Tuesday, October 3, 2023


WOW! Luxury DIY camper van build for under 10K

By Cheri Sicard
This DIY luxury Class B camper van build is nicer than many of the commercial camper vans currently on the market costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, from start to finish, it only cost $10,000 to build. And yes, that budget does include the vehicle itself!

Designer and builder DualEx, one of our favorite RV YouTube vloggers [54K subscribers and 43M views], usually gives away the plans for his build free so you can build one, too. (Of course, he appreciates donations.) This is a brand-new completed project, so he’s still working on getting the plans together, but he says in the video that they are on the way.

Regardless of whether or not you plan to build your own DIY camper van, the video is a fascinating glimpse of what goes into a project like this. And why it need not be expensive.  It also shows a skillful master builder at work. This man has SKILLS!

DualEx’s RV designs and builds are always first-rate, and this one is no exception. But this one is even more amazing in that the goal was to build a luxury camper van that would rival the wildly expensive Class B camper vans currently on the market. However, DualEx set himself a mere $10,000 budget for the project, start to finish!

He said for it to be a “luxury camper van” one of the first requirements is that you had to be able to stand up in it.

Therefore, for his camper van build, DualEx bought a 2004 Sprinter with 210K miles on it for $5,400. The 3500 dually van has a 158” wheelbase. Plenty of room to turn the former cargo van into a DIY camper van!

From here, the video is a fast-motion montage of the entire build, through to completion, interspersed with slowed-down commentary from its creator.

In a nutshell, here are the steps that built this luxury DIY camper van:

  • DualEx starts by laying floor insulation and flooring.
  • New swiveling hardware gets installed in the cab seating to make it more functional in the living area.
  • Next, he heads to the roof to cut holes for a vent and a skylight.
  • After the vent, he installed the window, which, of course, necessitated cutting a hole in the side of the van.
  • In the next step, he installed wall insulation and framed out the interior.
  • He then headed to the roof to install solar panels, and he installed wiring inside the van.
  • Ever the fine craftsman and artist, DualEx installed the creative and decorative van ceiling. Check out the video to see it.
  • Next, he built the camper van’s bed.
  • Followed by building the electrical box and connecting components to it.
  • Installation and painting of the wall panels came next.
  • The van was then outfitted with cameras on all four sides.
  • Now it was time to build the kitchen. This area includes:
    • A hidden desk in a drawer
    • A refrigerator box on wheels
    • A sealed propane box
    • Upper cabinets
    • Kitchen drawers
    • Cabinet doors
    • Laminate-covered counters
    • Two-burner propane stove
    • Large farmhouse-style sink
  • After completing the kitchen it was time to install the rest of the plumbing in order to bring water to it.
  • No luxury camper van would be complete without a shower. DualEx made a stylish one for his DIY camper van that borders on a work of woodworking art.
  • Next, he made and installed a composting toilet.
  • And, of course, a luxury van needs an entertainment system, including a flat-screen TV on a televator.
  • With the little bit of extra space by the side door, he built and installed a closet that includes a coat rack, shoe storage, and a place for the trashcan.
  • The last step was to install the actual flooring, curtains, and upholstery. Not only is DualEx a master builder, he also sews!

Clever ways DualEx kept the budget low

  • As new windows were outside of the budget, he shopped at an RV junkyard and picked one up for just $20.
  • He wanted a Murphy bed in the van, but Murphy bed hardware is expensive. In the video, DualEx came up with a lower-cost alternative using boat seat swivels.
  • As he lives in snow country, a heater was essential, but the name-brand was way outside the budget. Instead, he bought a knockoff brand for $140.
  • Retractable shower doors were WAY outside the budget, so DualEx made his own, using scrap wood and scrap marine fabric that he had in his shop. Be sure to check out the video to see how beautifully they came out.
  • He used wood scraps to frame the cabinet doors and in other areas of the build as well, including for decorative purposes.
  • Composting toilets cost more than $1,000, so that was outside the budget. Because they are so simple, our host decided to make his own for a fraction of the cost. Yep, he built his own composting toilet! You have to see this to believe it. It looks and functions better than any on the market!

WOW! This low-cost luxury DIY camper van is truly as nice and in many cases nicer than those costing hundreds of thousands of dollars!

Simple cost breakdown for the DIY camper van:

  • Vehicle: $5,500
  • Materials: $2,449.82
  • Appliances $1,859.97
  • Total: $9,805.79

What other expenses might you incur when building a DIY camper van?

A few expenses that you might have to buy were not included in the above total, but you might also save in other ways depending on what materials you have on hand:

  • As the batteries came from a video sponsor, they were not included in the budget.
  • DualEx already owned the vent and the fridge.
  • He mooched a few other small items from his sister. Check out the video for details.

While he did stay within his $10,000 budget, it has to be noted that DualEx already owned a shop outfitted with all the necessary tools. And the skills and talents this man possesses are priceless.

In other words, your results may vary.



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Neal Davis
25 days ago

Wow! Thanks, Cheri! This is amazing!

Tommy Molnar
28 days ago

It took me three days to watch this entire video, BUT WOW! This van is a masterwork! At the end he said he was trying to show how you can build a luxury van for thousands and thousands less that you’d pay for one of the well-known units from the van builders we’re familiar with. Of course, he’s got tools and skills I don’t even come close to having. I was totally impressed.

Ernie Powell
1 month ago

He is the next generation RV builder . I am really impressed with this young man talent.

David Crymes
1 month ago

When talent was passed out, this young man was given a lions share. He is one of the most accomplished people out there. Just amazing…..

Cheri Sicard
1 month ago

I think I covered those disclaimers pretty well Bob. The rest is common sense.

Bob P
1 month ago

He’s an amazing craftsman. In your description you gave the cost of the van and materials, however the main cost is labor, how many hours did he take to complete it? Also you have to include the cost of tools to do the precision work so your final cost is misleading. A more informative price would have included these considerations and the average person is not going to have the skill and tools necessary to build a van like this.

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