High-Roof Camper Conversion Cost
The average cost to convert a high-top campervan is around £15,000, including the cost of the van.
This is broken down as follows:
|Materials + Insulation||£1,000|
Use our FREE quick-buy high-top campervan parts list to easily find and purchase all the necessary accessories to build your own micro campervan.
We’ve chosen a good middle ground for the cost of converting a high-top campervan, suitable for full-time living. You can spend much less than this, if you use recycled materials and have a smaller system, or spend over double if you build a more off-grid system.
It’s equally true that you can spend £50,000 on a brand-new van and spend £40,000 paying someone to convert a van for you (if you have the money).
This blog will explore the average cost of converting a high-top campervan, where the money goes, and how you can save money (or spend more).
Cost of a Van – Vehicle Cost
We’ve done a blog comparing the best high-top vans for a camper conversion to compare the pros and cons of different van makes and models.
You can spend upwards of £50,000 on a brand new high-top van or £1,000 on an old banger with dubious service history, but for a decent second-hand high-top van, we would estimate around £8,000 for a budget-friendly vehicle.
£8,000 is enough to find a decent 5-year-old vehicle with a good history. High-top vans are commonplace on the marketplace, but there are many bad buys out there due to their life as a workhorse.
Vehicle Cost: £8,000
Van Building Cost
Once you have your good condition empty van, you now need to convert the entire thing. This includes many steps like insulation, furniture, electrics, plumbing, heating and more.
This is where you can seriously save money, depending on the materials you use and the spec you want, or spend a bit more for a more luxurious build and go fully off-grid.
We will split the build into sections, give you the average cost of each, and some tips on how to save money or when it might be a good time to spend a bit more.
Building Materials + Insulation
Materials + Insulation: £1,000
This section includes insulation for the build, all the wood, plywood and various other large building materials (like pre-made furniture pieces, countertops, and drawer units).
You may already have some scrap wood lying around that you can utilise, but if you’re starting from nothing and are going relatively basic, £1,000 is a good estimate.
Advice and money-saving tips for building materials and insulation
- With a high-top van, mixing fluffy loft insulation with PIR Insulation board is a good insulation plan
- Reuse the plywood that often comes with vans, even if it isn’t for the walls/floor, instead of buying new
- Buying thick pieces of timber and manually cutting them down often works out much cheaper
- Pallets are often free and a great source of wood after a quick sand
- Facebook marketplace, gumtree and charity stores are great places to find bargain furniture
- Pre-measure before cutting to pre-fit shapes on sheets of ply to reduce waste
Screws and Joiners
Screws and Joiners: £250
Everything that holds everything together and upright. Screws, brackets, fasteners, glues and tape.
Although only £2 a box, you’ll need every single size of screw (I guarantee). You’d be surprised how many go into a micro campervan conversion.
Advice and money-saving tips for screws and joiners
- A lot of furniture comes will small screws inside the box; utilise these
- Buying a trade pack of screws (a big box with many sizes) is often cheaper than individual boxes
This £2,500 budget assumes a conservative electrical system, meaning you can go a few days off-grid, with some basics (lights, charging phones, water pump, etc…), but also the ability to power AC appliances with a 1000W inverter.
To give you a good idea of how this £2,500 can be spent, here’s an example:
- £1,080 – 230Ah Lithium Battery
- £110 – 40A Battery to Battery Charger
- £550 – 400W solar panel kit (panel + charger + wire)
- £100 – 15A AC Charger
- £300 – Wire (various thicknesses and lengths)
- £40 – Battery Monitor
- £20 – 12V Fusebox
- £20 – Switchboard and USB plugs with volt screen
- £20 – LED light strip
- £130 – 1000W inverter
- £150 – Other (fuses, wire holders, wire crimpers)
This setup includes a decent size lithium battery setup (our first full-time off-grid setup was 200Ah of Lithium and lasted us just fine for a year), with a decent solar and dc-dc charger setup, and even an AC charger to charge from an external hookup.
This budget will only increase significantly if you buy more batteries. We upgraded to 920Ah of Lithium, and this doubled our expenditure on our electrical system.
Are all-in-one power systems any good?
