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Old 09-10-2017, 01:32 AM   #1
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Looking For FULL renovation Recommendation

I have been researching this journey for over a year. I am looking to transition from corporate america and come from under the mortgage. I would like to hit the road teaching yoga and part-time consulting in my field. NEED SOMEONE TO DO RENOVATIONS

Now I UNDERSTAND Airstream renovations will not be "cheap" but I want to find a person running their own business instead of the mega shops here in Georgia who have quoted me upwards of $50k for a full reno. Admittedly, I do want an open floor plan with mostly new materials but, Im also willing to source some of the materials on my own and I even know a cabinet maker. I do not want to reuse anyone's couches, cushions, bed, toilets or even floors. The reason is, I am making a hard turn, no transition time just from the house straight to the Airstream so, I want it to feel new. I would like minimum 26' but I would go bigger. I like an open plan like the picture attached- NO DINING NOOK. I have found gutted out AS's on this site for about $4k-$7k.

If I start with "good ones" can someone recommend someone with a proven track record of doing the renovations working for themselves? I am willing to travel or ship it. And since I have time, I can leave it and they can take several months.
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Old 09-10-2017, 08:31 AM   #2
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Well you asked. I'm going to be very blunt.... only to save your money and sanity.

There are NO good & inexpensive renos. 3 out of 4 renovations that LOOK GOOD are done by incompetents or outright crooks.
There ARE owners with lnowledge, skills and dedication who can buy a $10K Airstream and put $12K into it with beautiful results, but they also have 5000 hours of skilled labor in it (reality check - $50K if calculated at only $10 per hour). Get a job at Timeless Trailers if you really must have an Airstream and want to know how to recognize the difference.

Paula - who has been there, done that...
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Old 09-10-2017, 08:48 AM   #3
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Hiring someone to renovate an Airstream may put you back I to a mortgage. Consider buying a newer used trailer and doing a minor refit, such as new fabrics.
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Old 09-10-2017, 09:07 AM   #4
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If someone quotes you less than $50k to do what you're asking, either that person has no idea what they're doing, or they're being deceptive.

Look at my renovation blog. I did what you're asking for myself. Open plan, no dining nook, all new stuff. Believe me when I say it cannot be professionally done for under $50k. The only way to keep the price that low is to do all the labor yourself.
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Old 09-10-2017, 09:15 AM   #5
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I have been around

I learned somethings as I rebuilt Airstreams...for my self....over the past dozen years. You will be WAY ahead if you go out and find an Airstream thats done. You won't be looking at three or four years of labor costs and frustrations. You will be money ahead too. Get one close to your desires and put the Finishing personal touches into it.
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Old 09-10-2017, 09:15 AM   #6
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Not to pile on, but I suspect each of your posted images exceed $50K. Buy new. It will be cheaper.
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Old 09-10-2017, 10:31 AM   #7
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My findings here on the left coast are that you would need to budget 100k to start and be prepared to get in line, for the wait time for a build could be up to 2 years or more. I fully agree that to buy one that is finished or just buy a new AS and take it apart. One more thought is you might want to take the time to visit some of the shops that do this work and my guess is that there are only a dozen really good ones in the country and talk to them. Find out if they have a customer that has given up or they know of one that might soon be on the market.
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Old 09-10-2017, 10:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melody Ranch View Post
Get one close to your desires and put the Finishing personal touches into it.
I completely agree. Buy the best one that you can afford that meets your needs/desires.

Good luck, Dan
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Old 09-10-2017, 11:03 AM   #9
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Time on your hands

I have a 1978 Ambassador AS. It has been months of work to get the trailer refurbished to my liking. Luckily I found people who were retired with the time to help me with my dream at reasonable prices. I did have a bad experience with a couple of businesses who overcharged. They were full of themselves and burnt out on working on Airstream.. Yes,It takes time, patience, and money. Along with someone who is as excited about your refurb as you are! Just saying.
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Old 09-10-2017, 11:30 AM   #10
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I've just finished a one year, shell-on rehab of our 31' Sovereign (1970). We are currently on our maiden voyage, and arrived the first day after 3 hours on the road with nothing wrong, out of place, broken, or mechanical failures. From a $4000 gutted shell that had been greatly abused, I am about $18,000 into it just for materials, and I still am not quite done, but it is roadworthy and comfortable. Just my labor, as others have said, at $10 per hour, would be another $18,000. Would I do anything differently? Yes, but not much. Tankless gas water heater instead of a 10G Suburban for the main thing. I built it so that any component or section can be removed and changed out easily. Am I an expert? Not by any stretch of the imagination. The only thing I farmed out that didn't require follow-up were the new axle assemblies. RV mechanics by nature have a lot of cowboy in them, and an RV mechanic is not necessarily a good choice to rehab an Airstream. For what it's worth, you can see the entire process at www.OldFartsInAnAirstream.com

