How to build a camper van for under $300

If you are like me, you can spend hours on pinterest looking at those phenomenal camper van builds. I’m talking about the wood walls, floors, and seemingly perfect folding bed. My goal is to build something like that, but very frugally. I set a budget of $300 to get the basics done. This included: flooring, insulation, bed, shelves, etc. This budget does NOT include: mattress, lights, power sources, etc.
Let me start off by saying that the only previous time I have worked with wood was in woodshop during middle school. So I am going into this headfirst. The only “experience” that I have is from watching youtube videos on van builds. Okay, so lets get into it. I am going to give it to you plain and simple.

First step: Check your local thrift shops and second hand stores.

  • Goodwill
  • Salvation Army
  • Habitat for Humanity Restore Center

This is because those stores sell items for EXTREMELY CHEAP. I purchased one pound of nails for $1.00 whereas the same nails would be $10.00 at a Lowes or Home Depot. Another reason to shop at the stores listed above is because you can get entire cabinets and tables, desks, etc for under $50. If you are like me, you can turn a small book shelf onto its side and create a nice looking mini kitchen for the van.

Another resource to utilize is craigslist. I am talking about the free section! This area is where you can also find good items. This is more of a hit or miss though. I actually found a nice looking futon for free on craigslist and I am picking it up in a few hours.

Some of the more expensive items in a van build that I have noted is the flooring. This could either cost you the most, or the least. I will tell you the route I took, and you can decide what you’d rather do… I purchased vinyl flooring from the Habitat For Humanity Restore Center for $15.00. It was more than enough to cover my van’s floor. Under the vinyl flooring I have some plywood. This cost roughly $32 to fit my entire floor. Under the plywood is reflectix. I covered the entire floor for about $20.00. In total I am still under $70. Let me tell you something though, my entire floor cost less than it would be if I purchased the vinyl flooring new. Utilize the thrift stores!!!!!

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