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Discussion Starter #1
There's been a lot of discussion about DIY RV conversions based on PM vans, and it's made me wonder about potential cost savings. Any ideas or feedback on how much the average project ends up costing?

Since labor is mostly free (assuming you do everything yourself as a hobby), but materials may cost more when purchased retail, it would seem that savings favor simpler builds when comparable in scope. If we tried building a very fancy or more complex van it may end up costing nearly as much. As an example, I'm guessing an Onan generator may cost us as much as it does Winnebago. Same with lithium batteries that don't involve much labor.

I know we can easily build a basic camper a little more functional than a tent for a couple of $1,000s, but can also see spending a small fortune if trying to replicate a Winnebago Travato.

So, any guess what an "average" project ends up costing -- not counting van? Are we talking $5k, $10k, $20k or more? And what does that buy you by comparison.


I know these are highly subjective questions and that's OK. There's got to be a wide range of project scopes.
 

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I posted my plans and a product list to budget from at http://www.promasterforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=37177
Since then I have found some items for less but I think the figures are a good ballpark number + - perhaps $500
I have modified the crude plans a bit to only close the center section of the bed to make a sofa with two storage spaces on the sides during the day thus giving me two 50"+ spaces to store some long items underneath it. But no significant changes. I ordered a diesel 136" high top with full interior panels which I will remove to insulate and replace for the interior. The units will be modular and removable except for the heater section of the floor under the dinette. I am a cabinet builder w/tools.
This is a very complete build out w/o under chassis tanks and with porta-pottie. so it is not Travato level or cost but is very inexpensive in comparison to options. Note that going to a 3500 159 ext van would cost about the same as my build. I hope this helps.
 

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RDinNHandAZ -


How do you attach cabinetry to the the floor and/or walls? Using L-shape brackets and rivnuts?

Why not 159 ext van?
 

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I've spent less than $6000 on my conversion, including solar. No propane or extra heat, including micro & fridge, all materials, roof fan, extra windows, flooring, sink, extra bucket seats in the back, portapotty, inverter, two AGM batteries, 2000w inverter, foam mattress, headliner, insulation, wall panelling, steps, etc.

All labor was my own.
 

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RDinNHandAZ -
How do you attach cabinetry to the the floor and/or walls? Using L-shape brackets and rivnuts?
Why not 159 ext van?
You need to go to my post. I have made all the reasons clear I think. As for fastening: Rivnuts to the ribs of the camper, floor held down by the built in anchor points, and the cabinets attached to he floor with "D" rings and these:
 

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Discussion Starter #6
....cut.... I hope this helps.
It does, thanks. With the exception of air conditioning it has much of what I may want and then some. For my use solar doesn't help much. That could pay for AC. A shower in a larger van would be nice and may add a little cost to conversion.

In looking at factory Class Bs, the cost above that of bare van seems to be in range of $40k to $50k.

Using the 80:20 rule, any conversion that costs no more than $8k to $10k will be a bargain if it offers me 80% of the utility of a factory unit.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I've spent less than $6000 on my conversion, including solar. .....cut.....

All labor was my own.
Thanks. Another data point in the $6k range -- good to know.

Again, shows another conversion well below factory costs. Granted that awnings, generators, etc... would add cost rapidly.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well you can get a brand new Travato for $60k right now at La Mesa RV. Mine will cost close to that but will be so much better because it is designed the way I want it. I'm essentially building a tiny house with all amenities.


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Thanks for heads up. Will be in that area later this week and may stop by. I've heard some bad things about La Mesa but may take a look anyway. Their web site shows Travatos from $67k and up. I didn't see any at $60k. Still a good price.

Are you doing all labor? How much will you spend on materials/equipment? Which amenities are driving cost higher? Seems significantly higher than other DIY projects. Not saying it's not worth extra cost.
 

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I really think that is the important issue. We have camped for years in our pop-up pickup camper and know what we want. We have not really needed a real toilet, shower or air conditioner. We seldom camp at electric hookups and wouldn't think of running a generator. We want heat, a nice bed and galley, an outside shower occasionally, and a place to relax, read, compute, and do that far from campgrounds when needed. I find most manufactured units ugly inside. To me they look cheap like plastic laminated to wood chip board. They have way more stuff than we want. AND I want to do it so I am satisfied, have a quality product and understand all its parts.
 

