Total Cost and Labor: DIY Camper Van Build

Cost and Labor

Total Cost and Labor: DIY Camper Van Build

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

Nice To Meet You.

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!

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

  1. 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.

  2. Hey Antoine,

    I wanted to thank you for all of the amazingly helpful information. I also had a question, I’m in the process of remodeling a 2018 Ford Transit and was wondering which wires you removed in the interior of the van, besides the lights, before starting your build process?


  3. Thanks guys! This is an incredible resource. This it what makes the internet a special place. We pick or transit highroof ecoboost in a few weeks!

  4. Hello,
    Did you come up with an estimate for the time it took to panel the interior? It says “TBD”, so wondering if there is an update. Thanks!

    • Oh that’s a good question! I honestly can’t remember sorry 🙁

      While paneling, we had to route some wires, install the lights, the wall fan, light switch, etc, etc.; so it would be hard to calculate…

      Good luck!

  5. Would you be willing to duplicate another van like yours for a price? If so what would that be approx amount. I have the Ford Transit 350 High Roof Extended. It’s a cargo van but passenger glass all around.

    • Hi Jim,
      Right now at this very moment, we’re not interested. We just started our one year (or two years) journey and we’re busy living our dream 🙂
      Of course eventually we will run out of savings, so we will have to go back to our cubicle life; at that time, it will be a different story! We could picture ourselves building a van rather than sit in our cubicle…

      Let’s pretend we’re interested. I’m just thinking out loud here:
      There are the fixed costs (materials); you’ve seen the approximate price on this page. Then there are the hours; it says 505 hours as i’m writing these line, but it’s not completed (as mentioned in the intro). It’s probably more like 800-1000 hours. Let’s say 800 hours X our hourly salary. If I go back to my cubicle, I can get about 50-60$ per hour. I’m willing to work for a lower hourly salary building a van, but the question is how much less?

      Sorry for the confusing answer, but right now this is my best guesstimate 🙂

      There are a bunch of dudes/dudettes our there doing custom vans: freedomvans, kestrelvans, etc, etc.

      Thanks for inquiring, you’re welcome to add your inputs 🙂


  6. When you post the labor hours, are they taking into account your combined effort?
    If you spent 100 hours working together, do you count that as 100 hours or 200 man hours since it’s two people?
    I’m trying to figure out how long it’ll take me to complete a build by myself.

    • We first wanted to account for the man-hours, but we realized it would be too difficult to track. The hours shown on this page are not man-hours they’re estimated combined effort. For example, if it took us the whole day to install the Maxxair Fan, we entered 8 hours in the table. That being said, I don’t think that two people is twice as efficient, so don’t multiply the time by two! Also, we did our best to provide accurate time, but as we work part time on the van it’s very difficult to track… hours might be a little off…

      Good luck with your conversion!


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