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2017 Promaster 3500 Ext.
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Very interesting to read everyone's thoughts on this matter! Can we reverse the roles and see how much you'd be willing to pay for a used van conversion if you guys were a potential buyer? How would you price a complete stranger's craftsmanship and time? How much less would you offer on your own van if your build was assembled by some random joe with no professional build experience vs yourself?
I wanted a weekend van that I could also lend out to family and rent out on occasion.

I first looked at an AZ company who spec's used PMs, and they were sold out for months. They eventually stopped specing vans altogether due to shortage of vans (Amazon apparently became a big buyer of used vans). Now they offer upfitting for $25k - ??? to your van.

I looked for vans nationwide in the $20 - $30k range to up fit myself. Found a 2013 Sprinter with 15k miles that had Maxairfan and 200ah Battleborn Lithium, Insulation and panels for $35k in LA. While I talked it over with my wife: It sold. Same story over and over as good ones were gone within 1-2 days.

Then I looked for new bare PMs: Findable but 95% White. Add in TT+L I would have been in the $45k range. Wasn't willing to go $20k+ more for a Sprinter.

I was also looking at the secondary upfitted market and found one that had 90% of what I needed. While it was priced more than I could have cobbled together myself, the workmanship was better (cherry handmade inset cabinets and epoxy river counters). I also thought it was well priced v. others on the market (private party who had construction and van experience - no Tax). While my family talked it over: It sold.

Got a call a few days later saying the buyer couldn't perform (financing these aren't easy) and I snapped it up. The things that bug me will get fixed and the upside of not being married to alll of the decisions mean I don't mind lending it out to friends/family and renting on occasion.

Now it's had transmission problems (received a new Transmission, Solenoid and waiting on a PCM), but that would be the risk of buying any used van. It's covered under warranty, but being the original owner would have been better (Ram Care covers hotels, rentals, fights, etc...).
 

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2018 3500 EXT Camper Conversion in CT (TX for now due to Covid)
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725 Posts
Harry makes a great point, for some buyers things have negative value. A crosswise bed for him, for me any bed that is not permanent (I don't want to have to do anything but climb in bed), there are just so many things that some people love and some people hate. It is a serious matching problem. I also had to have seating for at least 4 and sleeping for 3-4. I didn't want windows, other people love them. I just get out of the van to enjoy the views. Its very personal. If you can find the right match, the $$$$. If you find someone where it is not ideal and they are the only buyer, you won't get as much.

Market the van as wide as possible to get the chance to find that perfect buyer. I suspect a lot of people here built theirs because nothing else was a match or they wanted to save some money. This isn't necessarily where I'd look for the perfect buyer.
 

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2018 3500 EXT
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Discussion Starter #44
Very interesting to read everyone's thoughts on this matter! Can we reverse the roles and see how much you'd be willing to pay for a used van conversion if you guys were a potential buyer? How would you price a complete stranger's craftsmanship and time? How much less would you offer on your own van if your build was assembled by some random joe with no professional build experience vs yourself?
@Van vs Wild that is an excellent “flip”. I think for me it is more to do about the build & if it fits us. Like @HarryN gave examples of designs or possibly quality of work that might detract from buying another custom.

I do not think I would buy someone’s custom build. However if I did, it would be a comparison of a separately valued used vehicle & used build vs what else is on the market.

I Purchased my 2018 new in the fall of 2018 off a lot. For the same van new today I believe I could not find one (so need to order & wait months). I believe they are substantially higher priced today for the same (2021) van.
 

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A buyer's perspective as I am shopping or rather waiting for the "right" van for us. A total newbie to RVs. I compare everything with the new Thor Tellaro/Sequence selling for $80K. I was advised on this forum to build my own van. I have zero skill. Someone on this forum posted his personal build cost. It took him 185 hours. 185 hours x $50 per hour (Is that fair?) = close to 10K for labor, which is fine with me, but it seems that his build doesn't include a shower, AC, and generator. Anyway, the Thor Sequence has an AC, a generator, and a basic solar system. I did talk to a handyman who has done great work for my properties. He said he could build a van for me. I haven't sat down with him talk about the details yet.

