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Old 03-08-2013, 10:33 AM   #15
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1972 27' Overlander
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I've also got right around $11k in my '72 Overlander, NOT including any cost for my many, many hours of labor. This does include replaced subfloor in rotted areas, rear-end sep. fix, Vista-view fix, entirely new interior, new converter, HWH, water pump, oven, axles, and WD hitch. Paying somebody else to do the work would have doubled the costs, if not more. For some of us, $ is the big issue. For others, free time and/or skills might be the big factor. I guess you work with what you have the most of.
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Old 03-09-2013, 12:01 PM   #16
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1957 22' Caravanner
Coupeville , Washington
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This is my first trailer renovation but I have rebuilt a 30' sailboat and a 30' woodie cruiser. Here is what I have learned. Go lean, I built a ice box( you can get ice anywhere even on the water) that saves $1100 on the cost of a propane fridge, go easy on the lights (LED), that saves on the cost of the second battery, natures head makes a great toilet and you don't have to deal with the disgusting black water tank. I tried to convince my wife that she didn't need a shower to no avail, so I made one out of plywood and Fiberglas
I had no grey water tanks so I built two that fit in the belly pans just aft of the axel, also plywood and Fiberglas.
I am just about ready to build the cabinets, aft bed and settee on our 57 Caravanner then I can place the progressive dynamic converter and battery compartment, plumbing is all pex (LOVE it).
So far we have about $3500 into her....
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Old 03-09-2013, 01:02 PM   #17
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As someone who does this for a living, I find the numbers very interesting you are all throwing out there. The one major factor left out of all of those numbers however is your time. Your man hours have a dollar value too. Say you were to attach $25/ hour, $50/ hour(not even half the rate of the mothership) to your calculations. Where would "what you have in it" be now?
Say onto the hours that; you could not work on it in your driveway and you had to rent a space. Say the land lord required you to have insurance on the space, you had to pay for the electric, had to heat or cool it. Where would those numbers be now? Do those numbers include tools needed to do the job?
I am just curious about this. I get emails and phone calls everyday asking me how much. Sometimes people say, "I can do it so much cheaper. How can it cost so much?"
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Old 03-09-2013, 03:08 PM   #18
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As someone who does this for a living, I find the numbers very interesting you are all throwing out there. The one major factor left out of all of those numbers however is your time. Your man hours have a dollar value too. Say you were to attach $25/ hour, $50/ hour(not even half the rate of the mothership) to your calculations. Where would "what you have in it" be now? ... Sometimes people say, "I can do it so much cheaper. How can it cost so much?"
For the hobby rebuilder I don't see it working quite like that. The time I have spent rebuilding my '63 has not pulled time away from a payin' gig. $ spent = cost for the effort.

Another way of looking at it...going to a movie doesn't cost $108 ($8 for the ticket and 2 hours @ $50)

Having said all of that, I figure mine will cost $250 per month to rebuild in a 3 year period.
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Old 03-09-2013, 05:19 PM   #19
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I agree, time is money. If we were to pay someone to do what we've done we would expect to pay what Frank said. It would have been done ALOT faster too. People who are not "in the business", whatever that business is, always say they could do it cheaper. I work in a nursing home, and I'm always hearing how rich nursing homes are (haven't quite figured that one out yet). We haven't done our work necessarily to save money, but more because we WANTED to do it. We've always wanted to redo a trailer exactly the way we wanted it. Therefore we don't tend to factor in our time as part of the financial piece of the equation.
Having said that, I very much respect the people who can do these renos for a living. It's alot of work!

Kay
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Old 03-09-2013, 05:43 PM   #20
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I would add that working on the Airstream is therapeutic. If I paid a psychologist for the hours of therapy the trailers have provided...

It works for me.
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Old 03-09-2013, 05:59 PM   #21
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Seriously, a renovation is expensive, time consuming, frustrating, nerve racking, and for the most part worth it. I just finished my 1974 MGB and spent way too much, but I now have my car back in new condition and driving it everyday in northwest Ohio that it is nice enough too. It takes faith and desire. Good luck!
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Old 03-09-2013, 08:21 PM   #22
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I would add that working on the Airstream is therapeutic. If I paid a psychologist for the hours of therapy the trailers have provided...

It works for me.
It's definitely a labor of love for me and therapeutic as long as things are going well for me as I work on my trailer. Renovating a trailer on your own schedule, when you're motivated to work on it or just when time permits can be very satisfying.
I can't even imagine how many hours I've worked on my trailer not to mention all the time I spend laying awake at night thinking about my next step or researching info on the forums or even bugging Frank or Top for their expertise.
I really enjoy working on my trailer but always dream of having a pro design and renovate a trailer for me.
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Old 03-09-2013, 10:22 PM   #23
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Holland , Michigan
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This is what it cost me so far

