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How much does a budget DIY campervan conversion cost?

How much does a budget DIY campervan conversion cost?

Here you’ll find a breakdown of all our costs to get on the road, including base van, legal and conversion. Our total ‘on the road’ cost, including a full year service and insurance came in at under £6,000 GBP (around $8,000 USD).

We still have a bit more to spend, but even taking that into account, we managed to save 50% on our original budget and turned that saved cash into a passive income stream. You can read more about that here.

Pie Chart: Total 'on the road' costs

The figures shown in the tool tip are in GBP.

As you can see, around 65% was spent on the ‘base van’ and ‘legal’. Below the table, I’ll pop in another chart so you can see more clearly the conversion costs.

Table: All our legal / van / conversion costs

wdt_ID Item Category Cost (GBP) Approx USD
1 Van VAN – BASE 2,000 2,760
2 Windscreen VAN – BASE 150 207
3 Service & pads/discs/belt VAN – BASE 300 414
4 Drive shaft VAN – BASE 60 83
5 Mechanic (inc MOT test) VAN – BASE 200 276
6 Fuel cap VAN – BASE 13 18
7 Spare key VAN – BASE 120 166
8 2 Swivel seat bases VAN – BASE 237 327
9 Soldering Iron Kit with Digital Multimeter TOOLS & FIXINGS 23 32
10 5M measuring tape TOOLS & FIXINGS 3 4
11 Drill brush/sand bits TOOLS & FIXINGS 3 4
12 T handle ratchet wrench tool TOOLS & FIXINGS 11 15
13 Copper grease TOOLS & FIXINGS 4 6
14 Socket set TOOLS & FIXINGS 15 21
15 Masking tape, rollers, degreased TOOLS & FIXINGS 13 18
16 Drill bits, brackets and screws TOOLS & FIXINGS 20 28
17 Circular saw & Workmate bench TOOLS & FIXINGS 80 110
18 Everbuild EVBPCHEATSIL Heat Resistant Silicone Sealant TOOLS & FIXINGS 8 11
19 Malayas 4PCs Hex Shank Self Centering Hinge Drill Bits TOOLS & FIXINGS 8 11
20 15 pcs/Set Pocket Hole Screw Jig TOOLS & FIXINGS 15 21
21 Fireangel CO-9D Carbon Monoxide Alarm SECURITY / SAFETY 20 28
22 Smoke Alarm SECURITY / SAFETY 11 15
23 Fire extinguisher SECURITY / SAFETY 10 14
24 Fire blanket SECURITY / SAFETY 10 14
25 NJ Domino-302G Built-in Gas Hob KITCHEN 120 166
26 OUTDOOR DOIT Stainless Steel Inset Square Sink KITCHEN 50 69
27 Mobicool MT48W (fridge) KITCHEN 92 127
28 Whale GP1002 Standard 12V Submersible Electric Pump-White, 10 litres KITCHEN 13 18
29 Kitchen Sink Tap Pull Out Sprayer KITCHEN 26 36
30 Induna Heavy Duty 25l Water Container Blue & Natural X2 KITCHEN 14 19
31 OSB Board & wood KITCHEN 44 61
32 More wood KITCHEN 27 37
33 Folding kitchen brackets KITCHEN 13 18
34 Hose barb tap hose connector KITCHEN 5 7
35 24 Pcs shell cup handles KITCHEN 7 10
36 Tax – 6mth INSURANCE / LEGAL 292 403
37 Insurance – 12mth INSURANCE / LEGAL 405 559
38 Breakdown – 12mth INSURANCE / LEGAL 55 76
39 Window themal foil 10m INSULATION, SOUND & HEAT 27 37
40 Diall insulation wool INSULATION, SOUND & HEAT 16 22
41 Window insulation/blackout INSULATION, SOUND & HEAT 10 14
42 Sound deadening mats INSULATION, SOUND & HEAT 25 35
43 Gas regulator / butane Calor KITCHEN 7 10
44 Gas hose KITCHEN 7 10
45 New full butane gas 4.5kg KITCHEN 38 52
46 12v heater 150W INSULATION, SOUND & HEAT 15 21
47 2.5mm² – Wire (Red + Black) 10m ELECTRICS 19 26
48 50 Amp Circuit Breaker, Fuse ELECTRICS 10 14
49 Switches Panel IP65 5 Gangs w/Voltmeter, USB ELECTRICS 33 46
50 10mm² Black, 1 Meter ELECTRICS 6 8
51 10mm² Red, 1 Meter ELECTRICS 6 8
52 10 Gauge (approx 6mm²/ 60A) 10 ft Black & 10 ft Red ELECTRICS 14 19
53 12-Way Fuse Box with Negative Bus ELECTRICS 18 25
54 1200 Pcs Crimp Connectors, Insulated Wire ELECTRICS 15 21
55 Battery cover clips ELECTRICS 9 12
56 Battery charger 12V 8A ELECTRICS 23 32
57 2 X 12V 130AH EXPEDITION PLUS Deep Cycle AGM ELECTRICS 304 420
58 Bosch Car Battery 12V 95Ah Type 019 S4013 ELECTRICS 105 145
59 Chinese diesel heater ELECTRICS 84 116
60 Split relay kit ELECTRICS 65 90
61 Multifunction voltmeter for leisure batteries ELECTRICS 12 17
62 Electrician – safety & split relay ELECTRICS 250 345
63 Hammerite Kurust 250ml BODYWORK & REPAIRS 11 15
64 Hammerite Direct to Rust Metal Paint Black 250ml BODYWORK & REPAIRS 10 14
65 Hammerite Direct to Rust Metal Paint White 250ml BODYWORK & REPAIRS 10 14
66 Spray paint and primer BODYWORK & REPAIRS 45 62
67 Paint and Rust Remover Pad BODYWORK & REPAIRS 3 4
68 Holts Cataloy Knifing Putty 100g BODYWORK & REPAIRS 3 4
69 Paint wipes BODYWORK & REPAIRS 1 1
70 Side panel clips BODYWORK & REPAIRS 20 28
71 Masking tapes & brushes BODYWORK & REPAIRS 10 14
72 Sanding sheets BODYWORK & REPAIRS 6 8
73 Fire pit ACCESSORIES / OTHER 13 18
74 12V laptop charger ACCESSORIES / OTHER 31 43
75 12V dual cigarette lighter USB/voltmeter ACCESSORIES / OTHER 14 19
76 Brifit Wireless Temperature Humidity Sensor ACCESSORIES / OTHER 11 15
77 Duct tape ACCESSORIES / OTHER 8 11
78 Van key cover ACCESSORIES / OTHER 5 7
79 Thetford Portipotty 365 ACCESSORIES / OTHER 86 119
80 Reversing camera VAN – BASE 30 41
81 Ronseal ultratough clear varnish KITCHEN 19 26
82 IKEA blinds INSULATION, SOUND & HEAT 50 69
Item Category Cost (GBP)
∑ = 6,001

