Budget ideas

MarkJ

Full Member
wonder if anyone knows a few ball-park budget figures for diy conversions?

Assuming I have a nice, clean base vehicle and do all the woodwork, plumbing and electrics myself (but pay someone to do the gas....), just roughly what would be the range of costs for conversion? I’d want a small washroom, hob and fridge and beds and travel seats for just two of us.

I expect you can spend silly money, but what would be a reasonable quality low end cost and then a smart/few frills medium sort of cost?

Can anyone help? Thanks!
 

wildebus

Full Member
More than you expect!
Impossible to say really, but you WILL end up paying more than you expected/wanted :)

I would put the various bits and pieces into a spreadsheet and work it out from there, looking up prices. there is way too much variance possible in just your short list to have an answer.
 

MarkJ

Full Member
Yes, i understand, but I’m talking ball park really.

My guess was that a posh van you buy new for, say, £60k is probably £20k base vehicle, £20k conversion and £20k dealer/manufacturer profit. But that’s just a guess - I was hoping someone might say “I did mine for £15k” or something.
 

wildebus

Full Member
Yes, i understand, but I’m talking ball park really.

My guess was that a posh van you buy new for, say, £60k is probably £20k base vehicle, £20k conversion and £20k dealer/manufacturer profit. But that’s just a guess - I was hoping someone might say “I did mine for £15k” or something.
But it wouldn't really help.
You could do a conversion on a van for under £5K quite easily (excluding base vehicle) and have a decent camper. But you can spend a lot lot more as well.
 

GEOFF

Full Member
My own opinion is that you should be able to produce a nice vehicle for £6-£10K, but could easily double those figures if you wanted to. Good luck with whatever you decide. Geoff.
 

Edina

Administrator
We spent six thousand to convert ours. That included 12v comp fridge, solar, b2b, shower/loo and 2 ring hob. That was doing all the work ourselves. We could have done it cheaper and we could have spent a lot more: if you farm out work like gas, upholstery etc it will be a more.

Good luck with your build.
 

Squiffy

Full Member
Yes, i understand, but I’m talking ball park really.

My guess was that a posh van you buy new for, say, £60k is probably £20k base vehicle, £20k conversion and £20k dealer/manufacturer profit. But that’s just a guess - I was hoping someone might say “I did mine for £15k” or something.
You are spot on with your guestimation at 20 20 20. Our van cost us new £21, 000 we then spent a further £18,000 in building it, we already had the cmos sat dome from my previous van, but to buy an equivalent van from a recognised builder it would definitely be £65,000. The difference being that it is exactly how we want it, has been in my opinion built to a far better standard and is now five years old done 31500 miles and still looks as though it had just been finished., I've seen similar Van's at shows that are only 2-3 years old that have shown that they will not stand the test of time and look very tired but are still advertised at circa £38-45,000, Phil.
 

MarkJ

Full Member
Thanks for the replies, folks. I will take wildebus' advice and do a spreadie, but I hoped for a bit of encouragement first.

I've been looking at lots of videos on youtube and while I admire the handiwork, I'm not a fan of the wood cladding idea. Just my taste, nothing wrong with it, I'm sure, so I'll be spending some time looking for a different finish. Which will no doubt cost more!
 

SquirrellCook

Full Member
Just let it evolve. You will find once you have it in a usable condition, you'd wished you had done it differently.
There are some on here who can't leave their vehicles alone, so I guess they are never finished.
The other questions are :- Do you want to use it or build it, maybe even build for a profit?
The answer should change our approach.
If you want to make it liveable so you can use it, best get on with it as spring will be here faster than you expect.
 

MarkJ

Full Member
Just let it evolve. You will find once you have it in a usable condition, you'd wished you had done it differently.
There are some on here who can't leave their vehicles alone, so I guess they are never finished.
The other questions are :- Do you want to use it or build it, maybe even build for a profit?
The answer should change our approach.
If you want to make it liveable so you can use it, best get on with it as spring will be here faster than you expect.
It would be for our use, so I can get it how I want, but we haven’t got outlandish needs so it should be sellable if that’s what happens eventually.

Yes, I’m thinking to plan the “infrastructure” (wires, plumbing etc) carefully but be more flexible about other things.
 

wildebus

Full Member
The Youtube route of viewing vans and getting ideas for build and products, using them as a bit of a pick & mix for your own is handy.

