Total Cost and Labor: DIY Camper Van Build

Last Updated: July 24, 2021

Total Cost and Labor: DIY Camper Van Build

Cost and Labor

How much does it cost to build a DIY Camper Van for vanlife? Well, it varies greatly with the number of added features and quality of components used during the conversion. But to help answer that question, we tracked and categorized the cost of our entire DIY camper van conversion. Hope that helps!

A few notes:
– Installation hardware cost is included in major components below.
– The hours shown are hands-on time spent building the van; we probably spent over 400-600 hours of research and planning which is not accounted here…




$US 20,150
  • Climate Control $3700
  • Electrical System $4515
  • Living $11135
  • Other $850


HOURS 640*
  • Climate Control 168
  • Electrical System 86
  • Living 370
  • Other 15

*In fact, it’s probably close to 1000 hours. Why? There is ALWAYS hours lost here and there that we did not account for…



Click on any items below to access their Build Journal Post!


Electrical System Design:


$US 4515
  • Solar Panels 600$
  • Batteries (lithium) 1900$
  • Charge Controller 225$
  • Battery Monitor 205$
  • Inverter 370$
  • Battery Charger 215$
  • B2B (alternator) Charger 400$
  • Others (wiring, switch, fuses, etc) 600$


  • Solar Panel Installation 6
  • Main Electrical System 40
  • Lights, Pump, 12V Sockets, etc 40


Click on any items below to access their Build Journal Post!


$US 850


  • Van interior removal & preparation 2
  • Black Plastic Cladding Fasteners Sealing 1
  • Interior Rust Proofing 1
  • Surprises! TBD


Monthly Vanlife Cost since 2017

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About us



Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017, we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers, and moved into our self-built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then, and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams, and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!

29 thoughts on “Total Cost and Labor: DIY Camper Van Build”

  1. Hello, do u do custom cabinet or electrical installations in the Seattle area?
    Please call anytime.
    Art 206-910-7334

  2. Hi ! I’m Daro from Poland. Just looking for car for make a van.
    How do you get your living money while traveling? just a blog? People need this information if someone is planning a longer trip.

  3. Thank you for the amazing resources you put together!!! I’m getting a lot of inspiration and tips from your experience!

    There is one thing that is not clear to me: is the number of hours you state calculated per person or overall?
    If you were two people working on the van, those 640 hours are actually 320 per person = 16 weeks * 20hours per week (the full weekend of work).
    If I work on a similar project with my wife (assuming no delays in sourcing parts) does 4 months working all weekends sound like a reasonable estimate? We would have basic tools and no previous van conversion experience, but we are handy and know how to build things.

    • These are the total hours for both of us; so 320h x 2 = 640. But as we noted in small prints, we probably spent close to a 1,000 hours in reality…
      Of course the time will vary with the features you add, the quality of the work, your tools, your experience, etc. So I can’t really advise if 16 weeks will be enough or not sorry.

      Good luck!

  4. That power calculator is awesome! Wish I saw it before I did my design in my head, but I went overkill on everything in case someone wants to upgrade later.

    There are bargains to be had, I got a wfco RV power center which has the converter , bat. charger, breakers, fuses and 120 and 12v busses inside for $140. That a $88 1000W inverter and $40 battery monitor and I should be able to do a 200ahr system for less than $3000

  5. You have done an amazing job at sharing a TON of helpful information. My dream is to build an electric camper van. on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle WA, is uses Maxwell Vehicles e-Pro system to make 159″ wheelbase Promasters electric using Tesla powertrains. Range is only 175 miles, which is actually better than many of the European camper vans that we in the US market cannot obtain. Los Angeles, CA. Sad to read in your van selection that the front wheel drive is a disadvantage, but EV-works/Maxwell may be using AWD on the converted ePros. Fabulous that you followed your dreams and are willing to share so much information that encourages others to follow theirs! Wonderful! Thank you!

