Last Updated on January 2, 2022 by Douglas
Converting a van to make it livable is a common practice. People do it so that they can save money. Vans are relatively spacious as well so you can travel long distances without getting tired. They are the perfect way to live a life on the road in comfort. Before you go for a van conversion, you need to know how much does a sprinter van conversion cost. There are a lot of factors that would contribute to this. Many people get overwhelmed when they realize just how many factors are involved.
We are here to help with this. We have compiled all of the relevant things that need to be kept in mind while drawing up a van conversion estimate. Many of the costs that are incurred might not even seem immediately apparent to you. This is mostly because you are not yet familiar with the process. We will start off by discussing why converting a Sprinter van is a good idea. This will help you contextualize the various costs that would come with this.
Why You Should Buy And Convert a Sprinter Van
There is a reason why so many people convert sprinter vans. This reason is that this is the only kind of van that is suitable for long distance travel by road. That said, such vans tend to be really expensive. They are not made for live in comfort either. Which means that converting the van is the only way for you to get the results you are looking for. It can help bring the cost of the van down since you would get the chance to buy it used. Used vans are always going to be cheaper than newer ones.
Used vans also make for a smarter investment. They have already been devalued due to being second hand, so there’s not much further that their value can drop. The changes you would make by converting the van would boost its value. Hence, you are buying a commodity for cheap and sprucing it up to increase how much it’s worth. This makes it a sound investment for anyone to make. Everyone needs to have fun by going on vacation. Turning your vacation expenses into an investment can stop them from being dead losses. You can sell the van down the line for a lot more than you bought it. Hence, your vacation would essentially pay for itself.
Finding The Right Sprinter Van
There are a number of considerations that need to be made before you can buy a van. Understanding how sprinter vans work is crucial. Otherwise you might make a purchase that isn’t all that beneficial for you. The first factor that you should consider is the body style of the sprinter van. There are three kinds of bodies that you can go for, each of which have their own benefits and disadvantages. Many of the differences also come down to costs.
Now, all of the van bodies that are available have approximately the same length. However, the most affordable option is also ironically the tallest. This is the sprinter cargo van. It doesn’t have windows in the back which contributes to the lower price. You can get a wheelbase that’s either 12 or 14 feet long, and there is an option for an extended wheelbase as well. Cargo vans generally sell for at least $34,000. They offer 319, 488 or 532 cubic feet of interior space based on the model you choose. The lack of windows can actually be a good thing for your van conversion. It can give your van interior some privacy.
The second option you could go for is the Sprinter Crew Van. The wheelbase is generally offered at the same lengths as cargo vans. You can get either 262 or 371 cubic feet of interior space. That’s a bit less than what cargo vans offer. However, you do get a rear window. This is useful for a lot of people that can’t live without natural light. Such light is important after all, so it’s understandable that so many people would prefer it to other body styles. These kinds of vans typically start from about $42,000
If you want the best of both worlds, you might want to try the third option. This is the sprinter passenger van. The name will probably tell you why it’s so great. It combines the interior capacity of the cargo van with the windows and luxury of crew vans. You get at least 420 cubic feet of interior space. A larger model offers 544 cubic feet. What’s more is that you would get two windows in the back. Enough to provide fresh air and natural light for everybody.
After you have decided on a particular body style, you need to decide which fuel type works best for you. Two options are available here, namely gas and diesel. Diesel engines are generally more popular. They offer superior performance and speed. Diesel engines also reduce maintenance costs. However, don’t write off gas engines completely. They actually have quite a bit to offer. For one thing, they work better during colder weather. This is because gas isn’t affected by temperature. Gas also tends to be more fuel efficient in urban settings. Standing vehicles that use gas won’t use as much fuel as those with diesel engines.
One final consideration that you should make has to do with extras and accessories. Such things can make a huge difference to your van. An example of a useful accessory is a swivel chair for the driver. The person driving the van shouldn’t feel left out. Swivel chairs help them easily turn around and take part in the fun. A sliding door is also a nice feature to have. Such doors are a lot more secure. They also operate better in tight spaces. Pay attention to the accessories you are getting with the van. They can help make the conversion process a bit easier in the long run.
Why You Should Consider a Pre-Converted Van
Before we tell you how the conversion process works, we want to discuss pre-converted vans. These are sprinter vans that someone else bought and upgraded. The conversion process will already have been implemented. This is something that most people should seriously consider. A pre converted sprinter van is a lot cheaper than buying a new van and converting it yourself. You can get a pre converted sprinter van for as low as $25,000. Options that cost up to $100,000 will give you various levels of luxury and comfort.
