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2014 136” HR
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As I approach the finish line on my build--I say that with tongue in cheek, I begin to think about the financial cost of this Paradise. Time cost is irrelevant because time spent has been pleasure, not work.

My eyes roll when I see the precise spreadsheets to the penny. No way. I tried that at first, but soon realized that it was fantasy.

How do I list the stuff I thought I was going to use but decided not to use after it was too late to return, and I probably won't sell because I might find a use for it some day? (Examples: sink faucet and water pump) How do I list the same kinds of things bought but not used for some previous project, saved for some day, and that some day was this van--and the purchase was so long ago I have no idea what I paid?

How do I list the various pieces/sheets of wood/ply that were leftovers from previous projects--and the leftovers from this project that will be used on another? Then there's the fasteners and other hardware that are part of my normal shop inventory. I guess the Formica and the battery separator that I got from Habitat for $5 and $2 respectively would go down for the price I paid, not what I would have paid otherwise.

The bottom line is that the financial cost is as irrelevant as the time cost. We live on Social Security and savings. We have a fixed budget calculated to minimize taxes, so there's not a lot of wiggle room. During the course of this build, I have taken one extra $5,000 draw from savings. I'm guessing most of that went into the build, but we were doing some overseas traveling then, too, and it's not unusual to take an extra draw when overseas traveling. So I think what actually happened is that while I was focused on the build, we spent less on other stuff and most of the van expense was absorbed by the regular budget.

I'm glad that I didn't skimp as I went along. Thinsulate, Engel, Motion Windows, etc., will be enjoyed hopefully for the rest of my life. The cost is already irrelevant.
 

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the one cost I did not anticipate was insurance. I added $8000 to my PM. When I called Progressive to add this value to my covered amount, Progressive wanted $1000/year additional. I told them to forget I ever asked and will go uninsured on my additions. I did not qualify for reclassification to "RV" cause I added no plumbing.


anyway, satisfaction s hard quantify and assign a value.....
happiness is bliss!
 

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This a thoughtful and reflective admission of what most of us who work with the materials appropriate to the conversion process know. The actual price is near some figure but no one would replicate the build for the figure we come up with. I get asked how much did the conversion cost? I hedge too saying "I spent $900 for an Espar furnace you cannot see.” In the end it comes down to “About $5,000.” Could we replicate it for that or could someone building do it for that? I really don’t know.

Mine is insured with Progressive as an RV for an agreed value of $44,000 for $375/year. I am happy with that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Just this summer after almost two years on the road, we learned that our additions were not covered. Our agent looked high and low and couldn't find full coverage except at about $1,800/year. I found Progressive at $500/year for this vehicle by itself with estimated replacement cost of $40,000. We have no plumbing.

RD, does this mean that if I plumb my sink, I can save hundreds of dollars per year?
 

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Here is what I found. You must have all the stuff a class B motorhome has. Plug in power, bathroom, plumbed water, cooking facilities, bed, etc. You can assign a value and it hold for 10 years. However there is one requirement they have I was unaware of when I bought their policy over the internet. Your van must have a GVWR of over 9,000 lbs and my 1500 has it at 8550, I believe. Perhaps 2500 and 3500 vans qualify. When I realized my error I called them and clarified my situation. They told me I did not fit all the qualifications for the RV rate and would not have been eligible but since I had insured it in good faith they would continue to cover me and renew my policy in the future. When my renewal popped up it went DOWN from $400 to $375. I have $500 deductible on collision declining in 5 years to $0. It is rated for NH which as very low rates.
I’d go to their site and go through the rating for a Class B and see. You can do the plumbing if everything else qualifies and call them about the GVWR, since you are already insured with them they might agree.
 

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Wow, RD you got lucky. I also had the go around with insurance. Progressive told me that they would only insure it as an RV if it had plumbing and was done by a professional upfitter... you must have gotten someone who either didn't know the rules or was bending them for you.

There's also some state to state differences I think... Geico and Progressive couldn't even give me a quote because they don't insure commercial vehicles for personal use in Colorado. Finally, I found a local State Farm agent and I'm now insured for $1,050/year not including the additions. Better than nothing.

On the cost convo... it's so hard to keep track of all those small purchases. I keep a running total in excel with every purchase I make. I'm at $7,500 which includes $300 for a local HD trucking shop to install the furnace and $1k for my unemployed friend to build a kitchen and cabinets. I'll end up closer to $9k after snow tires and all the misc furnishings etc. Not a bad price for freedom.

I wasn't able to reduce my regular spending like MsNomer. In fact, it probably increased buying beer and food for all my friends who helped. haha

For those newbies out there, I would say $7,500 is a more realistic cost for semi-luxury, i.e. furnace (1,500 w/ pro install), fan (375), fridge (600), mattress (350), electrical system($1k), thinsulate (450). The rest is all those small/cheap items but boy do they add up. Be prepared.