It's a definitely seller's market, but here's a $275,000 that makes me shake my head. I thought the finish was pretty rough. The price is ridiculous.

One of the few reasons that will make me look for someone to build a van for me is I can choose a Ford van over a PM. I understand this may not be the right thing to say on a PM forum. I don't know anything about the mechanical part of it, but I just didn't like the high seats in PMs.
 

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2021 Ram Promaster 159" EXT
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If a DIYer wanted to sell their PM DIY Camper Van, what is your opinion of figuring out the market value. I am not looking for “just list it at a high price & let the market figure it out” I am trying to get ideas of how you would evaluate the asking price on your used DIY Camper Van.

In my home town there are custom builders & going that route is not inexpensive.
So just thinking... there are VERY expensive components that can be easily removed if you do it right (like solar panels, chargers, and battery bank, they can always install a less expensive version if they want) and even some appliances as well. A casual camper might not need all of that and be happy with a coleman camp stove, a cooler, etc. When pricing your van DO make sure to make them PAY for the expensive systems in there. But if it's "too expensive" and not any bites I personally would take out my LiOn battery bank and replace it with cheaper system, keep the good stuff for myself! IF I ever sell I will likely want to keep my expensive appliances/electric systems and those things I can remove and re-use I will.
 

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas
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A buyer's perspective as I am shopping or rather waiting for the "right" van for us. A total newbie to RVs. I compare everything with the new Thor Tellaro/Sequence selling for $80K. I was advised on this forum to build my own van. I have zero skill. Someone on this forum posted his personal build cost. It took him 185 hours. 185 hours x $50 per hour (Is that fair?) = close to 10K for labor, which is fine with me, but it seems that his build doesn't include a shower, AC, and generator. Anyway, the Thor Sequence has an AC, a generator, and a basic solar system. I did talk to a handyman who has done great work for my properties. He said he could build a van for me. I haven't sat down with him talk about the details yet.

It's a definitely seller's market, but here's a $275,000 that makes me shake my head. I thought the finish was pretty rough. The price is ridiculous.

One of the few reasons that will make me look for someone to build a van for me is I can choose a Ford van over a PM. I understand this may not be the right thing to say on a PM forum. I don't know anything about the mechanical part of it, but I just didn't like the high seats in PMs.
Hi,
That was my van with the 185 hours -- details here:

I did try to keep track of hours as I went along, but I may have missed a few hours, and did not include the online research time, which was considerable - mine was an early conversion with not nearly so much info out there to draw from.
Materials were about $6K. Total all in cost with new van was $36K.
I honestly had a barrel of fun building the van, so $'s for labor does not compute for me.

As you say no AC, as we don't go to places that are hot.
No shower because in 4 past RV's that had showers we almost never used them. Its really common to hear from people that their shower has become a storage closet because they never use it. We don't even have hot water except to heat it on the stove, and have never missed it.

Our RV's over time have become simpler and simpler -- less junk is better, and makes a more wide open van that feels spacious. We like lots of windows, wide open layout, permanent bed, and no extra junk -- but, that's just us.
The beauty of building your own (or having it custom built for you) is that you can do whatever you want. Deciding what you want is the problem :)

There was a post over on the Transit forum from someone who gave the details on how he contracted out to multiple small contractors/handymen to build the various parts of the van. He put a lot of work into knowing exactly what he wanted and picking his contractors carefully. It appeared to work out very well for him both dollar wise and function wise.

Gary
 

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A buyer's perspective as I am shopping or rather waiting for the "right" van for us. A total newbie to RVs. I compare everything with the new Thor Tellaro/Sequence selling for $80K. I was advised on this forum to build my own van. I have zero skill. Someone on this forum posted his personal build cost. It took him 185 hours. 185 hours x $50 per hour (Is that fair?) = close to 10K for labor, which is fine with me, but it seems that his build doesn't include a shower, AC, and generator. Anyway, the Thor Sequence has an AC, a generator, and a basic solar system. I did talk to a handyman who has done great work for my properties. He said he could build a van for me. I haven't sat down with him talk about the details yet.