That said, this might not be a perfect option for some. You will have to make do with a conversion that somebody else performed. Not having a say in how a van gets converted can make it difficult for you to enjoy it. The whole point of converting a van is so that you can fix it up according to your preferences. If you’re not too fussy, though, pre-converted vans are a great option. The people that sell these vans know what they are doing. Chances are they will have made a van you would definitely love. Check out some of the options that are on the market. If nothing else, they will give you some ideas that you can use for your own van.
The Benefits of Hiring a Van Conversion Company
We have discussed an affordable option. Now it’s time to see the other end of the spectrum. If you have money for it, the most luxurious option would involve hiring a company. Lots of companies specialize in van conversion. They will charge you a hefty fee for their services, of course. But you can rest assured that when the van is complete it will look way more amazing than anything you could have done yourself. You might even want to save up to hire such a company. The benefits they provide are definitely worth it.
For starters, they are experts in the field. This is literally what they do for a living. Hence, all of the advice that they would give you would be top notch. They can plan out the van and make it livable. You can also tell them what kind of preferences you have. They would definitely incorporate these preferences into the overall design of the car. They might even guide you if you’re not sure what direction you should head in while designing the van. If you don’t know how converted vans should look, it can be difficult to come up with good ideas.
Van conversion professionals can also help temper your design impulses. You might have a design in mind that simply wouldn’t be practical. A conversion professional can tell you this and prevent you from making any mistakes. They can give you alternative ideas that fall within the same range. That way you can get the van you want while also being practical. Every decision you make will have consequences. Filtering these decisions through the lens of a professional can help make them sound. You can rely confidently on a van that professionals have worked on.
Hiring professionals can also give you access to things that would have been difficult to attain otherwise. These companies are able to buy high quality materials in bulk. Which means that they can make luxury a bit more affordable in a way. You will have a wider selection of materials to choose from. Along with the professional team that is required to decide which materials would work best. It can be difficult to get so many options without hiring somebody. Most of the materials these companies have aren’t even available for retail use. Only businesses in the industry can access them.
Another thing that you would get by hiring a company is the chance to build a solar setup. Solar systems and electrical systems are very complicated. Especially when you are installing them in a van. Conversion companies know how these systems work. They can help you figure out how much energy you would need. These kinds of things require quite a bit of calculation. They also involve factors that you might not be familiar with. Someone that works in this field would probably have these numbers off the top of their heads.
Of course, the most pertinent benefit of hiring a van conversion service is that you wouldn’t have to do a thing. All that’s required of you is to answer certain questions. These questions all relate to the van you are going to enjoy. So you probably wouldn’t mind answering them. The quality of your van would also be a lot higher. Saving so much time and energy and also getting a superior van is part of the reason why so many people love going for this option. The cost is worth it when you look at the advantages. Some might even consider this to be an investment.
If you’re worried about the costs, there are plenty of options for you. Many of these companies are aware of how expensive their services. Hence, they offer financing options and payment plans. You can get the conversion done and pay it off slowly over a period of time. Most van conversion companies also offer warranties. This makes their services even more financially prudent. If anything goes wrong, a team of experts would come to fix it. It’s easy to see why money spent on a van conversion service provider would be well spent.
How to Save Money By Converting a Van Yourself
Doing it all yourself is a bit of a middle ground. It’s a lot cheaper than hiring a conversion company. And you also get complete control over the design. So those that know how interior design for vans work should have no trouble with this. This option is excellent for people that have a very specific idea of what their van should look like.
It’s not just about the money either. A van that you convert yourself would be entirely your own. You would feel proud whenever you show it to somebody. What’s more is that you would be familiar with its ins and outs. There wouldn’t be anything that you were previously unaware of which would suddenly cause problems for you.
There are a number of things that you can do to bring costs down even further. Try using recycled materials in the interior. They are very cheap because they haven’t been newly made. You can find a lot of recycled material online. These options can help you save money without compromising on quality. You don’t have to buy everything brand new after all.
Sometimes a used material can work just as well. You can also opt for cheaper materials. Some materials are so cheap that they would barely influence the cost of your conversion. If you are strapped for cash, you can go for the cheaper stuff. Once you have saved up a bit you can always replace it with something else.
