One of the questions we are asked more than any other (by far) is the following:
How much does an Airstream renovation cost?
While we address this somewhat in our FAQ section, we felt that a post covering this topic was long overdue. As we move forward with expanding The Modern Caravan, we want to empower and share our knowledge with those of you tackling this work on your own. So let's dive into costs of renovation below.
**It is important to note that the numbers and questions below do not reflect the costs of hiring us, they are reflective of the work we've done for our own renovations. These costs do not include labor.
There many factors that go into these numbers, and they all start with asking questions:
- What is the condition of your project?
- Size of your Airstream/caravan?
- Are you planning to fully gut it? In our opinion, you should not skip this step.
- What tools do you already own?
- What tools will you need to buy? There are a lot of tools you'll need (check out our resources tab to get started) that aren't necessarily in the everyday garage.
- Are you creating custom cabinetry or buying pre-fab?
- Tile or no? High-end hardware? Hardwood or laminate?
- What are the amenities and options you want on board? Water heater? Solar? Oven? Water tanks? Make a list. Start researching some of these costs. We recommend creating an Excel spreadsheet to record your findings and compare and compute.
- Will you need to hire out any of the work? Electrical, welding, cabinet making?
Whatever your budget (and timeline) are, double-triple-quadruple it. It's not going to be what you expect!
While looking to others to see what their renovation costs have been, remind yourself that your project will be somewhat, if not completely different. We know folks who started renovations before we started our first that aren't yet completed. This is good indication and reminder that everyone's schedules, budgets, and tool and knowledge arsenals are different. For example:
- A couple with no kids, freelance jobs with flexible schedules, access to a bevy of tools, open budget, and prior knowledge of renovation is likely going to finish their project faster than say...a couple with four kids, 9-to-5 office jobs, very little prior knowledge, a stretched budget, and basic tool access. The couples are likely to choose different outcomes for their projects based on all of these factors, and the budgets could vary widely.
For our first Airstream renovation, we were in a wildly different financial situation. We had a better work set up because we owned our home. Our daughter was younger and not in school yet (i.e., no school functions or extracurriculars or drop offs/pickups yet). We bought a cheaper Airstream, spent a year renovating it with long stretches where we couldn't afford to work on it, and the build was simple and the amenities slim, based on what we could afford.
- 1957 Airstream Overlander: one year to complete, $16,000 in supplies and tools, and $4000 to purchase.
On our second Airstream renovation, we had more knowledge. We didn't do much for the first six months we had it, as our budget didn't allow for it. Things picked up steam when our budget opened up, though renovation was more difficult on us, as we lived in a rented duplex with a shared driveway. Our schedules were busier given that our daughter was older. We designed and built an intricate and complex interior bursting with amenities and high end fixtures.
- 1977 Airstream Overlander, one year to complete, $35,000+ in supplies and tools, and $5000 to purchase.
Just within our first two Airstream renovations we did for ourselves, you can see a big difference in circumstances, budgets, knowledge, and scheduling. All of these things play into budget and cost. What worked for one person may not work for you, and it's important to remember as you're deciding on how much you can afford.
*If you are interested in working with us on developing a personalized budget for your Airstream, we would love to help! During our one-hour consultation, we will help you come up with a basic plan for your project based on photos and video you share, along with a set of questions that will help us determine your needs and wants. Shoot us an email to schedule your consultation!