Camper - Vardo




Introduction: Camper - Vardo

Built this custom camper after the Vardo style. All good materials (exterior is cedar, interior is knotty pine walls with bamboo floor and stained glass windows). Fully insulated throughout. Has electricity, water, kitchenette and fridge, entertainment center, desk, fold out couch to sleeper with storage under that. Interior size is 8 x 11. The hardest parts were the slanted and angled walls and the round roof.

Step 1: Build the Base

Basically build a frame that fits onto the trailer that will support the structure and insulate it. All green treated lumber at this time for sure.

Step 2: Frame the Walls and the Roof

Used 2x3 for the wall studs so a little lighter. Roof joists are cedar 2x6 - I wanted them to be decorative so that is why the cedar. It would have been easier to attach the roofing if these were wider lumber but wider cedar is expensive so went with the deck board lumber.

Step 3: Roof and Exterior Work

Luann plywood, then glued and screwed insulation, then tar paper, then the copper colored steel roofing (not pictured here). Tar paper on the exterior walls, then the siding and trim. Trimming the rounded areas in the over hangs were a challenge cutting them to fit tight. Would have been easier if I embedded the trusses into plywood but it looks nice all cedar.

Step 4: Interior Work

Pre-finished knotty pine, I think it looks nice but not the lightest material. Flooring is click track bamboo I had left over from our basement floor project. Hand made dutch door (a often used door style for vardos). Custom built stained glass windows. The normal windows were basic windows from home depot, ok but not style making.

Step 5: Interior Treatments Etc

My wife got involved and thankfully, so the interior started looking nice with hand made window treatments, quilt, nice gypsy pillows, beads. The stained glass was her concept also. I was ready to put stencils over plexi glass but there would be none of that cheesiness. Electrical outlets throughout running off one main GFI. The sink is hooked up to outside water via hose and a 5 gallon removable drainage container.

Step 6: Planters Added

Not very gypsy without planters. They go inside the vardo when going down the road for obvious reasons. I may hand carve some wooden flower/plants that could stay all the time eventually. Am concerned they might get ripped off though. Another thought would be removable plastic covers over the plants.

Step 7: Hit the Road!

I added the baffle to the front (it is removable) since the front over hang seemed to be catching air when over 40 miles an hour. It really helped the aero dynamics (an important thing when trying to go 70 mph) down the freeway that everyone expects you to go! The unit gets allot of attention on and off the road that is sometimes a little much but I have already met allot of nice people because of it that I would never have met before. One guy followed me for 5 miles through a town until he could get my attention and asked to see it because he was planning to build a vardo himself.

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    30 Discussions

    You have helped me see that my dreams can come true.I am trying to put
    mine together.I am putting tongue and groove pine on the outside but worried about the weight

    Very good design and job done, i am about to start on mine soon,i am of Prussian gypsy blood and have always wanted a Vardo lol, i bought a older crappy caravan where trailer was still good, about 8ft x 8ft and stripped it bare, removed all surface rust ,took off old wind down legs bought new ones online, and i am ready to paint it and start flooring, i have bought insulation online also in a roll was cheap for floor a foam with silver foil on both sides ,for walls a bubble plastic with silver foil on both sides n ceiling, great stuff,light and easy to put on and i have been too the second hand building supplies ,new lights and wiring and the recycled timber cedar flooring for the floor and ends for the sides i am using Alu-sheeting panel it's 100xs lighter than ply and timber to keep weight down as i am painting a mural on both sides, 2 long lead light windows for the side and one smaller sq one for the front over bed, need good ventilation as they do get hot,it's amazing what you pick up cheap at recycle building supply yards and online if you shop around,my friend has built several and he's going to help me, well yours looks great happy travels in you Vardo, Luck and Happiness ,from Sandi on Central Coast of NSW, Australia , :)

    Love the Vardo. Where did you get the trailer? It looks like it is 12 feet long. That is the length that I want to build. I purchased plans from a tiny house company but love the style of yours.

    1 reply

    I had the trailer built by a local trailer company in my town. Any trailer dealer can have them made to specs. This is a car trailer built a little shorther so I can jack up and remove the house if/when I will need to.

    Hi Layne, When at campgrounds with electricity hookups I just run an extension cord to the external plug that then supplies 110 volt throughout the inside. When not, I have a small champion generator.

    Started June 2015 and finished November 2016, working on it off and on part time weekends, evenings. Not sure total hours it took.

    nice trailer, how many days it took to build?

    How did you install the inside wall paneling? Building a 5x10 vardo now, wasn't going to insulate because I am going with clear polycarbonate roof, but now I am thinking the insulation and inner paneling would be nice to hide electrical work.

    1 reply

    Hi Layne, congrats on your project thus far. It will be fun. I nailed pre-finished tongue and groove pine boards (not paneling but solid pine) onto the studs. It did add some weight to the vardo but looks nice and will last. The walls were built with regular 2x3 wood studs so the pine interior was just nailed to those.


    2 years ago

    beautiful trailer, what was the final cost?


    2 years ago

    Looks great. Would love to see a little more of the build, maybe some tips and tricks

    1 reply

    Hi mhepp1, I took limited photos during the build, in fact the photos I posted are most of them. For tips and tricks a few thoughts anyway:

    Make sure the trailer can handle what you plan to build. It is the base of it all so hard to change after the fact. It also is imperative for safety that you are not over capacity in case of an accident, they could cite that and a world of trouble could follow.

    If building angled walls for the vardo style make sure everything is of equal dimensions and "square" when you frame it up. Things are more difficult when compound angles over distances come into play.

    The way I did the rook trusses was harder then it had to be. I ran them over the wall construction but it would be much easier to embed the trusses into a half rounded section of plywood. I spent allot of hours because of it being the hard way for the trusses.

    Consider weight and aero dynamics in everything you do. It matters when going down the road at 70mph.

    Interior space is premium so plan the use of it well.

    Involve your neighbors and they will buy into it. I had a blast with neighbors during the build, many of them weighing in on much of the process. Having beer handy helps too.

    thanks pastormick for the kind words.

    Gorgeous work my friend, having built 4 trailers I know how much work is involved, I wish extreme RVs had not been cancelled I have contacts for the show.
    If you think the curved roof was tough look at my last one.
    Atomic camper.

    3 replies

    Hi longwinters, that is one amazing camper! So aero dynamic too for the road. You are right, the curved roof is a cakewalk compared to your entire structure..... I am not familiar with extreme RV's. Was that a show or event?

    It aired on the travel channel, it's been on for 5-6 years.
    They could have used more rigs like yours because they went to the
    Million dollar mobile mansions and I think no body could relate to.
    Have you thought of trying solar power?

    Sounds like an interesting show. Maybe Instructables could have a "RV not so extreme section". Solar would be a great touch sometime, holding costs down for now though as I prove it's concept to the powers.

    Indeed, the average dimensions (because it is not the same on the bottom as it is on the top are 8' x 10'. I could have made it longer with the heavier duty trailer but that came late in the build process.