It'd take me many hotel stays to rack up a $9k bill but that's not the point. I want to drive wherever my heart desires, park and be at home. Sure I could have done it for half the cost... no furnace, no electricity, cheaper materials... It's all about what level of comfort makes using the van enjoyable for you.
 

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I have mine with progressive @ $375 year also. The trick is to use an RV insurance specialist and you will have no problems.

I can give anyone the name of who I used if interested;)
 

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Insurance is the one big expense with this van that I wasn't expecting. I use mine to carry tools during the week as I'm a carpenter and then as a campervan here and there. I had to insure it with a commercial policy for $2500/yr, up from $1000/yr for my gmc 2500hd diesel that I traded on the van. I've got a clean driving record also.

My conversion was around $5k said and done including solar, fridge, 11.5k btu a/c, etc. I did all of the work myself.
 

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Total honesty isn't always the best (insurance) policy! Who is to say if you have tools in your camper it's a commercial vehicles? If you outfitted it with everything required to call it an RV it is as much an RV as anything else it may be. I use mine as a daily driver and carry all kinds of things (including tools & building materials). I simply keep the bed and ports potty out unless I'm camping.
 

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You have to insure it as on thing or another. Honesty is a good policy but lets be real, I used my pickup as my daily driver for years and used it for my business truck summers when I was building and for pleasure use and to carry my camper. I always insured it as a pleasure vehicle and would never have expected the insurance company to cover my tool losses or the dozens of tires lost to sheetrock screws on the job-site. What it is mostly might be a guide, mine was my pleasure vehicle. What policy costs the most might be the insurance companies’ guide. BTW I was never asked if I converted it. I wouldn’t have known that mattered. Progressive asked for the RV brand and I put Ram. Who knew?
The 10 year agreed value was very important to me so in 6 or 8 years I can still get a $44,000 replacement not the value of a 7 year old used van! If you don’t have that fixed you may be faced with a totaled van and a payment of $9,000 or such.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
IIRC, that "commercial" designation gave my agent fits, regardless of how we were using it. "If it's a cargo van, it's a commercial van" was the mantra.
 

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It's not a cargo van when you put Windows and RV equipment in it.

Unfortunately every state has different regulations on how they register vehicles. RD and I are fortunate in as NH couldn't care less what the van is used for and we both have standard passenger plates, other states such as NY & CT call any pickup a commercial vehicle vans are sometimes a mix of pleasure and business (CT). if you are unfortunate enough to live in a jurisdiction that considers all vans commercial vehicles no mater what their use, unless made by a certified RV builder, you may very well be SOL!

When I lived in MA, many years ago, all pickup trucks had to be registered and insured as commercial vehicles. Today, thanks to the popularity of pickups, the owner has the choice of which way to register it. Vans used to have a rear seat and windows to be registered and insured as passenger vehicles but now AFAIK that requirement has also gone the way of the pickup truck regulations.
 

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I spent a few hours at last year's RV show in Hershey PA investigating insurance possibilities.

Every booth I walked up to said, in essence,"We cover RV's but only if built bay a commercial RV manufacturer." Progressive and Geico were on my visits, and being at the largest RV show in the country, I figured I would be talking to RV insurance reps. When I explained that my "RV" had sleeping, cooking, water and toilet facilities, the answer was the same. No DIY RV's are covered...period, end of story! One guy told me to beware that someone may write a policy and then the company will say it's the wrong coverage when you file a claim... that would not be good.

Bottom line: No one at an RV show would insure my RV. It sure feels like an RV. We've used it like one for trips to FL and PA, camping in SC, NC, PA, FL. We sleep like we're in an RV, and eat in it like we're in an RV, watch TV and use the facilities like we're in an RV, stay in campgrounds that seem to think we're an RV, but alas, it's just not an RV insurance-wise!

In CT, I have Combination plates.. that means sometimes passenger, sometimes commercial - can be used for both. We have no Camper plates or RV plates, and I can't put passenger plates on a van...arrrggghh!

Combination plates means I can't go on any NY highway that includes "Parkway" in its name. NY lets passenger-plated pickups on parkways, but not vans..... arrrrgggghhh!

So, for insurance, I have the company that insures my cars, and it's just another vehicle on the policy... book value - no coverage for add-ons.....arrrggghhh! It's about $1000 a year.

Total cost for my build? Probably about $5000 to $6000. Someday, I may just take all of the sales slips I have stuffed in a jar in the garage and add them all up.... probably won't! OTOH, I really enjoyed every step of the build, and maybe, someday, I'll finish it!

Ed
 

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I think the key here is to through an RV insurance agent. They want the business and will write it for you. Never ask the company directly (although RD did and got away with it). RV agents know how to do it and will. Progressive seems to be the best for RV insurance but their RV policy's are written by a different arm, Progressive Northern or something like that. DON't take no for an answer!
 
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