Conversion DIY vs Hiring a company, savings? - Ram Promaster Forum
User Tag List

Reply
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 41 Old 05-19-2019, 01:11 AM Thread Starter
ledesp
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2019
Posts: 11
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Thanks: 3
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
(Thread Starter)
Conversion DIY vs Hiring a company, savings?

What would you guys say percentage wise is the general margin of savings
when you do everything yourself VS hire a conversion company to do everything for you?

2018 Promaster 2500 159 Extended Tall Roof, Fixed platform bed in the rear, fully functioning kitchen, cupboards,
storage, shower, toilet(composting or cassette), all season insulation, solar and water, a few windows, vents/fans, heater/aircon.

I know it all depends on how elaborate and luxurious the conversion is and quality of materials and components
used however I am wondering "in general" how much you save if you DIY vs Hire.

One thing to note is that I do not have any tools so I would need to purchase all the
tools required for DIY and I would also need to rent a workspace ($500-$1k a month) to do the work in for 3-6 months as I am
currently in an apartment rental without a garage or workspace. So those expenses also need to be considered via the DIY route.

Van is already owned so that expense does not need to be considered.

Thanks in advance
ledesp is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 41 Old 05-19-2019, 06:43 AM
keeponvaning
Super Moderator
 
keeponvaning's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: New England
Posts: 6,233
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 988 Post(s)
Thanks: 382
Thanked 1,074 Times in 881 Posts
You seem to be able to post with this new thread.

To answer your question - no reason at all why you couldn’t do a first class quality conversion for $5 or $6 thousand. A shop would ask $20 to do the same most likely. You do not need to rent a space to work many here, most in fact, have done everything in their driveway or outside. You do not need expensive tools or even AC power. A $300 (max) set of battery operated drill, saw, etc from a big box store will handle anything you need. You could do it in a parking lot or the side of the road for that matter. Your biggest concern would be the weather and your skill level but many others have done what you want under very similar circumstances with much success.

2014, High Top/159 WB, 2500 gas Promaster camping conversion. https://www.promasterforum.com/forum...ad.php?t=43121
keeponvaning is online now  
post #3 of 41 Old 05-19-2019, 07:38 AM
RDinNHandAZ
Senior Member
 
RDinNHandAZ's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Summer in Lakes Region of NH and Winter in the Sonoran Desert of AZ
Posts: 6,583
Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1490 Post(s)
Thanks: 1,356
Thanked 1,668 Times in 1,294 Posts
Garage
KOV is correct.
The problem for us may be knowing what a similar conversion would cost. Mine cost me about $4,000 before I installed the swivel seats and lowered bases. It includes a $900 Espar diesel furnace you may not need.
My time invested was about 220 hours plus 100+ more researching plans, products, and methods. If I got even $25 an hour for the labor it adds way more than the materials to the total. Selling my modular parts to instal in a customer’s van would be about twice the cost of building them. If I were doing that as a business it would have to be more than that to cover insurance, my self employment taxes, losses, and infrastructure.
I think it is safe to say one can build a conversion for one-third or less of the cost of hiring it done.

2015 136" HT Diesel 1500 Sandstone Pearl Metallic
Campervan build see:https://www.promasterforum.com/forum...ad.php?t=37177
You can browse my build pictures at http://tinypic.com/RDsPictures
Conversion Costs see: https://www.promasterforum.com/forum...ad.php?t=85761
$500 solar and $700 complete Electrical: https://www.promasterforum.com/forum...ad.php?t=71562
If you must make a mistake, make a new one each time.
RDinNHandAZ is online now  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #4 of 41 Old 05-19-2019, 07:51 AM
ThomD
Senior Member
 
ThomD's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 567
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 139 Post(s)
Thanks: 104
Thanked 161 Times in 121 Posts
There is a saying that you don't build a boat because you want to sail; you build a boat because you want to build a boat.

Doing a conversion has to be something that appeals to you. It can be a lot of work. At times it will be frustrating.

I'm probably at 600 hours over 18 months and about 90% done. That doesn't count a couple of hundred hours of research and planning. Probably on the high side of average for time because I have a pretty elaborate electrical system.

2017 159" Gas High top with dual sliders.
Build Thread
ThomD is offline  
post #5 of 41 Old 05-19-2019, 08:11 AM
MsNomer
Senior Member
 
MsNomer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Oklahoma, USA
Posts: 3,329
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 786 Post(s)
Thanks: 29
Thanked 975 Times in 719 Posts
Ha. I have several thousand hours in mine (not an exaggeration) but that is because I love the building process and don’t want it to end. But I love sailing the boat, too: we’ve already turned 100,000 miles. That said, others here have proven that you can complete a quality product in hundreds, not thousands, of hours, even with no previous skills or tools.

