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Old 08-12-2014, 01:57 PM   #1
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Complete RV Rebuild?

As a 20y/o looking to move out after college I looked at some housing options and I didn't like what I saw. Apartments that allow pets are practically nonexistent in some areas. In other areas the rent is way too high. Real Estate ownership is way too expensive, complicated and risky not to mention PERMANENT. This got me thinking, why not RV? I don't plan on staying in one place for the next 5-10 years, I'd rather move around and find out where I want to be.

So I'm considering buying an RV that's 15-20 years old that has a good chassis, exterior and drivetrain (class A, 0-1 slides, 30'+) and stripping the interior . I plan to make the interior more livable like a "real" house, so I'm going to be replacing most or all of the RV appliances and furniture with household ones. a 32" shower and induction cooktop for example. The main reason I plan on rebuilding though, is that every floorplan i've looked at sucked for my purposes. There's never any open space, entertainment centers that are decent (not a 20" TV 8' away from a perpendicular sofa) or workspace of any kind. This makes sense in a smaller RV, but larger RVs have the same basic design, but with more beds! While I'm at the rebuild I'm also thinking about replacing all wear items, tires, fluids, roof etc, so that I'll have trouble-free use for the next 5-10 years I expect to live in it. I might even repaint the outside to give it a more modern look.

So I guess my question is twofold: Is this at all practical financially? I'm giving myself an estimated budget of $30,000, of which $10-15k will be for the RV itself. Second, is this feasible for me personally, I've never undertaken any project of even remotely this scale before, but I don't see any particular reason this won't work; it should just take a long time and a lot of effort.

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Old 08-12-2014, 03:21 PM   #2
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Dont rebuild...buy better first and focus on life instead of home repairs

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Old 08-12-2014, 03:55 PM   #3
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Look at a toyhauler trailer. The electric bed will go up when not in use and create a good place for a recliner. On craigslist you can get a nice one for $10,000
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Old 08-12-2014, 04:29 PM   #4
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i have did many RVs like you say

TT 5ver and now i am doing this one
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Old 08-12-2014, 04:43 PM   #5
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Your project is possible for 30K. Keep in mind you will never get your money out of upgrades and sweat equity when dealing with rolling stock.

If you plan on staying in one location for a few years at a time, might I suggest buying a trailer or 5th wheel. When you choose to relocate, simply pay someone to drag it to your next home. Simpler and cheaper than maintaining an engine/drivetrain that gets little use.
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Old 08-12-2014, 06:07 PM   #6
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Go for it. It would be a great learning experience.

I once bought an older home that was a fixer upper. The first project was the bathroom on a house built in 1950. I learned a LOT about bathrooms. More than I ever care to remember.

Long story short...I only bought brand new homes after that.
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Old 08-13-2014, 03:24 AM   #7
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Complete RV Rebuild?

Several concerns come to mind here: 1) where do you plan to stay in this RV? If it is a private residence that will let you plug in for free, and doesn't mind you doing work on it in their yard, great. If not even modest camp fees add up fast and a lot of campgrounds won't let you do on site repair work. 2) what part of the country do you live. Rv's especially older models are not well insulated, so keep in mind propane and utility costs. 3) do you have the equipment and ability to work on a large rig? Access to. A lot of systems, especially on a class A is tight. Could you do this on 30K? Possibly, if you are handy and pick the right Rv. If not than you can go through that budget in the blink of An eye. If you find one, get it professionally inspected before you buy. I have experience repairing and flipping classic cars. I bought the RV in my sig for 8k. Both myself and and Rv shop missed some major front end wear and a few other items. Fixing those and a road breakdown, I put another 5500 into it until I had enough and unloaded it for what I originally paid for it. Good luck.
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Old 08-13-2014, 08:27 AM   #8
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I'd cut off a digit to be 20 yrs old !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go for it !!!!!!!!!!!!
Doing it "One day at a time" !
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Old 08-13-2014, 08:31 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by kevin1959 View Post
I'd cut off a digit to be 20 yrs old !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go for it !!!!!!!!!!!!
Not sure I would live to thirty.....
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Old 08-13-2014, 08:43 AM   #10
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You have a great question...and as a youth I did exactly what you are proposing....EXCEPT...I never did get to do a tear out and rebuild. It became unimportant as my friends told me how sweet my RV was. I did learn that living in an RV and living in an apartment had huge gaps and learning curves. Winters for instance....

Next... Money.... I have not read that any one is directing you towards a tow behind or a 5th Wheel..... You get more bang for your money in a towed RV versus a motorhome. More space....bigger living area and different floor plans....PLUS.... if you plan on being a nomad....you get a second detachable vehicle that you can use at your leisure and it does not affect your dwelling space. I was a soldier at the time I owned my first RV....I had to be able to store it away from my barracks whenever my superiors wanted me to clear it from the parking lot. I had to have a Class A or smaller and I did dig it and appreciate it for the freedom on my time away from my job.
Cheaper life style....I do not think many of the full timers would say you get a super discount from living in an RV park or similar rental space but you certainly get a different outlook on life.
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Old 08-13-2014, 08:49 AM   #11
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Do the math carefully. If RV A costs $10k less than RV B, how much will it cost in parts and your labor to get unit A upgraded to compare to unit B? Does it make more sense to just buy unit B in the first place and move on? Remember that the book value of a given year/model is always decreasing. Putting $20k into it rarely means that its value will go up by $20k, so be prepared to get that amount back as usage value, not resale value. Sounds like fun, just estimate carefully and decide if you want to devote that many hours of your life to RV building.
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Old 08-13-2014, 09:00 AM   #12
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I think your idea is doable....but don't expect to get your money back or even that a potential buyer in the future will embrace your remodel.....But if that's not an issue, go for it. You'll learn a ton about RV remodels. Post lots of pics of your reno and ask any question about issues that stump you......Lots of knowledge in these threads.
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Old 08-13-2014, 10:24 AM   #13
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OK...so I will be the " devils advocate " here. 15k to spend on a used RV will get you an old, used up and tired unit. If you go the motorhome route the mechanical condition could eat up a good portion of the 15 k you have left. If you go with a towable then you need a decent vehicle to tow it. You are talking about " gutting " the interior, new appliances, new wiring, new plumbing, cabinets, furniture, etc. You have said you don't have the experience / skills yet, which means you will need to pay someone along the way.
Take your 30k and spend as much time as you need to find something you can live with that doesn't need a ton of work. Down the road a few years, it will still have some value to trade or sell vs. a home made, partially finished customised unit.
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Old 08-13-2014, 10:37 AM   #14
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Don't invest in a depreciating 'asset'. Real estate is a great investment, put your sweat equity there where you can get real $$$ returns and not lose money as you would in an RV. you can sell it easily when you need to if you buy right, good location, etc.

you'll make money in real estate, you'll lose it in an RV.

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