Vanbuild Weekend #14 and #15 : Kitchen and plumbing

Guys! Our kitchen is D-O-N-E. We built it from scratch and changed our minds 10,000 times before really knowing what we would do. But here it is, in all its glory, pipes and knobs included. What I would recommend, when you start building your kitchen, is to design what every drawer/cupboard/shelf is going to be used for.

I. Organizing storage

We knew we wanted 3 main compartments : 1 for our water system (water jugs, sink, faucet, grey water tank and piping), 1 related to cooking with a shelf for the gas stove, space for a couple gas bottles as well as pots/pans and spatulas, and 1 for our dog’s stuff (her food container which is huge, her toys, treats, dental sticks, flea and ticks treatment and paperwork). That last compartment also will have a shelf for our cutlery and plates.

Now knowing exactly where everything will go, gives you the advantage of being able to fully customize your kitchen and make sure you minimize movement (a.k.a noise and risk of breaking things). At that step, you’ll know that storage hardware is expensive. So to keep our costs down, we’ve decided we would not create drawers (with extra hardware and wood) but just shelves.

II. Create a low budget butcher block <$100

still to this day, our goal with this build is to try to save money as much as possible. To be very transparent here (and I’ll give you a run down at the end of the build), we already spent $4,500 on the overall construction and don’t want to go over $5,000. For that reason, we did not care to spend $250 on a real butcher block. Nor did we want to spend $200 on a fancy faucet + $200 on a regular sink. So here is our little secret.

We bought a glued panel board from Lowe’s ($35 and 2/4 inch think = 2 cm), a nice golden stain ($5) and an epoxy kit ($25). We ordered a small faucet from Amazon ($35) and we found an old metal bowl in one of our cupboards and used it as our sink. So for a total of…drumroll…$100 we did our entire butcher block. Compare it to a minimum of $500-$600 for regular stuff and it wouldn’t even look that great.

We stained the glued panel board and followed the instruction on our epoxy kit. It tooks us 72 hours for the epoxy to fully dry + 8 hours for the initial coat of stain. so patience is key. In the meantime, we cut a whole down our old metal bowl and stuck it to the butcher block with some translucid glue/ waterproof sealant we already had. Doesn’t it look great ?

III. Plumbing : should you go for electrical or manual ?

If you are also building a camper van, you might know the dilemma that occurs while looking for plumbing solutions. Are you going all in? Spending the extra cash for a 12v water pump. Those water pumps that have the reputation of being so loud and of using so much water that you actually have to pair it with a silencing kit + an enormous 35-gallon water tank. This set-up is fantastic except it’s not budget-friendly at all and not so discreet either and it implies that you will have to invest in other things such as extra hoses, bits and bobs to make a real water system function.

Or you can go the other route – the simple one. The camper van route, roaming around in nature, smelling like dirt one. A simple foot pump, one 7-gallon fresh water tank, one 5-gallon grey water tank, small hoses and a few adapters. That’s obviously what we did. First because we really are going to travel only in summer, we did not want the noise of a water pump and we wanted to keep it clean and simple.

So our system is composed of the following equipment :

Our plumbing is simple, however it came to a total budget of $207,60. So if you do decide to go for a 12v water pump + bigger water tanks and overall system, be prepared to pay at least double of that. As a matter of fact, a good water pump will cost you $100 minimum, one big tank would be around $80-$100 + grey water tank and extra pieces such as a filter for the pump, a drain to keep pressure, longer hoses…

Hope this helps anyone in their build or thinking about it. I wish I had found a comparison article like that before I started 🙂

Next couple weeks will be making our table + installing our laminate flooring. Talk to you soon!


Bobby and Coco

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