Over the past 6 months, Ashley and I have built an amazing custom home on wheels. Our van is a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and we love it! In this post, I’ll break down the total cost of what it took to convert our van into a luxurious tiny home that has taken us all over the country.
There are three sections that Ashley broke down the costs into. First is the van, A.K.A. “Little Galena”. Second is all of the material within the van. Third is the cost of labor.
This was obviously the most expensive item that we paid for. Our Mercedes-Benz Sprinter cost $30,000. Keep in mind that we do not have a home beside our van to pay rent or a mortgage on.
The Materials & Labor
As I said, this is our only living space. We wanted our van to be high quality so we decided to not go cheap when decking it out. This helps the space feel more like home and less like a van.
Around one third of our material cost was for the solar panels, the batteries that hold the energy from the solar panels, and the rack on top of the van that holds the solar panels. Therefore, the energy portion of our material cost was a whopping $8,600. We researched and researched this cost and came to the conclusion that there was no way we were going to get a slick deal without sacrificing quality. In the end, we went with lithium batteries because, although they are more expensive, they allow you to use them all the way to zero without damaging the unit.
The next material item we invested in was our bed. Getting good sleep is vital to Ashley and me. That being said, we bought a Purple mattress; ours was $1,400 for a queen size.
We both are very hot sleepers. We knew that in order to keep the van cool, especially when traveling to warm locations, we would need some sort of van cooling system. The option we settled on was a swamp cooler which uses water to cool the van. It has saved us on hot nights, but just like everything else, the swamp cooler came with a price — $1,700.