I don't want to be the negative downer person, but I feel the need to add my 2 cents on one issue here.
There is immeasurable value and learning and satisfaction that comes from building something like this yourself. But if there was ever a day where you could build something like this yourself for anywhere close to the cost and quality of buying an existing one, in my view those days are long gone.
If you do try to build something like this yourself, you should go into it assuming that it will cost you an insane amount of hours for the privilege of spending 2 or 3 times the price you would be able to buy an equivalent well maintained one used.
just my 2 cents -- not trying to dissuade you from the project just making sure you go into it eyes wide open.
i know from personal experience how satisfying it is to make your own piece of furniture, but also how wildly expensive it is these days to pay for that pleasure, both in time and money.
Cheapest suitable Campervan that would be large enough to spend 12 months in without murdering each other, or having to stand on the other persons face just to get to the bathroom, would be around £16,000GBP.
The cost of building one to that size and spec would be around the following:
Donor Caravan (To steal the bathroom, water pumps, windows, doors, and some other bits from): £200
Custom Sofa-bed: £400
Wall mounted dining table: £125
Kitchen units: £185
LPG Oven + Fridge: £150 (Appx cost of refurbished units)
Water Tank: £60-100 (Depending on capacity)
Leisure Batteries: £500 (Pretty much the biggest expense minus the van itself)
Water Piping (for Plumbing): £60
Electrical Cables (For running outlets from the Pure Sine Inverter): £50
Solar Charging Units: £250
Carpet: £40 (Really not much floor space to carpet, so it's unlikely to even be that much)
Underfloor heating: £150
LPG Tank: £80
Even if we account a 30% over-budget allowance (£1,444), that still only brings the total spend to £5,054 - which is a grand saving of almost £10,000 compared to buying a pre-built campervan.
I'm excluding things like vehicle and contents insurance right now as that is an expense I would have regardless of purchasing a pre-build, or custom build van. However, I have been quoted around £80/month to insure a van of the size we want, which is rather a nice price!
In terms of building furniture ourselves, I think you have misunderstood a little bit. We intend to have the materials cut to size for us (I have basically no woodworking skills, and don't fancy losing limbs to a table saw!), which will then basically mean we have flat-pack furniture which we will simply screw/hinge together in the places we decide they are going.
We have every intention for getting as much of the stuff as we can, for free or very VERY cheap...we have figured out this is VERY possible. We have seen a few people over the past few weeks, giving away old caravans to people who can transport them (owing to problems such as broken axels, or rotting of the shell), and if we had a way to transport right now, or a place to store, we could have taken them, and gutted them for as much stuff as we could salvage. We also plan to drive around and find homes that have skips outside of them (people who are doing work on their houses) - You do see a lot that are filled with old kitchens/huge bits of wood/old floorboards...if we simply ask the owners, I'm sure they would let us have them for free, or a small price (they are, after all, paying to fill the skip up, and if we can half empty it for them, they will have more space to put junk, and not have to pay out for another skip). Also, by putting the word out on places like Facebook Sales Pages, I am positive (as I have seen them myself) there are plenty of people who have sheds full of crap they don't want, and are not worth enough to sell; that we could take, and repurpose. For example, last week, if we owned the van already, I could have purchased 2x BMW front seats, for just £20 - which would have meant I could have removed the old uncomfortable van seats, replacing them with comfy leather ones. Those were being sold by a friend of ours who is always ripping things out of his old cars, planning on doing things with them, but instead has them sitting in his garage for months on end until his Mrs makes his get rid of them
Right now, one one of the Facebook Selling Pages I follow, there are people giving away old wardrobes, drawers, and sofas - all of which can be stripped down to their basic materials and be re-used. For example - The settee that is being given away is a 3 seater and 2 seater leather (I assume faux leather though). These could be stripped down, the foam from the cushioning could be used for the foam in our custom built settee (making the cost even smaller), the leather be used for something like...a foot stool or whatever, and the wood be used as part of the support system for the kitchen units, and the metal brackets from inside the couch could be used as metal brackets (duh?) for any object that needs to be attached to the vehicle, or attached to another object. Anything we don't use from that can either be taken to the landfill, or simply burned on a nice bonfire!
There are even things like this:Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
£30 for 4 chairs and a nice table...now, I obviously couldn't fit that into the van as it is, but I could probably get the price dropped to about £20-25, then split the table down, remove the top from it, cut is down to size (unless it's the right size...who knows, the pic doesn't really indicate how big it is), use 2 of the legs (cut down so they are much thinner) as the legs that will be on hinges, and use the other 2 legs as the wall mounting - This will obviously leave me with the chairs, but I could probably sell those for £15 or so, which will give me at MINIMUM, half my purchase price back! (Even if I don't sell them, I'm sure I could find them a good home) - This would mean the whole table down from £125 to £25 + the cost of the hinges/bolts for the wall, and having the top of the table, and the legs cut for me...so maybe a total of £50, which is a huge saving of £75 which can be put towards other things!
We can even get things like this, to help do some of the woodwork and such, ourselves (The whole bench is just £5!)Anybody on DC own an RV/Campervan, or completed a conversion?
The only things I really WANT to buy as "brand new" are things such as the water tank (So I know it's leak-proof, and under warranty if anything goes wrong), leisure batteries (because batteries get bad over time, so brand new ones will at least be covered for failure for a period of time), the LPG tank (cause there is NO way I'm risking using a pre-owned GAS tank...that just sounds dangerous!!) and insulation (I'm not even sure you can buy second hand insulation...but maybe I can find somebody who has off-cuts or something, to cut the price down!)
What you have to remember, mousey, is that in the UK, campervans are very very expensive items, and not many people own them. We don't really have people (other than gypsies) living in caravans/RVs/motorhomes, so there isn't a massive stock which causes the price to come down.
Even if you look at a really old camper (Pre-1990) then you have to take into consideration that although you can get one for about £8000 (which is still more than a self-built would cost), those vans are not designed to be LIVED in. They are more for holidays/nights away, and don't take into account the fact we have a medium sized pooch, who would need floor space to walk around and be happy (his happiness is one of our primary concerns when it comes to this, and a lot of the design has been done around that).
Having the build done by ourselves will mean we can have it exactly to our specifications and taste, and also allow us to give Munch (our doggy, for those wondering), enough space to be happy.
We don't intend to be in the van 24/7, but, like any home, we could be in there for a week or 2, only leaving to go to the store (when we don't want to interact with other humans! haha).
Also, building ourselves to a budget of £4000 (which can be stretched a little, if we decide we need to) over a period of the next 6 months (taking money from each paycheck to buy the things we need (we have budgeted £600 each month for this) would give us a HUGE sense of satisfaction, and a massive appreciation for the place we will be living. It will also be a very fun project for myself and Katie to undertake as a couple, and give us an excuse to do more things together