Adopting a DIY mentality can save you a lot of money. The more things you do yourself, the less you have to pay for labor. Laborers are not going to come cheap, the less time you spend with them the better. At least as far as money is concerned. Plenty of things don’t even require laborers in the first place. People just hire them because that’s how things are done now, not because they provide any actual benefits.
One thing that you can do yourself is make curtains. Buying cloth and stitching it into a set of curtains is much cheaper than buying curtains yourself. Hiring laborers for this is also way too expensive. You can also adopt this kind of a mentality with solar power. Traditional solar setups are really complicated. However, you get solar kits that are easier to use. These kits can be implemented all on your own. That means you wouldn’t have to hire any laborers at all. Which is a huge expense that you are now able to avoid.
There are a lot of opportunities for saving money when it comes to appliances as well. Plenty of refurbished appliances are out there. This includes fridges, microwaves and stoves. Brand new appliances are always nice to have. But if you’re looking to save money, you need to find cheaper options. Used appliances can cause a lot of problems.
You never know whether or not they will work. If your appliance breaks down you would have to get it replaced or repaired. Both of which are really significant costs. Hence, used appliances might make you spend even more money. But you still need an affordable solution. This is where something like refurbished appliances can come in. Such appliances are great and they last a really long time. They’re also a lot cheaper than new appliances.
Another cost saving solution has to do with where you buy certain things. Solar kits and electrical systems will always be expensive if you go to a brick and mortar store. eBay might have some better options. Plenty of people would be looking to sell off items that they no longer need. They might even be willing to sell them for a really reasonable price. Hence, you can get all of the items you need at a very low cost. Just make sure that you check the items out before buying them. Sometimes items that are severely damaged are sold as if they were just like new.
A major advantage of doing the conversion yourself is that you can do as much as you afford and save the rest for later when you have more money. Van conversion companies wouldn’t be willing to do half a job. Only a DIY van conversion offers this kind of perk.
Cost Considerations And Total Estimate
This is another aspect of van conversion that is impacted by various factors. Estimating the price beforehand is important. It can enable you to prepare for the money that you are about to spend. At no point would you ever need to worry about running out of money. It’s a common issue for van converters to deplete their funds before the project is over. Planning ahead by calculating costs is a good way to prevent such an issue from occurring. There are about four or five factors that need to be considered while coming up with a cost estimate.
You should start by looking at how many people will be traveling in the van. This impacts things like the number of seats that you would need to buy. Sometimes you might not need seats at all apart from up front where the driver would be. This is because you would need more sleeping space than sitting space. This shows that there is a difference between the number of passengers and how many people would actually be sleeping in the van. Each number needs to be calculated a little differently in order to get an accurate estimate.
The cost of your electrical system is also quite significant. Your choice of solar power or fuel based generator matters here. Both of these systems will cost a lot. However, solar energy does end up providing free energy. Opting for solar energy can be a bit more expensive than getting a generator. But you don’t have to keep buying fuel to keep your solar setup operational. This is why it makes for such a great option that you can look into. Solar energy is perfect for wandering without worrying about how close you are to the nearest gas station. It offers the kind of freedom that people looking for van life would always be interested in.
You will also need adequate plumbing for your sprinter van. The cost of plumbing varies. It has a lot to do with the number of passengers as well as the number of berths required. Four people can generally share one bathroom with ease. If you add a half bath their needs would he fulfilled even more thoroughly. One and a half baths can facilitate the living requirements of up to six people as well. However, if you need to sleep more than six people in your van, you might want to get two bathrooms put in just to be on the safe side.
Another thing that you should keep in mind is a cooking setup. You can install a kitchen in your van. For this you would first need a stove. Try to get a three burner so that you can cook with ease. Two burners can also work nicely if you don’t plan on cooking a lot. Or if you have a small family thereby necessitating smaller meals. One choice that you should make is whether you want the cooking setup indoors or outdoors. An outdoor setup can save space in the interior for other purposes. It also helps you cook more conveniently since there would no ventilation issues. Hot summer months can make cooking indoors difficult. Just get an outdoor setup so that such problems don’t arise. Outdoor kitchens are also generally cheaper than indoor ones.
Finally, you need to consider your storage options. This is perhaps the most important element of any kind of van conversion you might take part in. Your primary focus here should be water storage. Both fresh water and gray water storage should be accounted for. You will also need a storage space for gas that you might use for cooking and heating. Don’t forget storage for your personal belongings too. Clothes, hiking gear, cooking utensils and a lot of other things need to be stored properly. Try to increase the space inside the van by implementing storage spaces smartly. For example, you can put a storage space under a seat or your bed. That way it wouldn’t require extra room in your van. Doing stuff like this can help you make the most of your otherwise compact or cramped space.
