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How much did you budget for your van build?

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2017 159" High Roof
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209 Posts
My view of her situation:
  • Full time job in NY
  • Is a micro biologist, so might even be helping with the pandemic directly or indirectly
  • Is trying to build a van in a short time period on a limited budget while working full time
  • Deals with difficult local people every day, seeking out help / support from like minded crazy people like other van hobbyist

Sounds pretty stressful to me, as well as fairly impressive that she is willing to take on a big project and learning curve like this.

I get insulted and my advice ignored all of the time on this forum. If you don't have thick enough skin to accept that individual opinions really don't matter to any one else, maybe it is time re-consider how you view the world.

Give her a break....
I’ve been here a year and engaged with practically all of you without issue. Had plenty of rough and tumble disagreements but never felt the urge to start calling people stupid or shouting in all caps of what an expert I am.

Rude behavior is oftentimes explained by the most uncomplicated reasons. That’s all I’ve got to say on this matter.
 

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2014 136” HR
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Well, Darn. We may have scared her off. I've been really looking forward to seeing how a microbiologist designs a toilet and how a real card-carrying architect designs a van build. Maybe she will at least post her results.
 

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2021 1500 136"WB High top
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220 Posts
My spreadsheet reflects every cent I spent on my conversion (others may not)!
Mine does too! Although I have a stack of home depot receipts from recent purchases that threw me way over budget, mostly because of wood and tools. my Budget was $10,000 and I think I went up to about $13,000.
 

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2021 1500 136"WB High top
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THOUGHTS? How did you develop your van conversion budget
I watched a video where the guy gave a general breakdown of cost for all the elements, breaking it down into shell, plumbing and electric. From that I got a general idea of how to move forward. I Made a floor plan. I made a spreadsheet with those three categories and I started filling it in with all the stuff i would need, filling in costs for specific elements, adding stuff, cutting stuff, using the floorplan to guide me on dimensions of things like a fridge, water tank, sink, showerpan... My big thing was I wanted a tiny home vibe with floorspace and a general feeling of space. I had tons of time to do this. It was my covid project. I didn't even have the van yet.

I went over budget by something like $3,000. I still have to add recent receipts to the spreadsheet (I'm scared!). I seriously under-budgeted for wood and tools I would need. And I actually stopped caring about budget because I just wanted the finish product to be wonderful. Do it right, do it once.

I planned to do all the work myself, so there was no labor budget. I think I put a few hundred aside for possible help from Exploristlife.com where I was planning my electrical. But I ended up not needing that help, just $10 for the wiring blueprint.
 

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2021 1500 136"WB High top
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Are you going to be plugged in to shore power? Toaster ovens are great, but they aren't the best choice to run off grid. With the exception of some of the higher end infrared ones(Like Panasonic), they're basically just a dead short with very high wattage requirements.
I have a cuisinart convection toaster oven I use at home. it cooks a chicken breast in 10 minutes, delicious and juicy. It's 1500 watts. To me that's better than a microwave.
 

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2017 - 2500 159
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I watched a video where the guy gave a general breakdown of cost for all the elements, breaking it down into shell, plumbing and electric. From that I got a general idea of how to move forward. I Made a floor plan. I made a spreadsheet with those three categories and I started filling it in with all the stuff i would need, filling in costs for specific elements, adding stuff, cutting stuff, using the floorplan to guide me on dimensions of things like a fridge, water tank, sink, showerpan... My big thing was I wanted a tiny home vibe with floorspace and a general feeling of space. I had tons of time to do this. It was my covid project. I didn't even have the van yet.

I went over budget by something like $3,000. I still have to add recent receipts to the spreadsheet (I'm scared!). I seriously under-budgeted for wood and tools I would need. And I actually stopped caring about budget because I just wanted the finish product to be wonderful. Do it right, do it once.

I planned to do all the work myself, so there was no labor budget. I think I put a few hundred aside for possible help from Exploristlife.com where I was planning my electrical. But I ended up not needing that help, just $10 for the wiring blueprint.
Hahahahaha I did not consider that wood would be such a significant addition to my costs 😭
Plus I added cost as I went because HOLY S*** it takes so long I'd much rather spend a few thousand more and have what I want after a full year of spending every free minute on this.