  6. I love everything about your life and am super impressed with how you documented every detail for others to see. I’ve been having similar thoughts to this sort of lifestyle as a fellow engineer, mtb’r and dirtbag rock climber but have one detail I struggle with, if the goal is full time living why a van and not an RV? You can get a super rad used Class C RV for under $20k ready to go that probably has twice the inside space in a 25′ length version and you dont have a spend 1000 hours converting it. I’m well versed in Sprinter Van culture and personally have a full sleeping setup in the back of my pickup truck but it seems the livability of an RV every day would be well worth its lumbering size driving down the road. Is stealth camping worth the small package or road nimbleness that much of a limiter for you? I’m currently leveraging my 4×4 capabilities on my weekend adventures but transitioning to a 4×4 sprinter is pretty pricy and it seems 2wd is inevitable.


    • Hey! We would love the space of an RV, but it would be too much of a compromise on off-road capabilities (summer & winter); we use our van for trail access and shuttling quite a lot as this is our only vehicle. Some roads are steep and rough, an RV definitely wouldn’t make it. Also, we benefit from being stealth quite a lot, especially as sleeping in vehicle becomes prohibited more and more everywhere.

      Hope that helps!

  7. Amazing resource!
    You guys did an incredible job documenting everything.
    We (me and wife) are in the “planning phase” (july 2020). We work as engineers for the Aerospace Industry and definitely will use this site as a major source of ideas, solutions etc.
    Thks a lot.

    Claudiano Araujo

  8. wow ! I mean WOOOOOW ! you have created an amazing resource. I am just starting my 170xt build. I am 68 retired . two years ago I lost EVERYTHING in a hurricane (living in US Virgin Islands) gone …
    it has taken me two years to recover. Now I am ready to take on another adventure. I am doing some very simple but unusual things in my build (don’t we all !). the rear will be completely framed in with top “awning style” windows and a louvered fan and access to lower cabinets for propane water and electric (both inside and out). the side slider will open to have an interior wall with a door and windows. removing pax seat and building platform with crate for my 4 dogs. metal oem bulkhead will be used with a small access for dogs and a louvered fan. this van is for me and my 4 dogs. anyway …I have thought about your comment re creating a “square” interior. if you cut into that plumb line you can reclaim that space ! ??? anyway I plan to study your website. it is amazing ! THANK YOU ! I plan to hit the road Dec 1 and head south to warm weather. YAHOO !!

  9. Isabelle & Antoine,

    Thank you both so much for all the hard work and effort you have put into this amazing project. I recently purchased all of your diagrams and guides, they are so incredibly helpful and I am using them to build my Promaster 3500. I have some modifications for my needs and I feel your plan allows for a lot of flexibility, which is extremely useful/practical. Again, great work!

    I do have a question about tools. As a person with no tools, could you recommend a kit (see link) that has most of the big tools you needed/wanted? It doesn’t have to be with this company, just looking for something that covers “most” items. Thank you for the help!,4401,8583,4408,4414

    • I’d say the MUST HAVE tools are:
      – Power Drill
      – Right Angle Drill (for small spaces)
      – Circular Saw
      – Jigsaw
      – Orbital sander

      I think that covers the basic, you’ll probably have to get a few other tools along the way 🙂

  10. Thanks for creating such a professional resource. Your web site is truly one of the best!
    You guys are so smart and articulate, and your web skills are very impressive.
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
    Your data is a reality check. Time and cost is usually tripled from my optimistic estimate.

      • 30 hours for a floor? I’ve installed 1,200 SqFt of flooring in a basement in 1.5 days or about 15 hours.

        40 hours for an overhead storage? I’ve done afternoon projects of about that size. 40 hours is an entire work week.

        Sorry I really am not trying to be rude, I am just having trouble fathoming how you are spending that long on these types of things. I am trying to figure out if I would be able to gain a head start enough in 1 month of work on a van.

        • Remember, there’s not straight line in a van. Everything is curved and you can’t just screw anywhere. Many people start by making everything “square” (by boxing the interior) to make the build easier, but that’s a huge waste of livable space. We wanted to take advantage of every inch, so we worked with the curvatures at every step. It’s very different than building a house!

          That being said, we had no experience building anything really; and we had just the basic tools. I’m sure if you have the tools & you’re a handy person you’ll do it faster than us. We answer dozens of questions each day, and it seems most people building vans are in a similar situation than us (newbies), so we believe most people can relate to the time listed on our page.

          Cheers! Happy build!

          • Agreed with Antoine.
            Building my first camper and it for sure takes time.

            No matter how much time I have spent looking at forum and reading DIY, i’m still struggling from time to time to find the right solution.

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