If you haven't looked at them already, some of the ones I think are good are:
Humble Road - US channel. That is a conversion of a Sprinter and I would say is a "no costs spared" approach. This build is also unusual compared to most as he uses "80:20" aluminium to frame everything out. Excellent product, but pricey (it is available in the UK under a different name)
Ourkaravan - US Channel. Another Sprinter, using 80:20 again but not such a dedicated Motorhome. Well worth a view
The Restoration Couple - UK Channel. Sevel Van (probably a Ducato) and a fairly standard British style conversion but very well documented and I think the chap does a cost breakdown at the end of the series.
Rickvanman - UK Channel. Enjoyable series of videos with a conversion on a limited budget. He has over the years done 3 different vans so you can see 3 different approaches and builds.
Van Tourist - Russian Channel. Another Sprinter again, but a nice build. I like his build as he has happened to take a very similar approach and use the same product types as I have as it happens. He has a costing at the end as well I think and that is still relevent as the products he has used are available in the UK and in fact many of them he actually sourced from the UK (the UK has the biggest self-conversion market probably in the world - I bet even bigger than the US as most US self-conversions appear to be very limited and basic).
Lots of others of course out there - Greg Virgoe is one that is widely quoted as a good one to look at and I have met a couple of people who based a lot of their build on Gregs work.

One thing to watch out for on all these youtube builds .... there are usually a real-time progression and what is done in one episode may well be redone differently later on, either because the builder found a better way, or maybe because what was done just didn't work! (There are some key examples of that on most (all?) of the channels listed above!). So watch until conclusion before emulating ;) . Ivan's Build (Van Tourist) is good as once he finished his, he has another series of videos of him actually using his van on a big trip around Scandinavia so you get to see what worked and what didn't so much. Rickvanman's channel is similar (except more like trips around the Coltswolds rather than the Arctic Circle)

If you goto the VW T4/T5 forum (www.vwt4t5forum.co.uk), there are hundreds of build threads with all kind of different approachs. Many are very similar of course, but there are some real odd ones out there, and good if you are converting a smaller van.
Also visit the Quirkycampers website. This is a collection of self-build campers that are available for hire through quirky campers and you can see a lot of interiors there and get some ideas maybe - especially if you are a bong-inhaling hippy :D
 

MarkJ

Full Member
The Youtube route of viewing vans and getting ideas for build and products, using them as a bit of a pick & mix for your own is handy.

If you haven't looked at them already, some of the ones I think are good are:
Humble Road - US channel. That is a conversion of a Sprinter and I would say is a "no costs spared" approach. This build is also unusual compared to most as he uses "80:20" aluminium to frame everything out. Excellent product, but pricey (it is available in the UK under a different name)
Ourkaravan - US Channel. Another Sprinter, using 80:20 again but not such a dedicated Motorhome. Well worth a view
The Restoration Couple - UK Channel. Sevel Van (probably a Ducato) and a fairly standard British style conversion but very well documented and I think the chap does a cost breakdown at the end of the series.
Rickvanman - UK Channel. Enjoyable series of videos with a conversion on a limited budget. He has over the years done 3 different vans so you can see 3 different approaches and builds.
Van Tourist - Russian Channel. Another Sprinter again, but a nice build. I like his build as he has happened to take a very similar approach and use the same product types as I have as it happens. He has a costing at the end as well I think and that is still relevent as the products he has used are available in the UK and in fact many of them he actually sourced from the UK (the UK has the biggest self-conversion market probably in the world - I bet even bigger than the US as most US self-conversions appear to be very limited and basic).
Lots of others of course out there - Greg Virgoe is one that is widely quoted as a good one to look at and I have met a couple of people who based a lot of their build on Gregs work.