The one consideration you have ignored transcends time and money. When you do it yourself, you really own it. No commercial upfitter can match that.

www.woodworkingtraveler.wordpress.com

Website detailing my build: msnomersvan.wordpress.com

2014 White 136" HT 1500 Gas

Last edited by MsNomer; 05-19-2019 at 08:13 AM.
MsNomer is online now  
post #6 of 41 Old 05-19-2019, 09:59 AM
Wowbagger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 185
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 46 Post(s)
Thanks: 8
Thanked 55 Times in 45 Posts
One other thing to consider: there are regulations on RVs - electrical and plumbing codes, crashworthiness issues, safety for CO and propane, etc. The professional conversion shops know the codes, are bonded, and have insurance in case things go wrong, just like a general contractor for a home.
Are you willing to do all the research to find all the relevant codes, and make sure you follow them? If something goes wrong, how will you prove you actually followed all the codes?
Now, I am *not* saying doing your own conversion is a bad idea! But part of the cost delta from doing the work yourself vs. having a professional do the work is for the professional to be able to stick a RVIA sticker on the vehicle at the end of the job, and certify it - and that makes insurance a great deal easier.
Also: don't forget that you *should* account for your time, for it does have a cost. Maybe you enjoy the work, but it is still hours of your life you could have spent doing something else. I think it's a bit of a flawed comparison to compare working for nothing vs. paying somebody, as you should look at the opportunity cost of not being able to e.g., go rent an RV while yours is being converted and have fun.
Wowbagger is offline  
post #7 of 41 Old 05-19-2019, 11:39 AM
ThomD
Senior Member
 
ThomD's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 567
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 139 Post(s)
Thanks: 104
Thanked 161 Times in 121 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wowbagger View Post
One other thing to consider: there are regulations on RVs -
Are there regulations about class B RVs? The RVIA guidance is for their members. I don't think there are any rules in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) that cover conversions. Don't mess with anything forward of the B pillar and you are probably fine.

I'm fairly sure most of these one-off #vanlife conversion "companies" are not putting any more care or planning into their setup than some of the members here and are not RVIA members. Sure some established companies are (Sportsmobile, Advanced RV, El Kapitan etc) but if they started on YouTube, I would not put money on it.

RVIA is members only, so I don't have to prove I did anything that complies with their rules. This thread inspired me to look a the RVIA members list. Lots of interesting companies I'd never heard of. Maybe next time I will throw money at the problem.

I could be wrong.

2017 159" Gas High top with dual sliders.
Build Thread

Last edited by ThomD; 05-19-2019 at 01:23 PM.
ThomD is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to ThomD For This Useful Post:
keeponvaning (05-19-2019)
post #8 of 41 Old 05-19-2019, 12:15 PM
ferall
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Posts: 34
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)
Thanks: 0
Thanked 5 Times in 5 Posts
On YouTube people share their experiences of living in their vans while building them out. Having an apartment gives you a pretty good leg up on them if you don't mind just working on stuff wherever, a home Depot parking, or the side of the road in an industrial park, a friend's house.
ferall is offline  
post #9 of 41 Old 05-19-2019, 12:49 PM
KNDLKSTMS
Senior Member
 
KNDLKSTMS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Nor-Cal
Posts: 470
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 65 Post(s)
Thanks: 723
Thanked 111 Times in 98 Posts
Garage
And might be easy enough for you to get a premade "kit". Just screw/bolt it in . Depends on your desired result . Build a palace or go camping .

2016 118" White Gasser
KNDLKSTMS is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to KNDLKSTMS For This Useful Post:
ledesp (05-19-2019)
post #10 of 41 Old 05-19-2019, 12:57 PM
SteveSS
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada
Posts: 812
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 194 Post(s)
Thanks: 223
Thanked 221 Times in 178 Posts
Garage
To answer your question, it depends on so many things ...

Like MsNomer and ThomD, I do it because I love the creative, hands-on building process. Woodworking is my hobby, so I don't count my time, I cherish it. Not my first rodeo, but first-timers can be successful, too. We all started somewhere, although it's best to keep the first one simple. Lots of experience here, use it.

Adding to Wowbagger, be sure to research your local state/provincial insurance options up front. They vary by jurisdiction; they also depend on the extent of your conversion and your investment in it. Simple, low-investment conversions may not merit or even qualify for "RV certification" and/or "RV insurance". But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Knowing your range of insurance options from the beginning will help guide your decisions. Again, lots of experience here.

SteveSS
2017 3500 159 EXT gas, silver metallic. Shiny's build thread
SteveSS is online now  
Reply

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome