Hi, I’m Michelle, and once upon a time my husband and I decided we wanted to live in an Airstream and see America together. In order to make that happen we sold our house and almost everything in it and have been traveling full time for several months now.
Before we hit the road for our grand adventure we renovated our trailer from top to bottom to make it our own perfect home on wheels. The renovation process was great but traveling it even better! You can read more about our adventures on our blog – www.luxelandyacht.com
The Pros and Cons of Renovating Your Own RV
A few years ago my husband and I fell in love with Airstreams! We knew we wanted a cozy, functional and beautiful Airstream to travel and live in full time. However, the price tag for a beautiful Airstream was too high for us! We knew we could have a beautiful Airstream that was completely custom to us if we bought a used one and renovated it ourselves.
Renovating our dream RV was a great experience and I’m so glad we did but, the process of renovating your own RV is not always a painless and wonderful experience. Here are the pros and cons based on our renovation experience-
1. Your RV will be totally custom to you if you do it yourself.
We got to design our layout, pick the fabric for the curtains and furniture, paint colors, lighting, where the TV went, how big our bed was, and what kind of fixtures we wanted. We maximized our counter space in the kitchen and chose what type of flooring we wanted. We planned out how much storage we needed and placed it where we wanted it (for example under the bed and couch). You don’t have to have anything you don’t want!
2. We got to pay as we renovated. Instead of paying a big sum up front we paid for supplies as the money became available.
3. We saved so much money on labor. We bought our materials and installed everything ourselves (including our axles and wheels!).
4. We know our RV inside and out. Anytime something goes wrong we have a good idea what the problem is and can fix it. There’s no mystery to what the water tanks look like under our floor, how the electrical or pipes look hidden in the walls. Since we installed it, we know how everything works and where it is.
5. If you want something custom in your RV you can have it! We wanted recessed lighting and got beautiful LED lights that we installed in our ceiling. We love how bright and pretty the lighting in our Airstream is.
6. We got to use whatever materials we wanted.
For our counter tops we found the perfect wooden table tops. They were old tables from a restaurant that got rid of them so, we were able to reuse perfectly beautiful wood that might have gone in the trash if we hadn’t used them and it gave us a one of a kind look.
7. We stretched our brains and abilities every time we worked on our Airstream. I think we are smarter and better because of this process we went through.
8. Anytime we want to change something or make an improvement to our Airstream we are completely comfortable doing so. The longer we are on the road the more ideas we get to make our Airstream more comfortable. Since we’ve already done the renovating and know all about our Airstream we are comfortable changing things up.
9. We have so much pride in our Airstream! We love knowing that we renovated this little house on wheels and love to show it off.
1. When we got to work on our Airstream we didn’t know what we’d find. We ran into lots of water damage in our sub floor and had to remove all of the old plywood flooring and replace every last bit of it.
2. We couldn’t buy our supplies as cheaply as the pros can get them. However, we were able to pick out some higher quality fixtures that the manufacturer wouldn’t have included.
3. We had to have lots of tools! We depended on our table saw, rivet gun and impact wrench throughout the whole renovation. Tools are an added expense but we were able to resell them on Craig’s List after we were done with them. (We kept the rivet gun in case we need it on the road! Airstreams have lots of rivets!).
4. We had to get creative and stretch our brains further than we anticipated at times. For example our end caps originally had huge plastic pieces perfectly molded to the front and back of the trailer. They were getting cracked and didn’t look too good. We also had to take them down during the renovation to get to the wiring and other things behind them. When we took them down they didn’t fare well and we threw them away. We needed to come up with a new end cap that we could afford and do ourselves. It wasn’t easy but we ended up making new end caps out of wood and painting them silver.
5. The process is tiring!
We had to force ourselves to work even when we were tired and didn’t want to. In the end I’m so glad we got it all done and did a quality job! Having a schedule and trying to stick to is hard but a great way to stay on top of the project.
6. There’s a lot of research involved! There are so many great online resources. We depended on Airforums throughout the renovation. It’s best to research and from other people’s successes and failures. We followed other Airstream renovators experiences on how to polish the exterior. We would have wasted a lot of time if we had tried to start from scratch and figure out how to polish the Airstream by ourselves. If someone else has already figured out how to do something successfully then use that information to your advantage!
No matter what kind of RV you prefer, you can do all or parts of a renovation yourself to save money and turn an RV that’s ok into one that perfectly custom to you and your needs/desires!
Have you ever thought about renovating an RV? Have you renovated an RV yourself?
The process may seem daunting at times but with enough research and preparation you too can have a successful renovation.