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How Much Does It Cost To Convert A Campervan

How Much Does It Cost To Convert A Campervan

If you are interested in converting your own DIY campervan, your first question is probably “How much does it cost to convert a camper van?

This is a very tricky question to answer definitively because all campervans are different.  And the answer ranges from under 1k to over 100k depending on the cost of the conversion materials.  But obviously, those are the extremes and most campervans fall somewhere in between.

For simplification’s sake, let’s say that we are mostly interested in the cost of an ‘average’ modern campervan conversion (just the materials, not including the van itself or labor costs).  And without listing every aspect, key features of a typical modern camper van include…

  • Bed
  • Cabinets
  • Electrical (Solar Power)
  • Plumbing
  • Sink
  • Kitchen Counter
  • Fridge
  • Vent fan
  • Insulation
  • Flooring
  • Walls
  • Ceiling

There’s usually a fair amount of other finishings to complete the build, but that covers the basics.

A typical modern campervan conversion usually costs between $5,000-$20,000 dollars. This is usually enough to build a comfortable DIY campervan with basic home-like comforts.

Again, this is not including the cost of the van or the cost of labor.

Inside view of kitchen, closet, bed, etc of Two Roaming Souls Van

The most expensive item is usually the electrical, it’s common to spend at least $1,500-$4,000 for a decent-sized off-grid solar power setup.

This provides ample electricity for the typical comforts you’ve grown accustomed to (lights, fans, refrigerators, phones, laptops, cameras, TV, blender, etc).  Refrigerators for campervans also tend to be one of the more expensive individual items.  And lastly, wood is another expensive material that really adds up.

But besides those ‘big-ticket’ items, it’s mostly just a ton of smaller items that add up to big money in the end.

DIY Van Conversion Vs Professional Van Conversion

If you are considering the cost of a professional van conversion, be prepared to pay a lot more to cover someone else’s labor. However, if you have a high-paying job, it might be more worth your time to keep working and pay a professional van conversion company.

But doing your own DIY van conversion is the most affordable way to have your own custom van conversion. And all the things you learn along the way will make you better prepared for actual vanlife. When things go wrong (they will), you have a much deeper understanding of how to fix things on your own.

How Much Does It Cost To Purchase A Van?

And of course, you actually need to choose a van for your conversion. The cost of your van needs to be included in your budget.

Choose a Van for Vanlife Pin

And yet again, there is a huge range, from a brand new Mercedes Benz Sprinter van to an old beater van. But generally, you should mostly be looking for cargo vans, because they are the ideal blank canvas for beginning your DIY van conversion.

Buying a van usually falls into 3 categories…

  • Brand New Van: Sprinter, Ford Transit, or RAM Promaster – (MSRP $35,000 – $60,000)
  • Used Low Mileage Van – ($15,000 – $50,000)
  • Used High Mileage Van – ($1,000 – $15,000)

The type of van you choose will largely depend on your budget and your goals for vanlife.

Is this your first van just to give vanlife a try?

Are you converting your van into a full time home on wheels?

Do you need one of the vans with 4×4 for off-roading to remote places?

Are you just looking for something comfortable enough for a summer National Parks road trip?

A Chevy Express, Mercedes Sprinter, and Ford E-350. A lineup of vans in a parking lot.

And as a general rule, your investment in your van conversion should somewhat match the investment in your base van. For example, you shouldn’t do a $40,000 van conversion on a high-mileage used van.

Another good tip when buying used vans, is that diesel engines tend to last nearly twice as long as gas engines. (However, most people know this, so it’s usually baked into the price already).

But no matter what you do, call around to local mechanics and pay for a “Pre-Purchase Inspection”. This is really the only way to verify the condition of a van when buying used (unless you personally are an experienced mechanic).

How Much Did Our Van Conversion Cost?

Let’s take our campervan as an example, we spent about $7,600 on our van conversion (not including the van).

{Our van was purchased and converted in 2019. Sadly, the price of vans and conversion materials has gone up considerably since then. Between 2019 and 2023, inflation is up about 18%}

We would consider our DIY van build as ‘Fancy Affordable’.  It strikes a good balance between price and amenities, with most of the comforts of a home, but using cost-effective materials and products.

Our van is a 2010 Ford E350 Extended that was converted from a retired airport shuttle van. Our van has a fiberglass hightop that greatly increases the overall living space. Older vans with fiberglass hightops are one of the most budget-friendly options of vans that you can stand up in.

And we didn’t really change anything about the van mechanically or add off-road modifications. Off-road mods like lift kits, winch bumpers, external racks, etc, can quickly add thousands more dollars to your total van conversion cost.

But we have learned that we don’t really need more than 2-wheel-drive, great tires, and some essential recovery gear to explore far off-grid.

How much did our van conversion cost?

You can reference our other post for an extremely detailed outline of exactly How Much Our Van Conversion Cost.

It goes into detail for EVERY section of our van conversion process, from the big money spent on electrical, right down to the literal nuts and bolts.

Or watch our Youtube video breakdown.

How Much Did Our Van Conversion Cost Youtube Thumbnail

Other Van Conversions & Cost Breakdowns

A 3D model of a van build layout on SelfCAD

But our van is just one example.

Here are some other van lifers campervans and their conversion costs that illustrate the massive range of budgets from less than $1,000 to over $25,000.

TwoWanderingSoles – $900

DivineOnTheRoad – $3,980

KellyNicoleTravel – $7,906

SaraAndAlexJames – $25,564

Conclusion | The Cost to Convert A Campervan

Campervan with a van cab partition

So, as you can see, the range in prices is pretty enormous.

But for a modern comfortable DIY van conversion with the basic amenities, the price tends to fall between $5,000 – $20,000 dollars. However, there are budget and luxury van conversions that fall outside this range.

The three main price ranges are:

  • Budget Van Conversion ~ ($500 – $5,000)
  • Mid-Range Conversion ~ ($5,000 – $10,000)
  • Luxury Conversion ~ ($10,000 – $30,000+)

The Budget Van Conversion will be just the basics. Using budget-friendly items to include a bed, vent fan, storage, cheap fridge or cooler, camp stove, and maybe a solar-powered generator and simple kitchen sink with a foot pump. The budget van conversion saves money with cheaper materials for insulation, wood, and other finishings.

The Mid-Range Conversion has all the essentials (bed, vent fan, fridge, sink), plus some better quality appliances, insulation, or wood interior. The electrical and plumbing systems are bigger and better. They might include a toilet and/or indoor shower.

The Luxury Van Conversion can include all the works! A roof covered in solar panels, running hot water, heating and air-conditioning, off-road modifications, and topped off with a comfortable luxury interior.

The price/quality of the materials you buy, and the amenities you choose will have the biggest impact on the total price.

Also, the place you buy supplies and tools can impact your total campervan conversion cost. In the United States, Home Depot and Lowe’s are kind of the benchmark in terms of price. But other retailers might offer some savings, like Harbor Freight,, and Menards.

Certain decisions, like adding a bathroom and shower, super-sizing the electrical system, or purchasing premium appliances will increase the price by a substantial amount.

The cost to convert a campervan also varies greatly with the quality of materials.  A sneaky expensive area is the cost of wood.  The difference between the cheapest wood and nicer hardwoods is quite dramatic, especially if nicer woods are used across the entire conversion.

Check out these 15 things that improve vanlife comfort.

I hope this post helps to illustrate the total cost to convert a campervan. And once you have a campervan, what are monthly vanlife expenses like?

Or maybe you aren’t sold on converting your own van. That’s okay! Some people might prefer renting a campervan or buying an already converted campervan.

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