The positive of this is that you can save a bit of money and purchase the biggest power banks out there (£1,000 for the big ones) and have everything you need ready to go, and is a portable box, no less! The downside is that if something goes wrong, you lose your entire electrical system, and you have to replace the whole thing. They also generally contain less power than if you were to build it yourself. Not to mention you still need something/somewhere to charge it back up.
Advice and money-saving tips for electrics
- If you’ll be staying at campsites, an AC electrical adaptor is great to plug into campsite power
- If you aren’t going to use any AC appliances in your van, the inverter is not needed
- Place your batteries and fusebox close together, and keep wire lengths as short as possible to reduce the cost of extra wire
- You can save significant money if you aren’t a big power user by switching to cheaper AGM Lead Acid Batteries.
When the electrical system starts to get this large, it can become overwhelming to figure out what sized system you’d need. That’s why in the A-Z of Vanlife Bootcamp, we put together a module specifically on understanding campervan electrics. Combine this with our FREE Electrics 101 worksheet, which should help you understand your 12V campervan electrical needs.
Plumbing System: £800
For a high-top van, a full-on plumbing system is nice to have, including hot water. £800 is a good low-end estimate to achieve all of this:
- £100 – 2 tanks, one for clean water, 1 for dirty water
- £60 – 12V Shurflo Pump
- £30 – Accumulator
- £40 – Sink and drainpipe
- £20 – Sink tap
- £100 – Pipe and plumbing fittings
- £50 – Shower unit
- £40 – Chemical toilet
- £300 – Electrical Hot water tank
- £60 – Other/Misc
This is the basics to have a freshwater tank, a true pump and a hot/cold pipe with a sink and shower unit. Not only this, but having hot water is also possible with a Bobil Electric hot water tank.
Advice and money-saving tips for plumbing
- Keep your pipes as short as possible to reduce the cost on fittings and pipe
- Flexible gym memberships can be an easy way to take long showers whilst on the road, eliminating the need for a shower in your campervan
- For easy hot water, a camping stove like a Jetboil is an excellent idea for teas, hot water bottles and washing up, instead of having a hot water tank
- Automated laundromats are easy to come by and are brilliant for washing your clothes on the go
- Some people find a shower necessary, depending on your circumstances
Heating System: £150
Although you can get away without any heating in a van, to be thorough, we’ve included the cost of a basic Chinese-branded diesel heater. This is mostly because they are very cheap, provide a lot of heat quickly and are beloved by many in the vanlife community.
These heaters are around £150, and for that, you get every need included in the kit. It takes a few hours of work to install it, and you have easy heat fueled by diesel, and your whole van is toasty warm!
You can splash out more (£500+) on a branded heater like Autoterm, Eberspaecher or Webasto heater. Or even get a Hydronic Diesel Heater, which gives instant on-demand hot water and underfloor heating.
Advice and money-saving tips for heating
Decoration + Homey Touches
Decoration + Homey Touches: £1,000
To make your micro camper really feel like a home, you have to make it look all cosy. This means adding wallpaper, paint, stick-on tiles, and everything that makes a place feel like home to you.
Homey touches include rugs, pillows, curtains, a lamp, and other decorations. Whatever you fancy!
£1,000 might seem excessive, but small purchases add up quickly, which is what it cost us in our build. Generally, you need to buy new kitchenware, storage units, and personal touches.
Advice and money-saving tips for decoration and homey touches
- A word to the wise, a campervan is a tiny home…do not go wild… pick your decor with intention… unlike this idiot
Appliances and Other
Appliances + Other: £1,300
Appliances for campervans can be costly. A 12V fridge can be upwards of £800! If you buy electrical cooking appliances, these can also add up quickly, not to mention the unexpected build costs, which this section can cover.
Additional costs of owning a campervan
£15,000 does not include costs for everything when it comes to owning a campervan. There are ‘hidden’ costs, the same as owning any vehicle, and it’s best to know these upfront.
Extra costs of owning a campervan are:
- Insurance. Specialist campervan insurance is usually needed, and this can be vastly different on your job, where you live, age, gender etc…
- Road Tax. In the UK, you must pay road tax on every vehicle you own. A campervan is no exception.
- MOT/Service. Ensuring your campervan is road legal and safe to drive is required by law, and has yearly costs.
- Tools. You may need to buy extra tools to convert your campervan. These can range from £5 to hundreds.