Earlier this year we conducted a survey and one of the questions was "How have you outfitted your van for hauling tools and materials?" The answers were multiple-choice and it was possible to choose more than one because tradesmen often install more than one accessory in their vans. Choices included:

I drive a van but have not outfitted it
Manufactured shelving
Home-made shelving
Roof racks
Side-carry racks

We asked the same question in a 2011 survey that lumped all of the trades together; the most recent survey was set up so the answers could be separated by trade. The charts in the slideshow on this page contain answers from all who responded in 2011, all who responded in 2014, and from those trades that received at least 25 responses in the most recent survey: remodelers, GCs doing new construction, handymen, finish carpenters, and electricians.

The responses from other trades count towards the total but are not individually called out. Nothing against those trades, but it would be unreasonable to draw conclusions based on the handful of responses received from plumbers, painters, and the like.

Here are some of the comments we received from tradesmen who answered the question about outfitting a van:

"I got some free lockers from an old school (gym-type, 1' X 1' X 2') and I laid them on the side and screwed them to the walls of my box van. The door hinges are at the top, the doors open by swinging up. I have 24 lockable units in all, 48 cubic feet. I have homemade shelves and a 30" X 48" workbench with a vise too." [Remodeler; drives Chevy cube van; 8 cylinder; 2 WD; gasoline engine; 10+ years old; with home-made shelving]

"By far my favorite vehicle is the Sprinter extended height van. Safe secure, easy to drive. A pickup is great for sand or gravel or trash, but a van keeps tools safe, dry and organized if you have bins and shelves and ladder racks." [Remodeler; drives Dodge Sprinter; 4 cylinder—gets 18-20 mpg in town fully loaded; 2 WD—all paved roads and no snow in Calif.; diesel engine; 6-10 years old; with manufactured shelving, roof racks, and an electric ladder rack. Also drives a standard pickup, service body pickup, and van]

"So many benefits to having a mobile hardware store that has iffy day work space and you can close the door and lock it up all in one at the end of the day." [Remodeler; drives Chevrolet cube van; 8 cylinder; 2 WD; gasoline engine; 3-6 years old; with home-made shelving]

"No self-respecting Remodeler would buy manufactured shelving that doesn't fit her/his needs. Custom made is the only way to fly." [Remodeler; drives Ford cube van; "best on the market and most popular"; 10 cylinder; 2 WD; gasoline engine; 10+ years old; "Has almost 210,000 miles on it & runs great!"; with home-made shelving]

"Hang cords and tools inside with 5 gallon pails and tool boxes for storage. Home-made roof racks will carry ladders and anything I can strap on." [Remodeler; drives 1997 Chevy Astro Van; 6 cylinder; AWD—"AWD is a must where I live and work"—gasoline engine; 10+ years old]

"Have a cube van with home-made shelves. Also have a pickup, hook lift truck, and dump trailer" [Remodeler; drives ford pickup; 8 cylinder; 4 WD; gasoline engine; 0-3 years old]

"Series of 4 nearly full length, 3/16 Al shelves with various totes grouping tools or materials for various jobs. Security of the box especially important here." [Remodeler; drives GMC P3500 step van (retired Fedex truck?); 8 cylinder; "350 Chevy w/Turbo automatic. Much nicer in city traffic"; 2 WD; gasoline engine; 10+ years old; with home-made shelving]

"Manufactured shelving, home-made shelving, roof racks, and I built-up the floor as well". [Handyman; drives Transit Connect; 4 cylinder; 2 WD; gasoline engine; 3-6 years old]