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DIY van roof-raise RV conversion to van tiny house

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By Cheri Sicard
Meet “Woody,” a van conversion tiny house. What makes Woody so unique? His DIY van roof-raise, part of the design that his innovative free-thinking creator John came up with.

(As a side note, the YouTube channel this is on called him “Woodsy.” But since John calls him “Woody,” that’s what I’m going with.)

This build has been an ongoing work in progress for the last two years, including five interior and three exterior rebuilds.

Woody began life as a 1996 GMC Savana 1500 van with a 5.7-liter V-8 engine. It was a classic 1990s-style conversion van designed for families to go road-tripping, but not as an RV. It looks nothing like that now.

John invested $9,000 into the original build, and that included the cost of the van.

One of the conversion’s most unusual features has to be the DIY roof raise John did on it.  Surrounded by colorful eye-catching wood panels, this part of the conversion process raised the roof and added 16 inches, giving Woody a 6-foot, 4-inch interior height!

In their last round of renovations, John and his girlfriend, Carly, added a roof deck. The 11-foot deck runs the entire length of the van. Also up there are 400 watts of solar panels mounted onto slide-out panels. When it’s time to move, the solar panels slide in. But otherwise, when they are slid out they don’t take away from the rooftop deck living space.  Four flip-down ladder steps provide quick and easy rooftop access.

The interior is bright, warm, and homey with lots of wood. John recycled found pallet wood into something truly stylish and spectacular. It’s also durable, practical, and lightweight.

Other features they added to this tiny home van conversion:

  • Rooftop skylights that provide the interior space with lots of natural light.
  • A 30-gallon water tank that lasts the couple and their 3 dogs about a week.
  • Independently solar-powered exterior lights.
  • A simple cassette toilet.
  • A kitchen with sink and stovetop.
  • A 54-quart top-loading refrigerator that hides under the counter when not needed.
  • A table for dining or working.
  • A sofa lounge that converts to a full-size bed.
  • A large TV.
  • Storage cabinets.
  • A portable power station.

From the inside, the living space appears much larger than it actually is. Kudos to John and Carly on this innovative DIY van roof raise RV conversion.

##RVDT1984

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Bob p
1 month ago

That 1/2T van must be drastically overloaded with all the wood used.

Ron L
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

I agree, I wonder why he didn’t use aluminum instead?

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