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TygerCub 05-13-2009 07:22 AM

Budget expectations? Howdja doit?
I've been putting off this question, looking through the forum for "budget" and such, but now's the time to bite the bullet and just ask...

For those of you who built "homes" (not just occasional camp living spaces)
  • How did you guys budget for your bus? Did you have a plan, or just work as you went?
    What cost range did you set for yourselves, and did you keep on-target?
    Were there any surprise expenses?
    What was the most expensive item you purchased (besides the bus)?
    What was the total cost of the vehicle and mechanical fixes to make it road worthy?

Sorry if this is prying, but while I know I'm willing to spend at least $5k for the bus & repairs, I have no idea if that's reasonable... and the rest is a mystery.

Any advice is good advice. :D

paul iossi 05-13-2009 09:21 AM

Re: Budget expectations? Howdja doit?
figure out what all of the big pieces will cost and then multiply by 5, it seems like all of the little stuff kills the budget, hardware, adheesive, paint etc.

the big question is how good are you at finding deals? some things can be used and some stuff needs to be new, I would use salvage sinks drawers etc but new plumbing, wiring, etc. water heater, stove, refer, toilet if they are in good working order, still in production and have good parts availbility use your best judgement.

My experience is that you can't afford the right stuff, don't cobble it up, wait until you can do it right, it's cheaper than reworking - if you opt to use less than prime components allow room to swap them out in the future.

since your heading for a full time rig, you would probably benefit from looking at the escapees rv site, their are lots of people that fulltime and or winter in their rv's over there, lots of info,experience and opportunities/options

TygerCub 05-13-2009 10:17 AM

Re: Budget expectations? Howdja doit?
Hmmm... Looking at the prices for new RV parts, I see what you mean by being nickle & dimed to death. I'll see what's available locally for a "donor" RV. Good advice 'cause I'm sure there's plenty out there.

SeanF 05-13-2009 12:01 PM

Re: Budget expectations? Howdja doit?

How did you guys budget for your bus? Did you have a plan, or just work as you went?

What cost range did you set for yourselves, and did you keep on-target?
I made it a policy to NOT keep track of the costs as I went. I'd rather have a completed rolling home where I went over budget, rather than getting 3/4 done, freaking out over the costs, abandoning the project and then probably sell it at a huge loss anyway.


Were there any surprise expenses?
Yeah, the kitchen stove. I started out buying a 20" Sears gas range. Only after installing it did I find out that it used an electric "glow bar" to light the oven burner....that glow bar used a lot of watts. :? Couldn't return it, so I tried to sell it. Nobody, but nobody wants to buy a practically-new 20" kitchen stove. 50% off....75% off...90% takers. :? So I decided to donate it to a thrift store. They required a $25 fee for safety-testing any donated gas appliance. :shock: Jeebus. So then I bought a real gas stove with a range and oven that can be lit with a match. All told, my kitchen stove fiasco ran about $700. Lesson learned (that is, triple-check those specs! :lol: )


What was the most expensive item you purchased (besides the bus)?
Most expensive single item was the DC fridge ($850). The most expensive system was the solar electric system...ran about $4500.


What was the total cost of the vehicle and mechanical fixes to make it road worthy?
$2k for the bus, $800 for new steer tires, about $1k more for front-end suspension and steering work on the right side (bashing curbs for 11 years).

Hope this helps

timbuk 05-13-2009 08:21 PM

Re: Budget expectations? Howdja doit?
yep if yer gonna build a skoolie like seans its gonna cost ya.But if you are gonna live off grid the solar system is a must.I got an old moterhome and it has helped alot,fridge,awning,fuel tank,just to name a few items scored of of the rotten carcass.Pricey inside items include fridge,heat,hot water.Outside items include brakes,tires.Lots of hours but who counts those?Benefits of using your bus priceless!{so im told}

TygerCub 05-13-2009 08:30 PM

Re: Budget expectations? Howdja doit?
There's a pop-up for sale cheap in the area. The description says it has a stove, fridge, toilet and A/C.
Do you guys think the items that fit inside a pop-up be robust enough for the skoolie?

If I strip it down, I'd probably use the shell/base to build a toad since they said the bearings were recently re-packed.

timbuk 05-13-2009 08:40 PM

Re: Budget expectations? Howdja doit?
yea that would work if you can get a bigger one you will get grey/black/fresh water tanks,a bigger fridge and maybe a furnace.Look around you dont want to get stuck with a tiny fridge!

gotmuddy 05-13-2009 08:55 PM

Re: Budget expectations? Howdja doit?
We arent going to be live-a-boards but We have recognized that its the little things tuat kill the budget. We are incredibly lucky because we have found some awesome deals localy. A local scrapyard has two campers that we hijacked two water tanks off of for fresh and grey water for 75 bucks. A military surplus guy has really nice michelin XZE steer tires for 75. We bought a new a/c unit, water heater and water pump.

TygerCub 05-15-2009 03:26 PM

Re: Budget expectations? Howdja doit?
Did a lot of research (I'm a research NUT), and crunched some numbers and came up with 4 different budgets for the bus...
1) Bus + All New Stuff............. approx $25,800 :shock:
2) Bus + Stuff I Already Have.... approx $18,300 :o
3) Bus + Donor Equipment........ approx $17,300 :(
4) Bus + Cheap As Possible!...... approx $15,200 :)

Of course, all of these figures include a $7,000 520watt PV system from, so if anyone knows of a less expensive system with the same power output, I'd be grateful to hear of it. :D

Static costs (items that don't vary across build estimates) are
$3,000 for the bus
$ 500 for a good bed (don't want to skimp on that one)
$ 250 for LED lights (better to save power)
$2,000 for roof deck materials
$ 500 minimum for framing/shelving/wall wood
$1,680 for insulation (1280 sqft of sheet foam + spray foam... can never have too much insulation)
$ 500 for all three tanks (40 gal. fresh, grey & black)
$ 300 for plumbing supplies
$ 300 for wiring
$8,980 subtotal :D

If it wasn't for the PV system (which is a MUST since this will be my home), I could do this for under $10K. But since I will want to wire and plumb it before doing any other installation work, it's gonna be a bank buster. Not too bad if the house sells anytime soon, but since the housing just took another dive, this is gonna be a long-term nickle & dime project. :(

Do these figures sound right to you guys? Anything look WAY off?

GoneCamping 06-07-2009 10:07 PM

Re: Budget expectations? Howdja doit?
I didn't really keep a tally of what I spent, but I tried my best to do the entire thing on the cheap. Early on I was given a donor unit, a fifth wheel with a caved in roof. I got a lot of stuff out of that, but the big disappointment was the refridge was no good. As such, I bought a Magic Chef 10 CF unit from Home depot for $299 and that was the most expensive single item, followed by my "Larsen Security" entry door that ran a very close second at $295... I got a nice RV 3 burner stove top from ebay for $30, and most of the windows, cargo doors, and various other items from ebay or craigslist.

The little stuff is exactly what get's ya, you never have enough of anything. I must have gone through over 500 pan head TEK Screws, and another 300 longer TEK Screws, and countless 4" cutting wheels for the angle grinder.

The single item that took the most, was TIME...

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