Plenty of people had some time on their hands during the pandemic. Some saw television programs that talked of full-time RV living. Others heard of opportunities to turn box trucks into living spaces. However, these are not your typical trucks.
Instead, hobbyists ready to cross from truck to RV look for a box truck to begin the transformation. These vehicles come in multiple sizes. What they have in common is a chassis cab truck with cube-shaped cargo space. There is no connection between cabin and cargo space.
Yes, it is possible to convert box trucks into campers
Before you go looking for tools, let’s make sure you know what you are getting into. The finished product can indeed look spectacular. Also, you have full design freedom to make the box truck conversion a direct expression of your personality. However, there are some downsides to the conversion.
For starters, you will not have the fancy gadgets and built-ins that standard RVs come with. In addition, you need to give thought to water flow issues, human waste disposal, and electricity. Most importantly, you may need to think about operating some appliances with propane.
The kind of work that goes into the transformation
Any box truck RV conversion starts with the purchase of a box truck. Since you will be making plenty of modifications, it does not matter if the vehicle is a beauty. It does, however, have to be in excellent structural shape. So, avoid cheap box trucks that an insurer totaled and instead pick up a used item that is inexpensive and intact.
A quick look at eBay Motors shows that you can pick up larger models for about $6,000. The WayWard Home folks suggest drawing a floor plan. We recommend doing it to scale. Know where the couch goes, where the kitchen area will be, what you envision for a bathroom space, and how you want storage to look.
Because human waste is a problem, plenty of insiders choose a composting toilet. Others find that an outdoor shower is a better option than trying to fit it inside. Another pro-tip: choose LEDs rather than other lights to avoid heating the space. Also, insulation is a must.
With the plan in hand, draw areas where you will make cuts. These are likely for the windows, doors, and roof hatches. Select power tools that let you cut through the metal with clean edges. As you begin putting together walls, doors, exterior, and interior pieces, use the same standards that home builders would.
The insulation on the interior should be airtight. There needs to be the ability for moisture to escape on the exterior if you plan to hook up electricity to a recreational generator.
Likely costs versus possible cheaper options for conversions
Talking dollars depends on what you have in the garage. Do you have some great power tools or know someone who does? Do you have access to leftover construction materials? That would be another savings opportunity.
The Two Roaming Souls have put down what they invested, and it makes sense to pay attention. Start with the cost of the box truck. Remember that you need to keep it street legal, so you will pay tax on the price and register it. What do the vehicle and chassis need?
Are the tires in good shape? Does the engine need work? How about the brakes? They spent more than $10,000 on their vehicle and what it took to keep it running well.
Insulation ran about $400, the kitchen space a little less than $1,200, solar paneling about $2,600, electrical almost $900, and so on. Their total was about $17,714 for a van. School bus conversions may sound like a better deal, but remember that Skoolie Livin puts the cost between $20,000 and $30,000, which does not include the cost of the bus.
In short, converting a box truck to achieve your camper living dreams requires hard work and a good chunk of change. However, once it is done, you will have a fully customized camper that will allow you to travel in your own style.
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