Van Life

Complete COST Breakdown of our VanBuild

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In case you are new to my blog/website/social media @KellyNicoleTravel, my name is Kelly.  Together with my boyfriend Dave, we live in our self-converted van full-time.  We are currently living in our second self-converted van.  The most asked question I have always received is “how much did it cost to convert your van into a home?!” During our first van build I did not keep track of our expenses, so I never had an accurate answer to that question for you.  Because of that, during our second/current van build I decided to accurately keep track of our expenses to the best of my ability for you.


*5 Things to know/note* beforehand:

1. I kept all our receipts until the build was done and tallied them together when we were finished.  Most of this was purchased at Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Amazon.. with some other sellers for things like windows, mattress, etc. The items were bought between February 2019 and May 2019 so the prices reflect that timeframe.  Prices may vary from vendor to vendor and date to date.

2. The price does NOT include any tools purchased or used as they are not “part of the van” when it is done (all kinds of electric saws, power drills, etc).  It also does not include any labor costs you would pay someone to build for you because we did the labor/build all ourselves.

3. The price does NOT include any items that are considered for “living” in our van such as storage bins, sheets, pillows, wall decor, etc.

4. Our grand total will increase slightly after this post.  We will be adding a fridge, inverter, and large slide out table which will result in an increased cost by $1-2k.  And who knows what we’ll add throughout the year (cameras, etc.) Van’s are always capable of being changed and adapted once built.  I will update this page as it changes.

5. I would also like to note that all van build costs vary GREATLY from van to van depending on year/make/model of van, location, types of materials used, amount of elements put into the van, etc.  The table below is not how much all builds cost.  They can be built for anywhere from $1000 to $100,000 I’m sure. Examples: New vans, especially 4x4s, can be sold for upwards of $70k EMPTY in the US.. while some used vans already fully converted can be bought for under $7k in the UK. So it varies greatly. For those people who have a budget (like we did),  it is possible to build it yourself to save yourself all the labor costs a build company would charge you. We bought a 2005 used cargo van in the US (seen below) that needed a lot of work.

before
after

Without further ado, here is the van build cost breakdown of our 2005 Dodge Sprinter 3500 LWB high roof dually, in 2019, in a table below.  It is made to be EASY TO READ.  Categorized by parts of build.  Body, Insulation, Electrical, Carpentry/Structure, Water Supply, Appliances, and Misc.  There is a total for each category as well as a grand total.  

van build cost 2019 – click there for a PDF version if the one below is hard for you to see.


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F6CF308C-354B-4FEA-B551-170A2A35F0B5
insulation stage
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carpentry stage
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installing windows
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almost done!

Some random photos from our van build process pictured above.


It definitely took a lot of work, blood, sweat, and tears.  But we did it all. Ourselves.  And there’s no greater joy knowing that.  We learned so much and hope to help whoever else wants to learn now! I understand some people will think this cost is expensive while others will think this cost is cheap.  You can alter your build to be cheaper by not having all the elements we did (without windows, no roof rack or solar panels, cheaper cabinet handles, etc.).  You could also alter your build to be more expensive by using metal framework instead of wood framework or by adding things like a wetroom/shower, big toothy tires, etc.  The possibilities are endless for you no matter who you are.  Rich or poor.  But regardless of budget, if we had paid someone to do the labor for us or bought this van already converted as it stands now, it easily would have cost double the price!!! So just remember it literally pays to do things yourself. Might not be easy, but it will be worth it!

“….if we had paid someone to do the labor for us or bought this van already converted as it stands now, it easily would have cost double the price. It literally pays to do things yourself.”


There you have it!  In case you just scrolled through the photos to see the total, it is right there in the light blue box at the bottom of the table.  As of now the total cost of our build is $7,906.19 without the cost of the van itself.. but projected to be about $9250 when fridge, inverter, and table are added.  


If you have any specific questions about anything at all (where we got something, an item explained, how to use something, what I recommend, etc.) please feel free to email me KellyNicoleTravel@gmail.com or send me a message on Instagram @KellyNicoleTravel .. be sure to follow us on Instagram as well to keep up with where we are at and what we are currently doing in our van Flo 🙂


kellynicole

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Find items we used during our build in my VanBuild Shop Here

Find detailed explanations of how we converted our van in a Complete Guide to Converting A Van Here

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