It's a definitely seller's market, but here's a $275,000 that makes me shake my head. I thought the finish was pretty rough. The price is ridiculous.

One of the few reasons that will make me look for someone to build a van for me is I can choose a Ford van over a PM. I understand this may not be the right thing to say on a PM forum. I don't know anything about the mechanical part of it, but I just didn't like the high seats in PMs.
That contraption on the roof is absurd -- and did this guy take into consideration the weight limits for the roof? You definitely can't stack a PM that way with its 300 pound weight limit for the roof.
 

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A buyer's perspective as I am shopping or rather waiting for the "right" van for us. A total newbie to RVs. I compare everything with the new Thor Tellaro/Sequence selling for $80K. I was advised on this forum to build my own van. I have zero skill. Someone on this forum posted his personal build cost. It took him 185 hours. 185 hours x $50 per hour (Is that fair?) = close to 10K for labor, which is fine with me, but it seems that his build doesn't include a shower, AC, and generator. Anyway, the Thor Sequence has an AC, a generator, and a basic solar system. I did talk to a handyman who has done great work for my properties. He said he could build a van for me. I haven't sat down with him talk about the details yet.

It's a definitely seller's market, but here's a $275,000 that makes me shake my head. I thought the finish was pretty rough. The price is ridiculous.

One of the few reasons that will make me look for someone to build a van for me is I can choose a Ford van over a PM. I understand this may not be the right thing to say on a PM forum. I don't know anything about the mechanical part of it, but I just didn't like the high seats in PMs.
185 hours seems like very little time for DIY van build to me and I have what I would call "moderate DIY" skills. You must consider that you are asking for advice on a forum filled with DIYers. Many of the forum members here are retired from careers in engineering, home building, etc. Converting a campervan is just a fun hobby for them.

You can get lower seat bases for the Promaster. Lots of reasons to choose ford over PM or vice versa, to me one big advantage of the ford is that you can get a wagon version with passenger seating/rear airbags installed. Also, last I looked the ford is much more common and parts/service would be easier. Advantages of the PM are price, FWD, and width.

Just took a look at the thor sequence, looks pretty nice for the price, you'd want to evaluate the quality of the build to some degree. Some of the stuff that comes out of the midwest RV plants is very poor quality. Also, most of those builds from the RV companies are not designed for winter use if that is important to you.
 

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I would estimate a spent about 8 weeks, 7 days a week, 5 to 7 hours a day on my build (you can do the math) and I know what I’m doing but a lot of that was sourcing materials and planning not to mention working in both the garage and driveway in NH in January & February in below freezing weather with a space heater.
 

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2017 - 2500 159
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Yeah 185 hours would be very little if it included research. The research is the vast majority of the time for me. I've probably spent 400 hours already and I've yet to start on cabinets and water system. But the building time is very little. Even if I'm out there for 6 hours, that's probably half thinking.
 

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2017 Promaster 3500 Ext.
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A buyer's perspective as I am shopping or rather waiting for the "right" van for us. A total newbie to RVs. I compare everything with the new Thor Tellaro/Sequence selling for $80K. I was advised on this forum to build my own van. I have zero skill. Someone on this forum posted his personal build cost. It took him 185 hours. 185 hours x $50 per hour (Is that fair?) = close to 10K for labor, which is fine with me, but it seems that his build doesn't include a shower, AC, and generator. Anyway, the Thor Sequence has an AC, a generator, and a basic solar system. I did talk to a handyman who has done great work for my properties. He said he could build a van for me. I haven't sat down with him talk about the details yet.

It's a definitely seller's market, but here's a $275,000 that makes me shake my head. I thought the finish was pretty rough. The price is ridiculous.

