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Old 04-16-2019, 07:07 PM   #1
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Estimating cost of renovation

Hello all!

Our family is planning on traveling across country in a few years and spouse wants to renovate an airstream. I love them and it would be awesome but I think she has aluminitis? (In all actuality I do too) and she is underestimating how much a proper Reno would be.

Iíve been reading a lot of the restoration threads stickyíd here and been searching the forums but have not found a comprehensive estimate or even a running total of cost someone has made.

Iím looking to compile this to get a real idea of cost which also would translate to work before I even think about buying one. I know these are very individual but having a list for any airstream would be super helpful. Iíve seen a few long-winded ones on YouTube but they were very general and lots of time included labor which is very location dependent.

Reading some Reno threads and looking at the time lines of them are eye opening and a reality check.

Thanks if anyone has a cost breakdown of their Reno.

Thanks!

- Mike
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:11 PM   #2
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I don't have a breakdown, but 14 years ago we completely did a shell off of a 1963 Bambi. I figured restoring everything (all the appliances still worked and were in great shape) ran us around $7,000 - 8,000. Did complete rewiring and plumbing, and made improvements to frame, and new floor. Again, 14 years ago prices. It all depends on what kind of renovation you need and the size of the Airstream.
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:19 PM   #3
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11 years ago I did my Tradewind. Had to replaced fridge, plumbing, axles, several windows,floor floor covering, cushions, curtains and on and on. Around $12K when I stopped counting. If you are doing all the work yourself figure on about 4 times the amount of time you initially think and about 3 times the money (depends a lot on the condition of the trailer when you start) and you will be pretty close to actuals. I don't want to discourage you from a project but it is much better to go into an Airstream restoration with realistic expectations so you won't get frustrated and not finish the project.
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:32 PM   #4
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Depends on too many unknowns, what condition the trailer you buy is in and what you call a renovation? To some that is painting the walls and hanging new drapes, to others its full blown rebuild of everything to miticulous standards, to others it could involve $25k in off the grid solar + lithium on top of the other stuff.
on average I'd say it's pretty easy to spend 10k + on materials alone for a basic redo.
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:41 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by 68 TWind View Post
I don't want to discourage you from a project but it is much better to go into an Airstream restoration with realistic expectations so you won't get frustrated and not finish the project.

Yes. Reading Reno threads is really all the reality check I need!
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:42 PM   #6
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Depends on too many unknowns, what condition the trailer you buy is in and what you call a renovation? To some that is painting the walls and hanging new drapes, to others its full blown rebuild of everything to miticulous standards, to others it could involve $25k in off the grid solar + lithium on top of the other stuff.

on average I'd say it's pretty easy to spend 10k + on materials alone for a basic redo.

I agree. This is why I think a nice breakdown would be handy for me to estimate. Maybe I just love spreadsheets.

Frame:
New axles x brand (double) - 1k
Por 15 y gals -
Etc

Specialty tools
Rivets x cnt alum. - x dollars
Riveter - x dollars
Etc


Then based on your trailer you could estimate some costs to some extent. Axles good? Donít have to include that in my estimate. Etc.

I just figured someoneís tracked this before on their project.
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:52 PM   #7
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cost quotes

I redid a 67 trade wind couple years ago for a nice person. not a shell off, but close to it. Stopped at $37000....gave the customer the last 260 hrs for free
because I had gone over the top end of estimate. Or you can just paint and slap a
coat of finish on the old cabinets and say it's done. We kept the old stove/oven and replaced all other items. Patched subfloor, new finish floor, new tires, rims, cabinets, electrical, plumbing fixtures, fans, sinks, counters, fridge, instant hot, interior wall paint, new screens, composting toilet,window gaskets, delivered. Good luck.
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:58 PM   #8
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Easy way to estimate the cost of a renovation would be to take the current retail cost of a current year model in the same length or close and double it. That would get you close
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Old 04-16-2019, 08:00 PM   #9
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I have read more threads where people said they stoped adding it up after a certain point, I fall into that group. I have a pile of receipts but really don't know the total, I know it did go past 10k and lots and lots of unpaid man hours. I still have things I want to do but will get some camping in first.
your on the right track though.
Axles
tires
brakes
stove
refer
ac unit
furnace
plumbing
electrical
sinks
plumbing fixtures
cabinets
Light fixtures
polishing
drapes
Mattress
awning
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Old 04-16-2019, 08:12 PM   #10
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Hi and welcome to Airstream Forums. You have a common question. I have renovated a 66 Trade Wind 24' see photo, and in the final stages of a 75 Overlander 27', see photo. Vintage Airstreams are fun to work on and travel in.

