Building your own van vs Hiring a van builder

Building your own van vs Hiring a van builder

Building out your own van versus hiring someone to do it is a decision that many van lifers face. Both options have pros and cons, and the best choice for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences.

Pros of building out your own van

It can be a rewarding experience

There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from building something yourself. It can also be a lot of fun to be creative and put your own spin on your van. There are plenty of DIY van companies like Roost Vans, that have van bed systems and van cabinetry, that make it easy to install products yourself.

You can save money

Building out a van yourself can be much cheaper than hiring someone else to do it. There are many resources available online that can help you with the conversion process. In addition to online blogs and videos, there are plenty of companies like Roost Vans, Goal Zero, and Lagun USA that make the process easy and affordable.

You have more control over the process

When you build out your own van, you can choose exactly what you want and how you want it to look. With the Roost Vans Smooth Rail Mounting System, you are able to place your van products in a precise location, as opposed to 1” intervals with an L-track. Roost Vans products give you much flexibility and are easy to install.

Cons of building out your own van

It can be time-consuming

Building a van can take a lot of time and effort, especially if you’re not experienced with construction. It can be frustrating. There will be times when you make mistakes or things don’t go according to plan. It’s important to be patient and persistent when building your own van.

You may not have the necessary tools and materials

Building a van requires a lot of tools and materials. Thankfully, companies like Roost Vans have products that are easy to install, such as our cabinetry or bed systems.

Pros of hiring someone to build out your van

It can save you time

If you hire someone else to build your van, you won’t have to spend all the time and effort doing it yourself. Most van builders, like Roost Vans, have showrooms that help you choose your desired van products and the overall look and feel of your van.

It can be less frustrating

If you hire someone else to build your van, you won’t have to deal with the frustration of making mistakes or things not going according to plan.

Cons of hiring someone to build out your van

It can be expensive

Hiring a professional to build your van can be expensive, especially if you want them to do a high-quality job. Not only will you have to pay for the products and materials in your van, but you also have to pay for the labor.

They may have a waitlist

Social media platforms have made it easier than ever for people to share their van life experiences with the world. This has helped to raise awareness of the lifestyle and make it seem more attainable. With the rise in popularity, professional van builders might not be able to build your van when you desire. Van builders usually take on a few vans at a time, making the wait time a bit longer.


Vans are a relatively affordable way to travel, especially when compared to traditional RVs. This makes them a more accessible option for people who are looking to downsize their lifestyle. Ultimately, the decision of whether to build out your own van or hire someone to do it is a personal one. There is no right or wrong answer, and the best choice for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. 

Roost Vans has moved into a new shop!

Roost Vans has moved into a new shop!

Wow, 2022 was busy… We’ve moved into a new shop and are excited to share a walkthrough of the space and why we moved. But first a little history of how we got from there to here.

Roost Vans started in 2018, when our CEO (Dennis) took a sabbatical from running CreatID, Inc. a product development and industrial design firm, to build out Obsidian, a 170 wheel base Sprinter van for his family. During that time, he drove past a horrific RV accident that involved a number of fatalities covered with sheets. That is when he knew safety had to be his top priority, particularly with children on board. So, he started over and reworked Obsidian from the ground up recognizing the great importance of a secure and flexible mounting system. This became the first iteration of the Roost Smooth Rail Mounting System.

Once the mounting system was engineered, he was then able to leverage that to grow the Roost Vans product line eco-system. The product line started with the upper cabinets and a single bed system. Recognizing the need for a wider audience, it has grown to include many variations of DIY flat-packed and shippable cabinetry and bed systems. All of this started out of his driveway.



After this, Roost Vans took off – or should we say rev’d up. Whatever the case, Roost Vans quickly outgrew the driveway and it was time to find somewhere more suitable. Thus when some space became available at a neighbor’s 3 bay shop, he sublet a bay. Just one… 30 days later he took over all three. He then brought on his business partner, Mike Atkinson, who now serves as the CFO. Next, Roost hired 2 installers who are still helping build and integrate the Roost Vans product line.

Some of Roost’s history in review:

  • 2018: 4 vans 
  • 2019: 9 vans
  • 2020: 11 vans
  • 2021: 15 vans
  • 2022: 24 vans

So, to date we have built over 60 vans for happy customers and way more than that taking into account DIY online sales. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

Later in 2018, we started shipping more and more DIY products, which led to the need for a commercial warehouse. Soon after, we leased a warehouse in Clackamas, Oregon where everything is shipped directly to our customers.

Within a year, Roost Vans had an install shop for manufacturing vans and a warehouse for all our online DIY products.

Since we established the warehouse, our install shop has essentially been our own customer and R&D lab. This is not by accident. Since we order products from our warehouse, we see what our customers see when we launch new products. Experience what they experience. That way we can quickly iterate designs and verify final products being shipped to our customers reflect the needs and desires of our installers.

Even though they were in the same town, we even shipped our products from the warehouse to the shop! That way, we truly got to feel what it was like unboxing our products and got a chance to test our online ordering system. This verified our packaging design and that everything would come in one piece. But, as you would expect, that got expensive real quick…



Our first 3-bay shop was beautiful, but growth and space were maxed out. In 2022 the universe had a better place for us and the timing couldn’t have worked out better. When our lease in the 3-bay shop came to an end, the space adjacent to our warehouse became available. Truly divine timing. This move has helped us start with a fresh canvas. We redesigned and expanded our shop floor space, dialed in electric, dust control, lighting, and layout, and moved in. All this while not sacrificing quality or increasing overhead. And, still nearly doubled our production.

In addition to the obvious benefits, a happy surprise to being adjacent to our warehouse emerged – faster feedback on installed products. And of course, further streamlining of our operations.

The old space will forever have a place in our hearts: the large trees the shop sat underneath; the deer frolicking out in the front yard; the mountain bike trails right outside the door. However, having running water and flushing toilets is really nice. Seriously. We used a porta potty and our Roost Vans kitchen products for water to make do. You gotta start somewhere.

We also gained an opportunity to provide a showroom for our potential clients. Now our customers can sit down with our sales team and decide in a well-educated way on the products, appliances, features, color, and personality of their cabinetry and van products. Then we take it from there and build a platform for making experiences.

The Roost Vans business model is to develop beautiful, quality, standardized products that are flexible and installed securely onto our mounting system with ourselves as our own customer. The vision is to get families outside, making memories together in a safe and effective outfitted vehicle. A lot of effort goes into ensuring that our DIY products are thoroughly tested for both ease of installation and safety. and, many of our products have 2 points of failure redundancy built in. Ie., in the case of a loose bolt, a second point of safety is engineered in.

Roost has grown enough now that we are able to set our sights on larger operations in the future. 2023’s focus? Expanding our product ecosystem and increasing online sales and support. That way we can provide these products to more van installers so they have the tools and resources to safely install quality products into their customer’s vehicles.


The new Roost Vans shop is right off highway 212 and 205 in Clackamas, Oregon. Shoot us an email at to set up an appointment to come see our new showroom. We are excited to have you visit!

Be sure and check out our new video walking you through our new shop!