One of the few reasons that will make me look for someone to build a van for me is I can choose a Ford van over a PM. I understand this may not be the right thing to say on a PM forum. I don't know anything about the mechanical part of it, but I just didn't like the high seats in PMs.
That Thor is a nice van. If you love every choice and finish, perfect!

If the platform is a big deal (don't tell anyone here - but I like Transits as well) I would reach out to upfitters. People with skill, experience, licenses and insurance. Prices will vary wildly from $20k at the low end to well over $100k, but you will be taken through exactly what suits your needs. Price no object: I would use Nomadik (well over 12 month wait) or Overland Van Project (9 month wait) in Portland. On a budget I would consider Boho in Phoenix (no idea what their wait is).

If you can get a van built that suits your needs with finishes you pick on the platform you want that's less expensive, sounds like a win to me.
 

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That Thor is a nice van. If you love every choice and finish, perfect!

If the platform is a big deal (don't tell anyone here - but I like Transits as well) I would reach out to upfitters. People with skill, experience, licenses and insurance. Prices will vary wildly from $20k at the low end to well over $100k, but you will be taken through exactly what suits your needs. Price no object: I would use Nomadik (well over 12 month wait) or Overland Van Project (9 month wait) in Portland. On a budget I would consider Boho in Phoenix (no idea what their wait is).

If you can get a van built that suits your needs with finishes you pick on the platform you want that's less expensive, sounds like a win to me.
Licenses??? Ive seen so much shoddy "professional" van work. I had an upfitter do a small amount of work on my van and had to redo everything that was done.

If I were shopping for an upfitter my first choice for an upfitter would be travois, they use all the good stuff from europe. Next choice would be safari condo, they've been in the business longer than just about any other company and their conversions are high quality.
 

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2014 136” HR
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I have no idea how many hours I’ve spent on my van. I have been known to spend all day on one silly little detail no one else will ever notice. Dozens of trips between van and shop getting it just right. Sometimes I ask myself if I’m crazy. I reply, Nope, I’m having fun." (You will kindly ignore the fact that I talk to myself.)
 

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2018 3500 EXT Camper Conversion in CT (TX for now due to Covid)
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I can say I built the vast majority of the van in a month. Enough to get it liveable and on the road. This included the water system and shower, seating, bed, electrical system, running boards, rear window, two vent fans, and roof rack.

All time after that was just here and there adding things that I didn't have time for in the one month (was supposed to be two but had surgery) I have to work on it. And a lot of it was done in parking lots or a campground (with a beer or two) so I hardly consider that real work time.

Now that I have experience I know I can build a van in a month if parts are not an issue and I was working on it full time.Luckily I was able to do that with my job at the time, I don't know if I would be able to again as my job schedule is more spread out (used to do 80% of my work from Aug-Dec, it is much more evenly spread through the year now)

Long thread to basically say it depends. But no van I have ever seen would be $275k

If money was no object I could build a dream van for $100k with inside and outside shower, seating for 5, sleeping for 5-6, 1200 AH lithium battery bank, and every feature you could imagine in a Promaster and do it in less than 2 months. I wonder if I could sell it for $150k if I did. Since I don't have 100k I suppose imagining will do no good.
 

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Discussion Starter #58 (Edited)
So just thinking... there are VERY expensive components that can be easily removed if you do it right (like solar panels, chargers, and battery bank, they can always install a less expensive version if they want) and even some appliances as well. A casual camper might not need all of that and be happy with a coleman camp stove, a cooler, etc. When pricing your van DO make sure to make them PAY for the expensive systems in there. But if it's "too expensive" and not any bites I personally would take out my LiOn battery bank and replace it with cheaper system, keep the good stuff for myself! IF I ever sell I will likely want to keep my expensive appliances/electric systems and those things I can remove and re-use I will.
Good post @Tracy and Lane

That is always an option to strip out the $$$ parts & sell it without the equipment.
 