Would I do another right now? Probably not. Is this one for sale? For the right price, everything is for sale.
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Old 09-10-2017, 01:20 PM   #11
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You can talk with Texas Vintage Trailers and get some feedback from them. Just a thought you could get your basics done in phase 1 then bring it back in a year for the final trim out.
Thomas
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Old 09-10-2017, 02:11 PM   #12
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Hi

In order to have enough of a track record to "be noticed" a shop will have to be fairly large. Not all Airstreatmers are on this forum or active at any one time. That alone will bias this against your basic search criteria (lone guy who does one every three years ...).

I can walk into a redone kitchen here in town that is "really well done and absolutely perfect" (for $10K). I can also walk into another one with a similar one with a $50K price tag. Guess which one is actually better done if you poke here and there? ... it's not the $10K quickie. Surprise, both the $10K and $50K guy are happy. Despite this, they very much did not get the same quality of work done.

One very easy way to see this is on new trailers. Many people are quite happy with the fit and finish on a new trailer. Others seem to spend their entire life picking apart various details. From what I've seen, the factory is pretty consistent in what they do or do not do.

Another variable is the actual design you decide on. Some of the differences between "cheap and easy" versus "nice but complicated" are fairly subtle others can be fairly obvious. Your willingness to compromise to reduce costs is a very real factor in this. It's no different than picking appliances for your kitchen in that regard. I can get a $200 range on sale at Lowes or I can go for the $18,000 Aga I've always dreamed of. On a trailer it's pretty easy to spend $20K on a full blown solar setup ....

While it's nice that people get $1,000 used trailers in perfect condition, that's not always the case. Many others pull apart their $10K used trailer and find a $10K surprise buried deep where it could not be seen. It's a bit of a gamble in that respect. Shopping for many years will improve your odds. It's still a gamble.

So, should you do this? It's entirely up to you !!! If you *can* budget for contingencies, then do so. Don't spend the money if you don't have to. Is a full custom rebuild better than a "same price" newer trailer? That's up to you. It's not an apples to apples comparison. The thing I think many of us are trying to point out is that this *can* be quite expensive. Many people get part way in and run out of money. That's a disaster. That's the thing to avoid if you can.

Bob
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Old 09-10-2017, 02:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirRoadBound View Post
I have been researching this journey for over a year. I am looking to transition from corporate america and come from under the mortgage. I would like to hit the road teaching yoga and part-time consulting in my field. NEED SOMEONE TO DO RENOVATIONS

Now I UNDERSTAND Airstream renovations will not be "cheap" but I want to find a person running their own business instead of the mega shops here in Georgia who have quoted me upwards of $50k for a full reno. Admittedly, I do want an open floor plan with mostly new materials but, Im also willing to source some of the materials on my own and I even know a cabinet maker. I do not want to reuse anyone's couches, cushions, bed, toilets or even floors. The reason is, I am making a hard turn, no transition time just from the house straight to the Airstream so, I want it to feel new. I would like minimum 26' but I would go bigger. I like an open plan like the picture attached- NO DINING NOOK. I have found gutted out AS's on this site for about $4k-$7k.

If I start with "good ones" can someone recommend someone with a proven track record of doing the renovations working for themselves? I am willing to travel or ship it. And since I have time, I can leave it and they can take several months.
Most of the posts seem discouraging. I would not discourage you. Contact P and S Trailer Service, Helena, OH. They have a website: www.pandstrailerservice.com. Talking with them will cost you nothing but your time. I bought an AS from them that they redid the exterior and an operation outside of Paducah redid the interior. I am satisfied that I got fair value for my money. They are a family business and have been in operation since 1968. They must do some things right for the business to be in the hands of the third generation.

I found them to be honest and fair.

David Parker
1993 Excella
1989 Dodge D-350
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Old 09-10-2017, 03:16 PM   #14
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Having recently been down that road, I'll share this:

During the hunt, I saw trailers that I was certain were out of our budget
In the end, buying a less expensive trailer plus renovating it was within 15% or so of the cost of the "out of budget" ones.

This is our first Airstream. I tend to learn a lot on the second go round, and I'm sure if there's a next one, it'll be done more economically. In hindsight, I should've bit the bullet and gotten the one we wanted and been done. We'd have been on the road a lot sooner and with less effort than the renovation route we took. Whichever way you go, remember there's only one way to get there--a lot of capital invested (whether that's money, or lots of time and work). In my world, money is easier to come by than time, but everyone's situation is different. Good luck, and if it seems too good to be true, walk away quickly and move on.

Dave
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