Here is a rough "bill of materials" for the renovations I have done:

new axles with bearings and brakes are about $800 each or 1600
new tires (4) are about $150 ea or 600
new waste water tanks are $250 each or about $700 shipped
mobile welder is 100 an hour, or about $500 for me
new water pump is 250
new toilet is 250
new faucets bath, shower and kitchen is $400
new PEX plumbing with fittings is about $250
new waste water plumbing and fittings is about $150
new water heater is $600
new fridge is $1300
new furnace is $700
new 12 volt converter is $250
new 12v battery is $150
new fuse panel $50
new 120v power panel with breakers $200
new 120v shore power plug in $100
new under floor foam insulation is $150
new floor coverings is about $700
new LED lights bulbs everywhere $300
new air conditioner is $1000
new foam mattresses is $300
new gaucho foam is $200
new fabric coverings for mattress and gaucho covers $400
new miscellaneous hardware items $1000

I booked about $13000 for the Trade Wind and I've booked about $10,000 for the Overlander so far for the materials I've purchased. I estimated I have about 1200 man hours each in both trailers. That is about 6 months working full time.

You should search the Airstream Forums Classifieds. You will see prices for beautifully renovated trailers in the $60k range, and you will see project trailers in the $5000 range. A new Airstream starts in the $65k range and goes up quickly from there. They ain't cheap. They last a long time.

Hope my experiences can help guide you in your decisions.

David
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Link to my 1975 Overlander Improvement Journal:
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Link to our 1976 Renovation Project:
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f221...ct-202081.html
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Old 04-16-2019, 08:19 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
Hi and welcome to Airstream Forums. You have a common question. I have renovated a 66 Trade Wind 24' see photo, and in the final stages of a 75 Overlander 27', see photo. Vintage Airstreams are fun to work on and travel in.



Here is a rough "bill of materials" for the renovations I have done:



axles with bearings and brakes are about $800 each or 1600

4 tires are about $150 ea or 600

new waste water tanks are $250 each or about $700 shipped

mobile welder is 100 an hour, or about $500 for me

new water pump is 250

new toilet is 250

new faucets bath, shower and kitchen is $400

new PEX plumbing with fittings is about $250

new waste water plumbing and fittings is about $150

new water heater is $600

new fridge is $1300

new furnace is $700

new 12 volt converter is $250

new 12v battery is $150

new fuse panel $50

new 120v power panel with breakers $200

new 120v shore power plug in $100

new under floor foam insulation is $150

new floor coverings is about $700

new LED lights bulbs everywhere $300

new air conditioner is $1000

new foam mattresses is $300

new gaucho foam is $200

new fabric coverings for mattress and gaucho covers $400

new miscellaneous hardware items $1000



I booked about $13000 for the Trade Wind and I've booked about $10,000 for the Overlander so far for the materials I've purchased. I estimated I have about 1200 man hours each in both trailers. That is about 6 months working full time.



You should search the Airstream Forums Classifieds. You will see prices for beautifully renovated trailers in the $60k range, and you will see project trailers in the $5000 range. A new Airstream starts in the $65k range and goes up quickly from there. They ain't cheap.



Hope my experiences can help guide you in your decisions.



