Cost And Labor Of DIY Camper Van Conversion

Last Updated: March 23, 2022

Cost And Labor Of DIY Camper Van Conversion

Cost and Labor

How much does it cost to build a DIY Camper Van for vanlife? Well, it varies greatly with the features added and the quality of components used during the conversion. And how much time does it take? Similarly, it varies with the complexity of the build. So it’s hard to tell exactly how much and how long it’s going to take. But to help answer that question, we tracked and categorized the cost and labor of our entire DIY camper van conversion. Hopefully it helps you create an estimate for your own van conversion!

A few notes:
We didn’t track hardware cost precisely, but we added it to the cost of major components.
The hours shown are hands-on time spent building the van; we spent countless hours researching and planning (Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.) which is not accounted here…

Logo-FarOutRide-(dollar-sign-cost)

Ford Transit Conversion 2016

Our First Van Conversion

Faroutride Kitchen 3
  • T-250 Cargo Van
  • 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 Engine
  • RWD
  • 148″ Wheelbase, Extended Length (EL)
  • High Roof

Our first labor of love, this Ford Transit camper van conversion took us throughout Canada, USA and Mexico. 4 years of full time Van Life adventures, unreal!

ITEM (click to see installation write-up)COST
($ US)
LABOR
(hour)
Climate Control3,700168
Thinsulate1,05020
Low-E1306
Floor insulation100
Roof fan3608
Webasto gas heater1,30030
Fridge floor vent10015
Insulated window covers50080
Floor vent808
Electrical System4,51586
Solar panels600
Lithium batteries1,900
Solar Charge controller225
System monitor205
Inverter370
Battery charger/converter215
DC-to-DC charger (B2B)400
Others (wiring, switch, fuses, etc)600
Living11,135370
Swivel seat (driver & passenger)9008
Awning1,3008
Floor56530
Platform bed45020
Slide-out-bike-rack2808
Fridge & electrical cabinet23030
12V refrigerator1,275
Overhead storage15040
Bedroom storage15030
Sink & stove cabinet28040
Water system1,10040
Propane system1,00040
Composting toilet1,20020
Wood paneling
Mosquito screens1,2000
Radio upgrade5255
Speakers upgrade1308
Exterior shower10010
Tire inflator1002
Garage20020
Others85015
TOTAL$20,150640 hours*

* To be fair, we most likely spent close to a 1,000 hours total. There is ALWAYS time lost here and there that we did not account for…


Ford Transit Conversion 2022

Our next chapter

FarOutRide-New-Van-2021-Ford-Transit-AWD-Blue
  • T-350 Cargo Van
  • 3.5L EcoBoost (twin-turbocharged) Engine
  • AWD
  • 148″ Wheelbase, Extended Length (EL)
  • High Roof

Life is about project, so here’s an awesome new project to keep us busy for a while! We should start the conversion early January 2022, the cost and labor will be updated as we progress.

ITEMCOST
($ US)
LABOR
(hour)
Exterior
Wheels upgrade
Larger all-terrain tires upgrade
Roof rack & ladder2,5904
Awning
Cell phone signal booster
Suspension leveling kit
Mosquito screens
Climate Control
Roof fan
Bunk window
Thinsulate
Low-E
Floor insulation
Air heater
Insulated window covers
Wall fan
Electrical System
Solar panels
Battery bank
Solar charge controller
System monitor
Inverter/charger
DC-to-DC (B2B) alternator charger
Others (wiring, switch, fuses, etc)
Water System
Fresh water tank
Pump & accumulator
Sink
Water heater
Others
Floor
Insulation is covered under “Climate Control”
Subfloor (plywood)
Vinyl flooring
Others (adhesive, etc.)
Walls & Ceiling
Insulation is covered under “Climate Control”
Paneling
Swivel Seats
Driver3991
Passenger3991
Kitchen
Cabinet (driver side)
Cabinet (passenger side)
Overhead storage
12V refrigerator
Others
Living room / Dining room / Office
Table
Composting toilet
Couch / composting toilet’s cabinet
Bedroom
Bed platform
Bedroom storage
Garage
Slide-out-bike-rack
Others
TOTAL (so far)$3,3886 hours

You Might Be Interested In:

Cost and Labor
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About us


NICE TO MEET YOU.

About-Us-Narrow

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 “Cost And Labor Of DIY Camper Van Conversion”

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

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
  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.

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
  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

    Reply
  5. You have done an amazing job at sharing a TON of helpful information. My dream is to build an electric camper van. EV-works.com 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. https://www.maxwellvehicles.com/in 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!

    Reply
  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.

    -Best

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
  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

    Reply
  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 !!

    Reply
  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!

    https://www.homedepot.com/b/Tools-Power-Tools-Power-Tool-Combo-Kits/RYOBI/N-5yc1vZc2ecZm5d?storeSelection=4411,4401,8583,4408,4414

    Reply
    • 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 🙂

      Reply
  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.
    Robert,
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
    p.s.
    Your data is a reality check. Time and cost is usually tripled from my optimistic estimate.

    Reply
      • 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.

        Reply
        • 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!

          Reply
          • 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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