DIY Campervan: Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of our DIY campervan guide. If you missed the first part of this guide in which I built an extending bed frame, you can check it out here.

The end goal is to get our campervan certified as self-contained. Self-containment allows us to camp for free in all kinds of cool locations all across New Zealand. In order to pass the certification, we need to have a sink with 24L tanks for fresh water and grey water. Thus, this week we built a cabinet with a sink in the back of our van.


When starting on the design of the cabinet, we factored in visibility (I like being able to see out the back window), the shape of our van, and the free materials we already had. So, we decided to make a cabinet that was the same height as the bed and slightly narrower than the van to account for the rounded tailgate.

Additionally, I wanted to make the cabinet without a back so that we could easily reach things from both sides. This also allows us the possibility of storing really long things (like surfboards) that might take up the entire length of the van.


We already had a massive piece of particleboard thanks to the makeshift bed that came with the van. Since we are on a really tight budget, we decided to just use the wood we already had.

A trip to the local hardware store made our jaws drop at the price of actual sinks and faucets. After picking our jaws up off the floor, we bought a plastic bin for $3 from the supermarket and drilled a hole in the middle for our sink. You can see our makeshift sink in the picture below.



As you can see from the pictures above, constructing the cabinet was a fairly simple affair. I cut out four rectangles from the sheet of particle board and screwed them together to form a basic shelf. Then I measured the width of our “sink” and cut a hole out of the top of the cabinet. Very basic.

You might notice the “cute” paint job that we did on the cabinet and bed frame. There were two main reasons for this:

  1. My wife really likes mint green! And since she’s the coolest wife ever for cruising around New Zealand in a van with a smelly guy like me, I figured we should paint anything and everything exactly how she wants.
  2. The guy at the local hardware store sold us wood that was “perfect for indoor use.” That’s true, as long as you’re ok with slow asphyxiation from the wood treatment chemicals while you sleep. The paint not only looks “cute”, but it also does an excellent job of sealing in the chemical smell.

Lessons Learned

  • Ask multiple people at the hardware store whether or not the wood you’re purchasing is intended for indoor use.
  • Get creative if the price of something seems ridiculous. Our sink was $3 and will suit our needs perfectly.
  • Try to use the materials you already have to save a little money.
  • Paint does a great job of sealing-in odors.
  • Happy wife, happy life.



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