Van Builders

What do you do?

VanBuilders (VB) upfits Sprinter and Transit model vans for recreational and commercial use. The recreational vans that VB builds are classified as a camper van. VanBuilders offers several predesigned layouts that have been based on years of experience. They do not require design time (just picking colors and possibly some materials) and can be finalized quickly. VB also offers custom builds that do require design time and have a different pricing structure.

Do you work on vans that have already been upfit?

There are limited services offered for vans that are not an empty cargo van. Things like roof racks, bumpers, and suspension upgrades are usually available to vans in this situation. There are some situations where some other services from the “what services do you provide for non-full conversion customers?” can be done. It depends on what is already there. VB does not work on cabinetry, seating, electrical, water, among other things in already upfit vans.

What services do you provide for non-full conversions?

VanBuilders does provide select services to customers that are not getting a “full conversion” (from us). Please know that the list below does not apply to all vans and situations. If a van has already been upfit, limited services (from this list) are offered. Those services are mostly exterior.

  • Suspension
  • Windows
  • MaxFan 7500K
  • Seating
  • Webasto Diesel Heater
  • Roof Racks
  • Ladders
  • Tire Carriers
  • Front and Rear Bumpers
  • Winches
  • Lights
  • Side Steps

What we define as a Camper Van?

The line between a “Camper Van” and “RV” is often fairly blurry. In fact, most people use the terms interchangeably (when they are talking about an upfit in a van unibody). While the line between camper van and RV will always have some vagaries to it (RV literally stands for recreational vehicle), there is a perspective that helps clear it up. When looking at an upfit van we can consider if the intent of the vehicle is to be as “off-grid” and adaptable as possible or if it is trying to bring the amenities of a home with us. Vans that are made to be remote and take us to hard-to-reach places are camper vans. If the van gives you most of the features a house does and requires supplemental power/water then it is an RV.

VanBuilders mostly builds camper vans. That is where our passion and designs are focused. We strive to help customers build vans that let them escape civilization but take some with them. Most of our builds feature battery systems, water, sleeping, and more. The goal is to balance bringing civilization with you and being/getting to the places you want to be.

Do you have predesigned van layouts?

Yes, we have some designs that we have developed that are ready to be built. These layouts may have some feature options and color choices. The layouts we designed are based on experience, so it helps prevent many common mistakes people make while designing or building their own van. There is very little design time before a customer can get on the schedule and parts ordered. These layouts cost less because there is little to no design work required. Our most popular designs usually cost between $65,000-$120,000. There are some lighter designs we have that are lower than the previously stated range.

Do you do custom van layouts?

Yes, we build custom van layouts. If one of our designs does not meet a customer’s needs, then they have the option to design a layout. The more the layout varies from our standard designs, the more design time will be required.

What is the design process for custom layouts?

The design process goes like this:

1) A 15–30-minute call/meeting takes place so VB can understand the general features and layout that a customer is wanting. Some very broad stroke estimates may be given for pricing if possible.

2) VB’s design team reviews the information gathered from the first meeting. The team will offer suggestions and comments about the build. If the build is outside the scope of work that VanBuilders is offering, then the customer will be notified of their options.

3) After the team has been able to briefly review the project and approve the initial concept, a second call or meeting will occur. This meeting will take 30-60 minutes (depending on the scope of work) as more specific details are discussed.

4) Depending on how much design work will be required to create an executable layout/plan, an estimate for the build will be given. The range/accuracy will vary heavily based on similarity to previous builds, size of build, and definition of scope. A rough mockup of the van may be provided with estimate.

5) If the estimate and scope are in the customers realm of expectations, we can move into the actionable design phase. A non-refundable deposit is taken, and the VB designer gets involved with the details.

6) During the design process there can be a lot of back and forth as we find a place for each feature. As questions come up, we will seek to find understanding on how to best fit your needs.

7) Once the final design (this includes finalizing the scope of work) is completed a final quote will be provided. A document will be created for the customer to sign that agrees to the written scope of work for the specified price. A 50% down payment for the project is collected so VB can schedule the build start date and begin ordering parts. It is important to note that from this point on any changes to the scope of work (if even possible) will incur change order fees based on how much it impacts the build.

IMPORTANT:

VanBuilders provides estimates to attempt to assist customers in budgeting for their custom build. Due to the complexity of custom work, VB will only provide quotes when sufficient design work has been completed. Quotes mean that VB has actual design work in place to back up them up. As design proceeds it is not uncommon for challenges or even customer decisions to make initial estimates less accurate.

When the design process begins, customers are given an estimate of when their vehicle can begin an upfit based on the immediate schedule. Customer vehicles are not scheduled for an upfit until the final scope of work is signed for and a 50% down payment is received. The schedule is a first project designed/purchased, first serve system. The availability to start an upfit can change from the beginning of the design process to when a design is finalized. 

How long does it take to design a van?

We often see it take 4-6 weeks.

How much does a Camper Van upfit cost?

Pricing varies a lot because of what each customer is looking for. They can start down around $65,000 and go up from there. We have seen a lot of builds fall between $80,000-$100,000 for a 144 Sprinter. We have a couple lighter builds for those not wanting as many features.

How long does it take to build a Camper Van?

It depends on what features are going in the van. It is normal to see a build take 8-12 weeks.

What vans do you work with?

We work with Sprinter 144, 170, and 170E (the extended is rare). We are also working on Transit 148 Long High Roof Vans.

Do you recommend suspension upgrades?

Yes, a suspension upgrade gives customers a notable performance and comfort increase. Factory suspension is meant to be tolerable with a large range of weight. The heavier your van gets the less effective that suspension is. Suspension upgrades not only feel good, but they can help with sway and turns.

Do you install customer provided parts?

Unfortunately, we do not install customer provided parts. There is a myriad of reasons why we do not offer that service. One of the biggest ones for us though is quality. We want to perform a quality install and we cannot guarantee that if we did not source the part (even if the part is in the package and the exact same part we normally use).