Tackling a DIY camper van conversion can be a costly endeavor. Figuring out exactly how much to budget before your build will be critical for figuring out if you can accomplish your goal. So, just how much does a DIY camper van conversion cost?
The quick answer:
Expect to spend anywhere between $10,000 and $35,000 USD. Many people choose to convert their own van instead of purchasing a camper van to bring down the total cost significantly.
Camper vans have exploded in popularity in the last decade, and since the Covid 19 pandemic began camper van sales have skyrocketed even more. People are interested in a fun and cheap way to camp and explore the outdoors while still keeping some home comforts like those offered in a camper van.
Continue reading to learn more about the costs of a DIY camper van conversion, the best and cheapest vans to convert, and if converting your own van is worth the time and money that you will ultimately put into it.
Is It Cheaper to Build Your Own Camper Van?
Yes! Purchasing a van and converting it into a camper van yourself is an excellent way to save money. This is because purchasing a pre-built camper van can cost anywhere from $50,000 all the way to $200,000.
If your budget is not an issue, consider hiring a custom camper van builder like Outside Vans.
The cost of purchasing a camper van compared to building one yourself is enough to make anyone stop and consider a DIY option.
What is the Cost to Fully Convert a Van into a Camper?
To calculate the total cost of converting a van into a camper van, you will want to add the cost of the van and any materials used in the conversion kit. You can save a lot of money by building and installing your own conversion kit, but you should not discount the labor spent on the project.
A modern camper van conversion ranges in price from $10,000 to $35,000. This is usually plenty to construct a nice DIY camper van with basic comfort amenities. This is including amenities such as a bathroom, kitchenette, electrical hookups, sleeping quarters, and a table or desk for a workspace.
What Cheap Van Can I Convert Into a Camper?
Unfortunately, the covid pandemic has created a bottleneck in the automobile manufacturing process. This is due to a lack of engine chips that are available. Because most modern vehicles, including vans, run off of these chips, not having one means a non-working vehicle.
The suggestion then is to purchase a used van to convert into a camper van. This solves the availability issue as well as lowers the total cost of your camper van conversion project. Dodge manufactured the Ram Promaster from 2014 to 2017 and, if you can find one, this is easily the cheapest and best van to convert into a camper.
The Ram ProMaster is inspired by the Fiat Ducato, a front-wheel-drive vehicle. It’s the largest van on the market, allowing passengers up to 6 feet tall to lay side by side. Full-time van lifers value this significant space-saving benefit. Because the ProMaster is only available with front wheel drive, there is no drive shaft to the rear wheels, allowing it to have the lowest floor height.
DIYers adore the vehicle’s 90-degree cargo-area sidewalls, which ease the conversion scheme.
Is it Cheaper to buy a camper van or convert your own?
The explosion in camper van popularity over the past decade has created a demand so high for camper vans that the price tag is incredibly expensive. Serious campers will seemingly drop upwards of $150,000 on a pre-built camper van.
Compare the price of a new, fully built camper van, to a van that you convert yourself and you could save hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can pick up a used van for around $20,000 and spend another $20,000, on the high end, to convert it into a camper. Compare the total of around $40,000 to that of a new camper van and it is easy to see the cheapest route.
Are Conversion Vans Worth the Money?
For the most serious outdoors person, the answer to this is likely to be yes. This is the same whether you are buying a new, pre-built camper van, or converting your own. For those who like to adventure a lot, a camper van can be a great purchase.
Other outdoor aficionados, such as social media influencers, travel bloggers, and other vloggers might find that a pre-built conversion van is more for them. They can write off the money spent on their taxes as an entrepreneur and consider the cost of their van a part of doing business.
Can I Legally Convert a Van into a Camper?
Yes, however, when you register a conversion RV, the first thing you need do is examine your state’s licensing processes for the type of vehicle you are converting. Conversions from a normal vehicle to a camper van can become a problem if your state requires special licensing for RV operation.
For most states, however, converting a van into a camper does not require any additional training or licensing endorsements, but you may still need to register your vehicle as an RV. This is because many states have a luxury tax that you would have to pay on your RV.
Is It Hard to Convert a Van into a Camper?
With the right tools and materials, almost anyone can successfully convert a van into a camper van. DIY conversion kits are available for those who want to take on such a project themselves. These kits come with everything you need, except tools, to create your own camper van.
These kits also come with instructions so that anyone can convert a van. Converting a van into a camper will take a minimum of two people so be sure that if you are taking on a conversion project that you recruit a friend to help you.
You can also forego a conversion kit and build one yourself using plywood, MDF, or OSB board. These types of building materials are widely available and are cheaper than using high quality wood such as maple, oak, or pine.
(feature image: outsidevan.com)