David


Thanks David! That is an awesome list to start from and gives me a good reference. I feel like I already know you from how many replies Iíve seen you post on the various rebuild threads! Haha

- Mike
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Old 04-16-2019, 08:44 PM   #12
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Old 04-17-2019, 06:41 AM   #13
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If I had to start all over again...I would try to find an AS that has had all the dirty work done, and the owner has give up on the project for one reason or another. Especially if you want to use the trailer sooner rather than later...
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Old 04-17-2019, 06:45 AM   #14
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If I had to start all over again...I would try to find an AS that has had all the dirty work done, and the owner has give up on the project for one reason or another. Especially if you want to use the trailer sooner rather than later...


The dirty work being ripping everything out and the frame shored up?
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Old 04-17-2019, 08:34 AM   #15
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We spent around $30,000 on our reno including all new interior (only original items inside are the kitchen sink, a couple of outlet covers, and the old oven timer), new axles, new subfloor, all new plumbing and wiring, new cabinets hubby built. We did a few higher end items like click lock cork floor. We did all our own work.
A lot depends on the original interior items and if anything works, or not.
Could we have done it for less? Yes.
Are we happy with our reno? Absolutely.
Was it worth it? YES!!!
It's good to go into it with eyes wide open.
A good used trailer with less to do is a good idea also, depending on time and money. You won't really save money on a reno vs. used trailer, probably. You will save money on used vs new.

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Old 04-17-2019, 09:54 AM   #16
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The big ticket items are plumbing, electrical and appliances. If you add in solar you could go a few thousand to 10K+, somewhat dependent on labor costs. The figures given above should help.

My worst estimate was time.

I would suggest determining how long your willing wait to be on the road, which may determine what shape the trailer is in that you buy. If your goal is to be on the road in 2-3 years, don't buy a full shell off project. Check here on the forum for local sources willing to do inspections. Another set of eyes, who doesn't have your drive to get started, could save you months and dollars.

I'm making some assumptions here. You are not retired, yet. You have access to the space required to work in. If you have the skills for the topics you want to do yourself, great. If not, it will add to the timeline just to acquire the knowledge, let alone the pace you'll accomplish these things (spent a lot of hours on this forum and reading other sources). My weakness has always been electrical and I was determined to get comfortable with the assembly, use and trouble shooting.

Another suggestion would be to meet with/join your local WBCCI group and find the tinkerers that did what you want to do. Great source of info, and probably find some volunteers that can give you a few hours at critical times.

Hope you find the perfect trailer and enjoy the project as much as you'll enjoy the end product.
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Old 04-17-2019, 02:07 PM   #17
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How to ESTIMATE THE COST & TIME NEEDED for the "Renovation" of an Airstream Trailer:


Make your Best Renovation Cost Estimate (Money Needed) for the renovation of your trailer and DOUBLE it!

Make your Best Time Estimate needed for renovation of your trailer and TRIPLE it.

After all this estimating you "Might" be close however I doubt it!

Therefore DOUBLE AGAIN both numbers you calculated above to obtain your "BEST REAL COST AND REAL TIME NEEDED" estimate for the renovation of your trailer!


NOW you know why there are so many Unfinished and Unsold Airstream "Renovation" projects for sale all around the USA!
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Old 04-17-2019, 02:10 PM   #18
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Estimating cost of renovation

Another example is the engineering project ď90-90Ē rule.

The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time and money budgeted.

The last 10% of that project takes another 90% of the time and money budgeted.

The sad part is that no matter how careful you are to realistically budget a project, the rule still applies.
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Old 04-17-2019, 05:45 PM   #19
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Try this couples utube video.



I plan on selling both my argosy 24 foot motor home and airstream trailer. Itís going to be to much to achieve my dream.

Dreams are best dreamed and not achieved.
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:19 PM   #20
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I find the above very interesting and most similar to continuously upgrading a trailer you bought new. Because Airstream stopped building the 34' slide out I decided to do that, so from just about day one I have and am still at it. Have really enjoyed the project and the resultant extra convince of being able to stop anywhere and camp for the night is really worth it. We rarely ever use hook ups. Just water and grey water dump. I can't afford to sell my 34' now, I have too much time and money in it. I guess we will leave it for the kids. I wish some family member had left me one like it, but most of the add ons were not invented back then. Oh well, I will enjoy it as long as I can.
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