One thing to watch out for on all these youtube builds .... there are usually a real-time progression and what is done in one episode may well be redone differently later on, either because the builder found a better way, or maybe because what was done just didn't work! (There are some key examples of that on most (all?) of the channels listed above!). So watch until conclusion before emulating ;) . Ivan's Build (Van Tourist) is good as once he finished his, he has another series of videos of him actually using his van on a big trip around Scandinavia so you get to see what worked and what didn't so much. Rickvanman's channel is similar (except more like trips around the Coltswolds rather than the Arctic Circle)

If you goto the VW T4/T5 forum (www.vwt4t5forum.co.uk), there are hundreds of build threads with all kind of different approachs. Many are very similar of course, but there are some real odd ones out there, and good if you are converting a smaller van.
Also visit the Quirkycampers website. This is a collection of self-build campers that are available for hire through quirky campers and you can see a lot of interiors there and get some ideas maybe - especially if you are a bong-inhaling hippy :D
Thanks so much for all this info. I had no idea it was such a big business in the UK. Pick and Mix is right: I'm sure I could make (for example) a kitchen unit, but I'm hoping to see a nice one as a kit somewhere and save my energies for more personal touches.
 

trevskoda

Full Member
Can be done for 2 grand easy if you keep eye out for bits and bobs,forget getting lots from old caravans as most is cr-p to start with.
agao to boat jumbles and small sinks /cookers etc turn up for buttions,wash unit from ex doe vans,casset loo from caravan or ebay,battery float chargers 20ah from 20 bucks ebay again,solar panels & regulator ebay ,just keep eyes on look out.
All in £6000
 

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wildebus

Full Member
When you fix the electric wiring add a few lengths of para cord as 'pull throughs' for any future add ons or alterations.
A good idea. Also, a handy product to use when it comes to wiring is 7 or 13 pin trailer cable. You get lots of circuits - and likely a few spares - in one run of cable that is double insulated (one for the individual cable, and an outer sheath for the bundle) within one neat installation. Only suitable for lower power circuits of course such as LED lighting and USB Charging sockets, but those make up a large proportion of circuits nowadays.
Another option is run a heavy-duty (10mm or 16mm) from front to rear and have a localised fusebox for distribution. All depends on the layout of the van but it is virtually 100% likely that whatever circuits you fit you WILL want to add to them later on :cool:
 

Millie Master

Full Member
There are those who are known on here ike Mr. Brown who can do a conversion in next to no time and only spend £2k or £3k and then there are others like Squiffy who did a conversion that is far better than most professional conversions with a cost of approx. £20k.

As for me, my plan was to buy a used and abused van and then do the conversion to the best of my ability using mostly new parts and then if we liked the campervanning life our intention was to sell her and buy either a nearly new or new van and repeat the exercise..... But as I have written here many times before, we so love 'Millie', warts, dents and all that almost 5 years since the build and a multiple of thousands of miles later, we still have her.
The van Renault Master LWB H2 van and the total conversion came to slightly less than £11k which included spray foam lining

Phil
 

Greggbear67

Full Member
I run a 5.5tonne Iveco ex welfare bus. Self conversion, not to every ones taste but I love it. Lots of mahogany stained t&g cladding, small vintage cooker, full size sink/drainer, cassette toilet etc all sourced 2nd hand from various places. Build took approx 8 months with help from a friend as I have reduced mobility & can't reach the floor. Ended up with a 7.5m bus, fixed rear 4ft bed homemade solid mahogany table & vintage bus seats. Still evolving & got solar to sort out yet but so far I have a reliable useable motor home that suits my needs & feels cosy & homely, so far including purchase price it comes in at under 4k. Getting around 30mpg if driven steady & I wouldn't swap it for the world! 👍😃
 

Bouydog

Full Member
I think unless you are super organised and disciplined projecting cost is very difficult. I am doing a 7.5 tonne conversion hope to have it complete enough to use after a year of build time spending around six grand.
But you do have to be realistic about cost of things with the words motor home attached, for example my windows were over a thousand fitting them my self.
My solar set up is also a large number, but I have saved buying second hand, household oven hardly used £45 a++ ac fridge used for three months with original £475 receipt £26 eBay fluke!! brand new household shower tray £35 be prepared to hunt for bargains. I have a bag with every receipt in it but have not kept a running total I shall tot it all up at the end, the view I take is if we need it for the build we will get it. We intend to spend a year or two full time so trying to get it right for comfortable living and travelling is important.
Lastly if you like me are a newby to this take advice there are plenty of people on here and elsewhere who have done this with great results some multiple times, and most problems you encounter someone will have the answer. Don’t be afraid to have a go, the first time you cut a whole in the side or the roof is nerve racking it gets easier.
Final reckoning in the spring 🤞🏻.
 

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