Also work from van adds a LOT to the cost. A good portable internet setup is at least $1000
 

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I have a cuisinart convection toaster oven I use at home. it cooks a chicken breast in 10 minutes, delicious and juicy. It's 1500 watts. To me that's better than a microwave.
I agree and love my toaster oven as well (In my home and on shore power). The issue is that 1500+ watts is quite a draw on a battery system. Of course it is totally doable, but you'll basically be looking at double the cost or more for an electrical system just to power it. All of your other electrical devices are fairly low draw, even the induction burner can be kept well under 1000 watts for most uses.
 

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I agree and love my toaster oven as well (In my home and on shore power). The issue is that 1500+ watts is quite a draw on a battery system. Of course it is totally doable, but you'll basically be looking at double the cost or more for an electrical system just to power it. All of your other electrical devices are fairly low draw, even the induction burner can be kept well under 1000 watts for most uses.
I only eat once a day, so it won't get tons of use, but I will definitely have to pay attention and make changes where necessary. I'm trying to go with all electric so I don't have to deal with propane. If it was a full-time living thing I'd get 1 or 2 more batteries. Do it once do it right. 🤓
 

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Hahahahaha I did not consider that wood would be such a significant addition to my costs 😭
Plus I added cost as I went because HOLY S*** it takes so long I'd much rather spend a few thousand more and have what I want after a full year of spending every free minute on this.

Also work from van adds a LOT to the cost. A good portable internet setup is at least $1000
Yup. same here. And I haven't even addressed the internet issue. $1000, really? Uug. My plan is to finish my basic plan early July. I won't have air conditioning or heat, or internet, and some storage / finish work. I'll take it on a trip and see what I need to add.
 

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Yup. same here. And I haven't even addressed the internet issue. $1000, really? Uug. My plan is to finish my basic plan early July. I won't have air conditioning or heat, or internet, and some storage / finish work. I'll take it on a trip and see what I need to add.
We plan on working remote from the van as soon as it's done, so internet is necessity. For trips here and there who cares? I bought a fancy cell router that can support 2 SIM cards and connect to a 4x4 cell antenna and a 2x2 wifi antenna. Over 600 for the router and the antennas cost like 400+
But some people just get a 300 dollar hotspot and attach a Netgear panel antenna they put in whatever window faces the tower. I want to absolutely sure before we have no convenient address to ship stuff to.
Hotspot plans with enough data cost alot also.
 

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2018 136" HR
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I think it depends on where(city or rural) you are and how much speed you need for your work. I been working out my van since the covid. First few months I was using an extra phone with data plan as hotspot. It work OK, with few drops. Then i got the mofi4500 mobile router with external antenna(used from ebay $150), speed is about the same or better but more reliable. I only need to remote into my work computer and rarely have to video conference so it doesn't need high internet speed. I would start with phone hotspot first then go from there if you need more high end stuff
 

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I think it depends on where(city or rural) you are and how much speed you need for your work. I been working out my van since the covid. First few months I was using an extra phone with data plan as hotspot. It work OK, with few drops. Then i got the mofi4500 mobile router with external antenna(used from ebay $150), speed is about the same or better but more reliable. I only need to remote into my work computer and rarely have to video conference so it doesn't need high internet speed. I would start with phone hotspot first then go from there if you need more high end stuff
Yeah that works for me as I can do much offline, as long as I can check emails a couple times a day. Need to remote in sometimes for use of the office computer software or transfer files.
My wife has hours of zoom every day, so need at least a few megs up and down for that. Don't quite get that at home, and I suspect we'll want to be more remote
 

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I have a cuisinart convection toaster oven I use at home. it cooks a chicken breast in 10 minutes, delicious and juicy. It's 1500 watts. To me that's better than a microwave.
I'll bet you could a chicken breast in a 750 watt 3 quart Insta Pot in the same or less time. We cook salmon filets in 4 minutes in ours and they turn out perfect. And it only requires a 1000 watt inverter.
 

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Oh, yes! Instant Pot is my favorite way to cook chicken. Instant Pot may be the most van-friendly electric cooking there is. Spring for the ceramic inner pot and cleanup is a wet paper towel, even for chili.
 

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Oh, yes! Instant Pot is my favorite way to cook chicken. Instant Pot may be the most van-friendly electric cooking there is. Spring for the ceramic inner pot and cleanup is a wet paper towel, even for chili.
I agree, LOVE my 3 qt. Instant Pot! I bought a Kill-a-Watt just to check the power draw. It never went above 650w.
 
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