The Cost of DIY Van Conversion

Van conversions are turning into an expensive undertaking!  The vans you see being made right now are bigger, badder and full of all the same luxuries that your house has.  There are multiple reasons for this.  The first one being that there are many more people converting vans because of all the interest in the movement.  There are also many small conversion shops popping up that can take your ideas and turn them into a custom van of your dreams; and lastly, there are new fancy products being produced for the consumer that used to be only available to RV dealers.  

Megan Cable    with the first load of supplies for her build. Follow the whole build on    YouTube   .

Megan Cable with the first load of supplies for her build. Follow the whole build on YouTube.

DIY Van Conversion

The great thing about the DIY van builder is that it is a choose your own adventure sport!  The cost of your diy van conversion can be as little or as much as you want both financially and time wise.  I try to take a middle approach by saying “you don’t need to spend a fortune on your van, but you should buy quality products that you will be happy with for years to come.”  You need to remember that this is a multi year adventure whether you keep the van or end up selling it in the future.  

There have been so many people we know that need to rip apart their whole build or pieces of it, to change out products or workmanship that was subpar.  We are all so excited to get on the road and to our own adventure but it’s wise to make sure you have the financial means and time commitment to produce a high quality build. Of course there are going to be aspects of the build that you are not as good at, but you can always ask for help and you can also wait a couple more months to save the right amount of money to hire out where you need to or get hire end products.  

With products, the rule is usually “you get what you pay for.”  Solar, fridges, composting toilets, etc. will cost you more up front, but they are made to be long term products that last for years.  Do not be shocked if the costs of your build goes higher than you originally planned for.  There are unexpected costs, upgrades and unknown factors that you wouldn’t have known about until the decision had to be made.  

My advice is to err on the side of slightly pricier products that should be of higher quality.  Where you are saving money is in the labour price, since you are doing the labor yourself for nothing or hiring out portions which is cheaper than hiring out for a whole build.  The difference between higher grade products and inferior ones is probably around 10% to 20% which means that you are going to spend another $1000 on a $10,000 build.  It seems like a lot at the time, but you will be more comfortable and happier in your home.  

The way to not go overboard and turn your van into the Taj Mahal is to simplify your build.  You can still buy high quality and downsize the items.  The fridge could be smaller, the sink could be smaller, your storage solutions can be simple but effective.  Remember that you are probably living this lifestyle to get away from the fanciful and opulent.

Your van should be beautiful, functional, reflect your values and be made of high quality materials!  Don’t forget to reel it in sometimes and remember what it’s all about: THE JOURNEY!