For some reason the table won’t total the approximate USD cost – it’s around $8,000. There are also probably some bits I missed…will come back to this at a later date!

Pie chart: Conversion costs

Base vehicles were hard to come by and whilst we were on the lookout for a ‘clean slate’, we ended up acquiring a 2004 Renault Master ex-ambulance that someone had started to convert. 

There were some advantages and disadvantages of this base van which I’ll cover in another post. With regards conversion costs; the floor was good and so we kept it, the walls were moulded plastic and had decent insulation, so we kept them too. There was also some stuff we could re-use, at least for prototyping.

This was our first van conversion and we made the decision to ‘go budget’ and spend the savings on developing passive income streams, which you can read more about here. So what we did in terms of conversion/spend was to fit that ‘budget’ narrative.

The above chart is simply the top chart, minus the base van costs and legal/tax.

As you can see, we spent a fair amount on electrics; mainly batteries. Two large AGM leisure batteries and we also upgraded the vehicle starter battery to ensure the split relay charger would be effective.

Being an ex-ambulance, there are gazillions of cables, so we also paid for an electrician to give it a once over.

Areas we saved (money) on

The flooring and walls/insulation already being in good enough condition to use was a big saving. We also recycled and used as much as possible of the stuff we pulled out. That saved money, but cost a lot of time!

For the kitchen, we built with basic roughcut wood and OSB board (cheaper even than ply!). Lots of sanding, painting (cheers, da!) and varnish did the job.

Old wardrobe doors form the base of our bed (cheers, granny!) and the mattress was salvaged from the original van — old caravan-style foam and surprisingly comfortable.

We decided against fitting hot water and a shower, however we installed a large sink.

We also decided against an inverter and a fancy fridge. You can read up on our batteries and power calculations here.

Things still to buy/build

We’ve still got about £1.5K remaining from our estimated £7.5K budget (that we slashed from £15K!) and there ‘s a few things still to do…maybe!

  • Bench/table: we have a prototype, mainly built out of random wood. As a minimum, it needs a tidy up or possibly a complete rebuild. This will cost more time than money. Probably about £40 for wood and maybe £100 for foam/furnishings.
  • Cab divide: we’re just using an old hippie throw for now. Need to get some blackout. Can probably have that done for about £40. More if we decide to get something for the front windows too.
  • Skylight blackout: it’s currently way too bright in the morning.
  • Insect nets: keep out them bugs.
  • Some odds and ends for storage: Again; more a time cost than money.
  • Rain gutter &/or awning: stop the water dripping in the siding door and possibly a bit of outside shelter. £40+
  • Wifi router/extender: we haven’t had any issues so far but are looking into this with antenna. Estimate £100.
  • Water inlet/outlet etc: we just have basics for the moment. Need to consider hose inlet & outlet plus upgrading tanks. TBC
  • Solar power: this is up for debate. It was budgeted for but again probably not really required for this van and our planned usage. Could probably do something decent for around £300. 
  • BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres…hmm! At around £700 these were not in original budget and I doubt this is worth the spend, especially if this van is only for the year. Also, we have air suspension, so I’m doubtful there would be enough clearance to accomodate them. Common sense says don’t do it. But damn, they do look good!

The 'time' cost

Whilst the monetary cost may seem low, the time cost has been massive.

I probably would not try to re-use wood that’s all different sizes again; right-angles are difficult enough for us newbie wood-workers!

Nor would I attempt to build a kitchen (in fairness, everywhere was shut due to lockdown so didn’t really have much choice!).

Cleaning and bodywork also take ages, especially when you don’t have a sheltered work space.

And, whilst the moulded plastic roof and walls have their benefits, it’s also a nightmare trying to find anything to attach stuff to.

So that’s where we are for now on DIY van conversion #1. Hope it’s been useful!

I’ll link some of those items through to Amazon at another time 🙂

Other posts you might like:

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