When we began obsessing over van life there were a few things we had to keep in mind:
- It would be expensive (for us) because this was going to be our home and it was worth it for us to spend a little more money to make it the most comfortable.
- We had to be ready for anything to go wrong during the van build process which would only help us when experiencing hurdles once we hit the road.
- We will have to downsize A LOT and learn to be okay with that.
- Everything we put in the van needed to have more than one purpose.
- Ask for help! We made a point to include our friends and family in helping us build the van. Trust me, we are not carpenters, welders, or electricians but many of our friends and family members are and were eager to help us with whatever we need. Plus, it gave us an opportunity to spend time with friends and family before our journey.
With all of these things in mind and after months of staying up late doing research and watching YouTube videos, we decided we were ready to make a purchase.
Laputa, our 2006 Dodge Sprinter (with a Mercedes engine) lived in St. Louis, Missouri, about 5 hours from where we lived. Laputa wasn’t perfect but with only 120,000 miles and for the price, it felt right. Once we got home, a mechanic looked it over and we inspected the rust damage. It was lengthy. In fact, the landscape company had put a thick steel plate over the decaying floor without treating it. This meant that we had a lot of extra expenses to take care of before we began the building process. It was frustrating and we were upset that we had bought a van that was in such bad shape but we knew to stay calm. We accessed the entirety of the frame and the damage from the rust and decided we could get thru it!
Listed below is just about everything we spent money on to build the van:
Foam board, Aluminum Floor, and Glue $150
Spray Foam $400
Solar Panel $Free
Charge Controller $153
Solar Misc. $50
LED Lights $35
Speakers and Wiring Harness $40
2 USB Charging Ports $24
DC Plug-In $10
Ceiling Lumber $89
Lumber for bed $37
Luan Walls $103
Cabinet Lumber $118
Paint Misc. $10
Ceiling Fan $201
Window Tinting $350
Hand Pump $20
Aluminum Backsplash $12
Water Tanks $34
Passport Potty Circa ’80 $Free
The below items will not be relevant to everyone but is important to remember to prepare for the unexpected!
Spare Tire $240
Wiper Blades $40
Rod Bearing, Gasket, Oil and Oil Change, Tools, and Labor $350
Air Filter, Coolant, Windshield Fluid $100
Side Door Roller $50
Welding Frame $200
Rust Resistance $66
Plus, with buying a new vehicle there are always more expenses….
For us, our total was $10,346
Check out our van video to get a better idea of how we put it all together!