1975_Tradewind_cost.pdf


1975 Tradewind cost.xls
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Old 03-11-2013, 02:36 AM   #24
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Originally Posted by 62overlander View Post
As someone who does this for a living, I find the numbers very interesting you are all throwing out there. The one major factor left out of all of those numbers however is your time. Your man hours have a dollar value too. Say you were to attach $25/ hour, $50/ hour(not even half the rate of the mothership) to your calculations. Where would "what you have in it" be now?
Say onto the hours that; you could not work on it in your driveway and you had to rent a space. Say the land lord required you to have insurance on the space, you had to pay for the electric, had to heat or cool it. Where would those numbers be now? Do those numbers include tools needed to do the job?
I am just curious about this. I get emails and phone calls everyday asking me how much. Sometimes people say, "I can do it so much cheaper. How can it cost so much?"
That's like calculating the time value of money while sitting on the toilet, or figuring loss of wages while on vacation...since it is not our chosen avocation, but rather a hobby for which we receive payment in the form of relaxation, challenge, mental stimuli, etc. The "labor cost" is irrelevant. Is nothing left sacred in this world that we don't have to assign a value to it?...now those kids I have, I'm thinkin I should evaluate how much they are costing me in time and money...is it too late to outsource?
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Old 03-11-2013, 05:03 AM   #25
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I don't agree with you. I think ones time has value in everything one does. It is one thing to say I have $12,000 in my trailer. It is another thing to say I have $12,000 and 1200 hours of my time. If you were to buy a house and renovate it then sell it you wouldn't say, "just give me $75,000 instead of $252,000... I did all the work myself" Would you? If that same house burnt the ground you wouldn't tell your insurance company, "hey I only have $75,000 for the purchase price and $25,000 in materials so just give me $100,000." The same is true of your trailer. Say it got wrecked. "Oh, JQ Insurance, I only have $8,500 in it" No, you would want the full amount you feel it worth.
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Old 03-11-2013, 07:25 AM   #26
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I fully admit that I'm biased here - I'm one of Frank's clients. There is value to my time, especially given that both my wife and I work full-time in fairly-demanding professional jobs.

Restoring a trailer means that I don't have time to do something else. Those weekends bucking rivets or polishing mean I'm not out camping. Or it means I'm not making dinner (paying for take-out) or not mowing the yard (paying someone to do that.)

There's also a cost to owning a house with a big enough driveway to house the trailer. There's a cost to having all of the tools needed for a restoration. There's a cost to run to Lowes or Fastenal several times for each little project. It adds up.

If you enjoy doing this, then there is payback on that value - it's a hobby that gives you satisfaction. I get little satisfaction from throwing tools across the driveway in frustration, so that's where I come down on that equation.

That said, I thought about buying a Tradewind that was a well-done restoration by a forum member. All they wanted was what they put into it materials-wise. Honestly, I thought that would have been a steal and almost karmically unfair...

Tom
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:13 AM   #27
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Did it

We bought Costalotta for $1500.. We have $35,000 in ours without labour but she is done the way we want it and we know what and how the repairs were done.. everything has been replaced..Airhead composting toilet.... Zipdee awnings all way round..new appliances.. 350 watt solar system with 2 Agm lifeline batteries.. stripped down and repainted.. (that was $3000 just for paint and labour to paint) all stripping and prepping done by hubby. All leaks fixed, led lighting.. custom upholstery ... drapes by me, axles, tires, wiring,plumbing, taps, you name it we have done it or replaced it or redesigned it. It works for us and we know we will never get what we have it her but we have what we want. She is ours and it was a labour of love. Hubby did keep track of the hours but it has been forgotten now, plus any frustration along the way. We know enjoy full timing and boondocking as much as possible. Lets all camp!
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Old 03-11-2013, 08:35 AM   #28
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Frank can restore or renovate a trailer faster, more effeiciently, more effectively, and much, MUCH nicer than I can. He's a professional, his work is beautiful, and I wish I could have my entire trailer renovated by him. There's zero doubt that Frank would be my only choice if I were hiring a professional.

The reality is that I can't afford to hire a professional, or at least I choose to use my time rather than my money to renovate my trailer. My time DOES have value, there's no doubt about that. But my plan always included purchasing a vintage "fixer" and renovating it myself. It's definitely a hobby, andf hobbies cost money. At the same time, I enjoy the challenge, I enjoy most of the work, and as my kids have gotten older they've been able to help me, and that time shared with my family working on the trailer is just priceless to me.

To answer the questions from the OP, I paid around $3500 for my trailer including the gas it took to drive ~1300 miles round trip to pick it up. It was completely campable at that time, and we used it for an entire season as-is. We could have continued using it as-is for many more years, the things that were wrong with it weren't going to result in catastrophic failure any time soon. But I knew when I bought it that it had floor rot and frame rot in several places, and that those would need to be repaired. So far I've renovated the back half, replaced the rear subfloor, replaced 3 frame rails and one outrigger, added a gray tank, re-plumbed with PEX, lost an awning, added a new one, and done some other various work. It still needs new axles and a front half renovation including replacing some subfloor at the front, possibly replacing some of the steel frame up there, building out new cabinetry and a new dinette, and some other random repairs/renovations.

So far I have around $8K into it, and have at least another $4K-$5K to go, so my final numbers will be $12K-$13K. Completely excluding the cost of my own labor, of course.

Compared to the price of a new Airstream that is minimal, and even compared to the price of a new SOB I'm doing pretty well, and have a trailer that should last another 50 years. What my grandchildren choose to do with it, will be up to them.
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