How Much Does It Cost To Custom Build A Van
For anyone wondering how much it costs to convert a van by yourself, we've got you covered.
We really wanted to show people how much it cost us to go the route we did which isn't the most cost effective. There are many cheaper options on how you can do your van, but we weren’t looking for the cheapest way to do it. We wanted our van to be comfortable and feel like a home and less like we're living out of a van.
Since this post was originally written, we've learned a thing or two about van life, check out these posts below!
We saved pretty much all of our receipts.
We did not include sales tax on here, so just add Californias sales tax or even your own state to the total if you want to know exact amounts.
We’re going to list out categories of things. Some stuff on our receipts we have NO IDEA what it was..so we added it to the accessories category.
Converting a van the way we did, was not a cheap endeavor. We decided this was our home and studio for the next two years, so we wanted to make it as comfortable as we could. We also wanted to do it completely ourselves (minus the cost of installing granite counter tops and hiring someone to sew cushion covers.
Im first going to go over the main things we wanted in our van before we breakdown the costs:
Layout of the van.
Our decision to make the van layout the way it is, was because we needed to be able to live comfortably for long periods of time AND run our business out of it.
We needed enough space for a table that we could both work on together, all of our office supplies and gear as well.
For our bed setup, we are both pretty tall people; I'm 5'8 and Cody is 6'0. I happen to fit perfectly across the bed, its just Cody has to be either diagonal or hang his feet off the edge.
Which is fine and works for us.. We used a memory foam mattress topper and cut into four sections and added some covers. This bed is super comfy and works for us well.
UPDATE AUGUST 2017: we recently took out our closet to make our bed longer. Sleeping diagonal was not fun.
Power & Electricity
Power in our van was a big priority. We need to be able to power our devices, charge our camera gear and edit videos for long periods of time.
We also wanted to be 100% solar and not have to rely on an offshore charger. Although it would be nice for those cloudier areas. (we may add this to our van eventually)
If you are looking for help installing solar to your camper van, click the post below:
Adding to the power, we wanted to spend a little more for a super efficient refrigerator. One that draws a minuscule amount of amps per hour.
We decided to go with a NovaKool and ordered it from Sure Marine. These refrigerators are not cheap, but we thought it was important. We also considered purchasing one of these because a ton of other van lifers use them.
We originally thought we wanted that one, but decided to go with the NovaKool because we like that it opens like a regular refrigerator and not like a cooler.. We love it. Its awesome and it fits all of the food and beer we could ever need. Plus, there is a freezer for ice cream!
The Design Theme
Originally going into the design, we wanted to stick with the overall black and white theme so that we could change it up with color every so often.
The countertop is black galaxy granite. Its black and has little specks of copper in it! After choosing this, we decided to go with copper accents to match the granite countertops.
We got the piece of granite as a. gift from a friend which was awesome. We took it to a professional countertop install company and got it polished, cut, and installed for $600.00.
For those of you wondering if it's too heavy for our van:
it originally was about 600lbs before we cut it. Once it was cut down, it was only about 150lbs/200lbs. So not too bad for adding weight to our van. We were a little worried at first, but every thing is cool.
Alright, here is our cost breakdown:
New 2016 Sprinter VAN:
Total Cost: $54,120.99
So, there you have it folks. That’s how much we spent. Before we bought the van, we sold EVERYTHING. Im telling you, everything we’ve owned. We sold it before our apartment lease was up.
So for a couple months we had nothing in there. Some pillows on the floor and a small side table. It was actually hilarious because our friends would come over and be like “wow, you really weren’t joking about selling everything you own and moving in the van.”
The only things we kept we’re some kitchen supplies, clothing, blankets&pillows, camera gear, computers, and snowboarding gear. We also have four boxes of sentimental items stored away in our family’s storage.
We had a decent amount of money saved, plus the money from selling our stuff and our vehicles. We started saving for our van at the beginning of the year in January, and we bought our van in June and started the build near the end of June.
It definitely cost more than we thought, but the money we’ll be saving compared to living in Downtown Portland will add up over time.
Well worth it!