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I think we'll get the basics done for $5k. The full build will likely edge over $10k by the time we're done. A build with wish list goodies quickly put it up to $20k estimate.
 

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Thanks for heads up. Will be in that area later this week and may stop by. I've heard some bad things about La Mesa but may take a look anyway. Their web site shows Travatos from $67k and up. I didn't see any at $60k. Still a good price.



Are you doing all labor? How much will you spend on materials/equipment? Which amenities are driving cost higher? Seems significantly higher than other DIY projects. Not saying it's not worth extra cost.

My brother in law just bought his second RV from La Mesa. Ask for Cameron. He's the best. You aren't going to pay advertised price. $60k is definitely feasible for a Travato that has been sitting on the lot.

I'm doing the work. It's significantly higher because of equipment options and materials. I'm going to be stealth and self sufficient off grid. Here are just a few of my options that you can't get on any production van conversion: 600w flexible solar, 12v A/C, DC fridge, 480Ah battery, Magnum 2000W Pure Sine inverter, 40gal fresh water, 32gal grey, induction stove, compost toilet, radiant heat.


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Discussion Starter #14
My brother in law just bought his second RV from La Mesa. Ask for Cameron. He's the best. You aren't going to pay advertised price. $60k is definitely feasible for a Travato that has been sitting on the lot.

I'm doing the work. It's significantly higher because of equipment options and materials. I'm going to be stealth and self sufficient off grid. Here are just a few of my options that you can't get on any production van conversion: 600w flexible solar, 12v A/C, DC fridge, 480Ah battery, Magnum 2000W Pure Sine inverter, 40gal fresh water, 32gal grey, induction stove, compost toilet, radiant heat.


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Are you referring to La Mesa RV in Port St. Lucie, FL?

Interesting and unusual build. I've seen 12-Volt roof air conditioners from Europe but none from US yet. Is that what you are getting? If so, do you mind sharing details? Capacity, brand, cost, current draw, etc...?
 

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Are you referring to La Mesa RV in Port St. Lucie, FL?



Interesting and unusual build. I've seen 12-Volt roof air conditioners from Europe but none from US yet. Is that what you are getting? If so, do you mind sharing details? Capacity, brand, cost, current draw, etc...?

No the one in San Diego.

Yes I have the Autoclima U-Go. I got it so I could keep inside since this is a stealth RV. I've shared details on this forum before. http://impianti.autoclima.com/en/single/2156
http://www.u-gofresco.com/en/

Paid $1670 plus shipping. Max draw is 44amps but running at max is around 32. Low is 16.


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No the one in San Diego.

Yes I have the Autoclima U-Go. I got it so I could keep inside since this is a stealth RV. I've shared details on this forum before. http://impianti.autoclima.com/en/single/2156
http://www.u-gofresco.com/en/

Paid $1670 plus shipping. Max draw is 44amps but running at max is around 32. Low is 16.


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I'm in Florida, a different La Mesa RV.

For what it's worth, I installed a 5,000 BTU/hr window AC inside my van. It's totally stealth -- the reason I used it. My HOA is a pain. Runs on 120 Volts so it needs inverter if run from batteries. I run it from shore power.

Your little AC looks different than the 12 Volt roof mounted I had seen before.
 

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I'm in Florida, a different La Mesa RV.



For what it's worth, I installed a 5,000 BTU/hr window AC inside my van. It's totally stealth -- the reason I used it. My HOA is a pain. Runs on 120 Volts so it needs inverter if run from batteries. I run it from shore power.



Your little AC looks different than the 12 Volt roof mounted I had seen before.

Yeah we hope to never need shore power. We only have two 120v appliances: induction stove and convection microwave. Even our water heater is 12v.

The U-Go is a new product. Most of these units are roof mounted or split.
http://impianti.autoclima.com/en/products/72/0/1/1


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