A Step By Step Guide For Calculating Cost
There are three steps that you need to follow in order to come up with an accurate estimate. The first step would involve tackling the big expenses. This would include things like your solar setup and kitchenette. The total cost of all of your large items can come up to under $6,000 if you follow our cost saving tips. If you want something a bit more extravagant, you might end up spending up to $13,000. This is the upper limit of the expense, though. Any more than this probably wouldn’t provide you with any real benefits. It would most likely just be a wasteful expense that fails to add value to your van.
The second step has to do with materials. This is the second biggest expense after larger items which is why it follows the previous step. Some of the material that you would need includes rubber or foam for insulation as well as wood and tiles that would help make the interior livable. If you use tiles in the bathrooms and flooring outside then flooring needs to be accounted for as well. Primer and paint also ends up being somewhat expensive.
Some people ignore these costs thinking they won’t come up to much. This is a huge mistake since it would take an important chunk out of your estimates. All things considered, this second step should bring you up to a total of about $1,500 if you are conservative. If you aren’t trying to save money it can cost up to $6,000. That means that so far your van conversion has come up to $7,500 if you are going for cheaper options. Or it would be coming up to around $19,000 if you are opting for the extravagant options.
Now all that we are left with is the final step. This is a relatively simple step. It won’t cost a lot once you are done with the estimates. You basically need to calculate extra costs here. Things like accessories and decorations need to be factored in during this step. The total amount being spent here shouldn’t exceed $900, and that’s if you are spending with abandon. Try to keep lighting in mind as well. Factoring lighting in beforehand in this step can help you get the lights you truly want. You can spend a little extra on lighting since it doesn’t cost that much anyway. Think of any furniture that you might want to get as well. Getting all of the costs down at the very start of your van conversion journey can help you save a lot of money down the line. It also facilitates a smoother van conversion experience for everyone involved.
Many people can bring the cost down to $500 if they shop around smartly. Hence, your total cost for a sprinter van conversion can be as low as $8,000. That’s affordable for pretty much anybody out there. Even a luxurious conversion would cost no more than $20,000. This price would be more than worth it when you consider the advantages you are getting from it.
How Much Time Will It Take?
This is the only thing that’s left for you to consider. It is important because it impacts how soon you would be able to get out on the road and drive to whatever locations you are interested in. We know that you are probably excited about completing the van as quickly as possible. However, you can’t rush something that’s so important. Being patient and taking your time is essential here. Rushing the job could lead to a lot of problems that would be extremely difficult for you to solve.
The time it would take to convert your van essentially boils down to how much time you have. How much time do you have that you can devote to this project? Come up with an accurate estimate of the number of hours you can put in each week. Everyone has a job that they need to deal with. So it’s understandable if you can’t put in dozens of hours each week. Instead of biting off more than you can chew by estimating a much higher number of hours than you can manage, be conservative in your estimate. Round off the hours you think you can work to the lower whole number. That way even if you skip a few hours here or there, it wouldn’t affect the projected finishing time for your project.
It generally takes about 1,000 hours to properly convert a van with all of the fancy features you might want. You can do the math yourself too, but let us help you with that. If you work eight hours a day, five days a week on your van, that would mean you can complete it in about 6 months. You don’t have to work alone, though. Each hour that someone else helps you with your van would mean one less hour that you need to work.
If you have help from three or four people and you can work on the van full time, it’s possible to finish the conversion in about three months. You can bring this down to one month if you have lots of help and don’t want too many extra features. We recommend that you go for the longer approach, though. It will give you a van that you can rely on during your travels and prevent you from having to make any compromises along the way.
And there you have it! There is a lot of information that you need to digest before starting your van conversion. But once you get a sense of the scale of your project, proceeding should be no big deal. As we have showed you above, van conversion is not as expensive as people think it is. If you have some money to spare, you can use it to hire a service to do the job for you. Or you could save money and do it yourself. We still think that pre-converted vans are the best option since they are so affordable. However, we also understand that some people just aren’t going to be happy settling for something that someone else has made.
Converting the van yourself is a great way to ensure that it looks just the way you want it to. You can also add the specific comforts that matter to you. Rather than spending excessive money on things you don’t need. Whatever option you choose, our layout of the process should help you implement it successfully. All that you need to do is plan in advance. Try to think of problems that could occur as well. That way you can deal with these problems effectively if they ever come up.