Before you decide to start converting your van, you need to ask yourself some questions. Think of these questions as an exercise. I encourage you to read through these questions and write down your answers. Once you finish answering all the questions, look at your answers and take some time to reflect on what you want to do.
- Realistically, how much am I going to use this van?
- How much time am I willing to spend to commit to the conversion process?
- How much money am I willing to spend?
- How many months of nice weather do I get where I live?
- What skills do I have? What am I willing to learn?
Realistically, how much am I going to use this van? How frequently are you planning to use your van? Do you want to use your van every once and a while to go on trips, or do you plan on living in your van every day for months and months at a time? Van conversions normally take a year when you do it yourself. Are a couple of weekend trips every once and a while worth a year of your time?
How much time am I willing to spend to commit to the conversion process? How much free time do you have every week? Are you willing to spend all or most of that working on your van? When I started my conversion process I was in high school virtually and I was not working. I had a lot more free time to spend The amount of free time significantly changed now that I am in college and I work full-time. How much of that free time will you need to do errands and household chores? Converting a van is a commitment and you will need to be adaptable. Sometimes things take longer than we want them to. The amount of time you are able to put in changes, but does that mean you give up? You have to be willing to make sacrifices if this is something that you really want to pursue.
How much money am I willing to spend? When I started my conversion process, I was in school and I was not making a lot of money. That being said, we did not have many other bills so every penny that we spent was devoted to the van. Even if you were to budget out everything perfectly in the beginning, there will still be hidden costs. Things break, or you need more of something, or you need to buy something that you did not expect. This is a normal part of the process, but you will need to be willing to spend more than you plan for. This couple that broke down their DIY process came to about 20,000 dollars for the entire process (Far Out Ride, 2022).
How many months of nice weather do I get where I live? Unless you have a huge indoor garage to work in, you will be doing the majority of the work on your van outside. I live in Phoenix, Arizona. We have hot summers that last from April to October with temperatures that are consistently in the 100s. At first, we were working during the summer, but it was absolute HELL. I did it for one summer and I made myself a promise that I would never do it again. For other people who live somewhere where it snows or it rains a lot, you will not be able to work during that time. You will have to take the months when you are unable to work into account when making your timeline.
How many skills do I have? What am I willing to learn? Converting a van on your own means that you will cut down on labor costs, which is great. What is not great is that you will have to learn how to do things that you have never done before. For example, I had to learn how to use a circular saw. You will have to learn new skills when converting your van. You will also have to know what you are not willing to do and take that into consideration.
Far Out Ride. (2022, February 16). Cost and labor of DIY camper van conversion. FarOutRide. https://faroutride.com/cost-and-labor/