3 Tips For Saving Money When Converting A Van Into A Camper

Posted on: 8 November 2019

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If you have the desire to drive around on the open road, going wherever you want, one way to do that is by purchasing a large van and turning it into your own personal camper. A van turned camper is more economical, in terms of size and energy consumption, then a large motorhome, and is often a more appealing way of achieving the dream of living on the open road for people on a budget. 

When it comes to turning a van into a campervan and establishing a new lifestyle for yourself, there are some steps you can take that will save you money during this process. 

Money-Saving Tip #1: Invest in a Well-Taken Care of Van 

Many people make the mistake of trying to purchase an old, beat down van to turn into a camper van. However, this is the wrong way to go. When you purchase an old van, you are not only going to have to pay to convert the inside of the van into a camper van, you are also going to have to rehab the mechanical side of the van, which can be really expensive.  

Instead, you want to invest in a van that is well-taken care of. Treat this purchase like you would the purchase of any used vehicle; don't expect a perfect vehicle, but try to get one that is well-taken care of. Look into the service records and the vehicle's history report. Get the van inspected by a mechanic. You don't want to "save" money buying a van that only costs $3,000 just to discover it needs $8,000 of mechanical work before you even start the conversion when you could have spent $6,000 and purchased a van that was in good mechanical shape. 

Money-Saving Tip #2: Gut & Clean the Van Yourself 

The next thing you can do is gut and clean the van yourself, instead of hiring someone to do this task for you. This can be a dirty and time-consuming task, but can really save you a lot of money in the long run. As you remove the interior parts of the van, don't assume that they are junk. Try and sell valuable items, such as seats or speakers. You may be able to get some money for your project by trying to sell the items you are gutting instead of just sending them to the landfill.  

Once you remove the seats and other interior items, be sure to clean the inside of the van. That old carpet may not be in the best shape. To clean the carpet, purchase a carpet cleaner or sprinkle baking soda on the carpet, scrub away at any dirt, and vacuum everything up. Remember to deep clean the hard surfaces inside as well. 

Having a clean space to work with will help stay focused as you work on renovating the inside of the van. 

Money-Saving Tip #3: Use Used Items for the Interior 

Once you have a plan for what you want the inside of the van to look like, start sourcing the materials you need. Don't buying everything brand-new, as that can be costly. Want to install a kitchen? Purchase cabinets that have been returned to the hardware store and are being sold for a discount. Need a stove? Grab an old camping stove at a garage sale. Use second-hand items to save money on the interior conversion project.  

Save money on converting a van into a camper van by purchasing a well taken care of van, by cleaning and gutting the van yourself, and by using second-hand items to create the interior. To learn more about do-it-yourself van conversions, consult a resource in your area.