Reader DIY: Building a motorhome from scratch

Story and image by Patrick Johannes

A Motorhome to Call My Own

The idea of building one’s own motorhome is a daunting one. It has taken me almost a year to research, design and redesign the best possible method, given my lack of in-depth knowledge and the uncertainty about the skills required to complete such a construction successfully. The lack of any industry knowledge didn’t help matters either − I was told by a motorhome manufacturer that it would be too difficult a project to pursue on my own. I lost no opportunity of talking to any overlanders I could engage with. Their input was extremely valuable and always positive and encouraging.

The website of Stephen Stewart ( was extremely useful, and a must-read if you want to build your own motorhome. Using a 1-ton bakkie is a challenge, in that the difference in (free) weight between its GVM (2 950 kg) and its Tare (1 575 kg), is limited. I set the desired free weight at 400 kg and therefore had to use the balance of 975 kg to build the base, shell and interior. To meet this tight weightlimit, I had to calculate the weight of each component and update my spreadsheet continuously to ensure that I stayed within the required weight constraints. I had no clue what a realistic budget was, but tried to keep a tight rein on expenditure.

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