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Is It Cheaper to Convert a Campervan?

Is It Cheaper to Convert a Campervan?

For many of us, being able to live in a campervan is the ultimate dream, but is it cheaper to convert a campervan? The freedom you get from being able to drive your home to the beach is hard to beat. Unfortunately, campervans can be very expensive if you buy them pre-made. 

It is cheaper to convert a campervan yourself. However, it takes a lot of planning, skill, and man-hours to create a luxurious living space inside a van. If you are willing to put in the time, you can save thousands of dollars by building your campervan from the ground up.

So, now that we know that it is cheaper to convert a van, it is time to go through the process and costs in detail. In this post, we will be looking at how much you will spend to convert a campervan and how that compares to buying one pre-built. Let’s get started! 

How Much Does It Cost to Convert a Campervan? 

How long is a piece of string? How much it costs to convert a van to a camper depends on how much luxury and comfort you want the van to have. The price tag for a conversion (excluding the price of the van) can come in anywhere from $1,000 to $30,000.

That is a pretty hefty range! The beauty of converting yourself is that you are the one who decides where the final price falls on this scale. Some people have even done it for less than $1,000. 

There are so many options when it comes to facilities you can install in your van, and each will have a different cost. If all you care about is having the necessities, then your van conversion will end up costing a fair bit less than if you want the full camper experience, complete with a shower and solar panels.

The basic conversion is best suited for someone who just wants to take their van out camping for a night or two every now and then. 

In summary, the cost of converting a van to a campervan is whatever you want it to be! You set the budget before you ever start working on the van. It won’t be easy to build a good camper for under $1,000, but it is doable. The average cost of converting a van is around $5,000-$7,000, but again, this can vary wildly depending on the level of luxury you plan on incorporating into your van. 

How Difficult Is It to Convert a Van Into a Campervan? 

Converting a van into a campervan can be very tricky indeed. Many people do not realize before starting the build just how much needs to be done. You would want to have some skills like carpentry and plumbing, or at least know someone with experience that you can bounce ideas off of.

However, with the right amount of planning, research, and patience, even the least experienced builder can end up creating a great living space. 

You will at least need a bed, seating area, dining area, flooring, refrigeration, plumbing, and lighting for a basic build. As we will see shortly, these are not the only essentials. Plus, for a more comfortable camper, you will need a heck of a lot more.

Like the price, the difficulty level goes up or down depending on how many facilities you want your van to have. Here are some of the more subtle essentials you will need to factor into your conversion plan:

  • Insulation: You want to be able to live in your van no matter what the weather. Considering how cold it can get at night or during the winter, properly insulating the van’s walls is a must.  
  • Storage: This is another thing you should make sure to include in your design. Some people get so caught up in assigning a space for things like the bed or seating areas that they forget that they need somewhere to put all their stuff. 
  • Ventilation: This is another thing that can be easy to forget! Insulating the van requires you to block off as many gaps as you can so that you can keep the heat in. However, you also have to be able to get fresh air. Roof fans, windows, and vents are all great ways to get the air moving in your van. 

Many people also decide to soundproof their van, although it is not essential. Again, it depends on your needs. If you do not plan to sleep anywhere noisy or drive long distances, it is probably fine to go without soundproofing. If you do decide you need it, there are plenty of great peel-and-stick products that can deaden the sound of the wall panels without the need for professional help or a lengthy installation.

Why Are New Campervans So Expensive? 

The simple answer is that they are in high demand. Campervans (or Class B motorhomes) are not as mass-produced as Class A or C, which means there are fewer of them. Nothing drives up the price like scarcity. Plus, the process of designing and building a campervan can be tricky, as we have seen, given the small amount of space you have to work with.

Also, Class B RVs are usually built on expensive chassis like a Mercedes Sprinter

On top of that, the chassis they use for the pre-built campers is always brand new. Starting with a used van is one of the best ways to cut down on the final cost of your build. Like campers, a second-hand van will cost significantly less since they depreciate as soon as you drive them off the lot.

As with any pre-loved vehicle purchase, it is an excellent idea to have a mechanic inspect the van for rust and other issues before you buy it. 

Do a Basic Campervan Conversion to Save the Most Money 

It stands to reason that the less fancy features you install in your van, the lower the final price tag. You could make the argument that simply installing a $30 sofa bed in your Ford Transit constitutes a campervan conversion, albeit not the most luxurious one. The beauty of converting yourself is that you choose how basic or complex the build will be, which determines how much money you will spend. 

If you just plan on taking the van out for a weekend now and then, there is no reason to install all the fancy extras. So long as there is a bed and some sort of insulation, a van is far more comfortable to sleep in than a tent.


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Why bother spending thousands of dollars installing showers and solar panels if you are only going to the beach for a couple of nights? If you plan on living in the van, that is when you need to consider the expensive extras.

Closing Thoughts

Most people who convert vans to campers do so because they dream of owning a campervan but do not have the budget for a pre-built one. That is because, no matter which way you cut it, campervan conversions are always the cheaper option. 

The demand for campervans and the person-hours it takes to build one make pre-built vans prohibitively expensive for most people. If you have more time than money, converting a campervan is one of the most fulfilling projects you can undertake. Plus, you end up with the motorhome of your dreams for a low price. 


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