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2019-159 HR in CO
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The value of mine is—priceless.
While I agree with this I like to imagine what I would try to sell Jellybean for. Our friend who had a very similar PM sold his for 80k here in CO with 50k miles on it. I don't think I would go quite as high even though we might be able to fetch it. Everyone wants a van out here.

Our total build including the van cost around $47,406.28. Our 2019 Ram ProMaster 2500 159 with 8k miles on it was $32,604.60 after taxes and fees. So that puts the materials for the conversion at 15k after taxes. We could have cut corners here and there but we chose not to. I think Jellybean is a really high quality conversion and we are really happy with it. If I were to sell it the value of our blood, sweat, and tears is probably around 20k to me.

I think I would ask around 70k with the 12k miles that are on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #60 (Edited)
While I agree with this I like to imagine what I would try to sell Jellybean for. Our friend who had a very similar PM sold his for 80k here in CO with 50k miles on it. I don't think I would go quite as high even though we might be able to fetch it. Everyone wants a van out here.

Our total build including the van cost around $47,406.28. Our 2019 Ram ProMaster 2500 159 with 8k miles on it was $32,604.60 after taxes and fees. So that puts the materials for the conversion at 15k after taxes. We could have cut corners here and there but we chose not to. I think Jellybean is a really high quality conversion and we are really happy with it. If I were to sell it the value of our blood, sweat, and tears is probably around 20k to me.

I think I would ask around 70k with the 12k miles that are on it.
@cno Thank You for Your Post !!

Our total build including the van cost around $47,406.28 👍

I am not saying this about your costing “but the words “cost around” reminds me of the humorous definition of a construction estimate (a wild guess carried out to 2 decimal points)😁




I think I am an anomaly from the typical in this way; I very rarely have any sentimental value towards things that I build (even for myself). I can totally understand people who do have sentimental value on their beloved projects (but it is not me).

In Canadian Dollars (approximate figures “taxes 12% & fees included”);
  • New 2018 3500 Ext $43,500
  • Build Materials, Equipment, & purpose bought Tools $10,000 to $15,000
  • Labour (I did it myself & learned much from my very 1st van build) $0

So approximate total build cost (excluding labour) $56,000 Canadian.

Value of Labour;
IMO; one well rounded tradesperson could build a basic to medium camper van if the design & equipment decisions & all the parts were complete & delivered to a “workshop” in 3 working months “12 weeks (without changes).
12 weeks @ 40hrs = 480hrs. KISS & Design can change the hours worked “drastically” - “drastically”. The more basic the build you could cut down that time. This time does not include research or design time.

@cno Your $20,000 labour charge for a well built “camperization” seems reasonable to me.

There is a “professional” builder in my town & without the “Mercedes Van” they charge around $80,000 for the build. High quality CNC computer cut panels & cabinets - high end equipment - Lithium etc.

Selling a Used DIY camper van really is depends on the market of “Supply & Demand”. Right now with Covid & the phenomenon called #VanLife the demand is huge & supply is as we know very limited. So if anyone wants to sell a DIY van right now I do not know of a better time

Building & Economics have been my formal education & decades of working career, so I have an interest in all things economics; work & hobbies. I have several friends that after seeing what can be done to a PM van & looking @ new $120,000 to $150,000 factory build PM camper vans (with all the bells & whistles) understand why I went the DIY route. Not only can I buy & build 2 or 3 new PMs for the price of one Factory Built (no labour included), I can custom design it for our needs/wants. Not only do I not want all the Bells and whistles of these factories units, I really do not want to maintain these bells and whistles.

While performing the DIY van build, it was all about the van & it is a strange transition for us once we start to use the van, it isn’t even about the van, but about the adventure and the beautiful places we get to experience. If I had purchased a factory built van at three times the cost the adventure and beautiful places would not be more adventurous nor more beautiful.

So in the end & with the foregoing paragraph in mind; I agree with @MsNomer & @cno our DIY vans are “priceless” as for what they bring to us “adventure & experiencing a beautiful world”.
 
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