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Have you ever wanted to build your own campervan - for less than £1000?

Carlton Boyce / 15 June 2016 ( 09 July 2018 )

Ever dreamed of owning a campervan but can't quite afford it? We review a book that claims to help you build a campervan for less than £1000.

If you have big dreams but small pockets, building your own campervan could be a great project
If you have big dreams but small pockets, building your own campervan could be a great project

For many of us (semi-) retirement brings with it the dream of being able to travel more, and for a select few, that means buying a campervan.  

The appeal is obvious: the freedom to settle down for the night in whatever picturesque corner of the world you’ve stumbled upon that day, unencumbered by the need to book ahead, dress for dinner, or fulfill any one of the numerous social niceties you swore that you would abandon the day you donated your old work suits to charity.

Modern campervans aren’t cheap, though. A decent new Volkswagen conversion with room for two but no in-house toilet would cost you at least £40,000, and half-an-hour’s day-dreaming on the internet will quickly reveal that you could sell a very nice semi-detached house and invest the entire proceeds in a luxury motorhome without trying too hard.

Read our guide to hiring a motorhome

All for under a grand?

So a book that claims you can build your own dream campervan for less than £1,000 – including the price of the van itself! – should be just the sort of thing that a DIY-savvy Saga reader with big dreams but small pockets could be interested in.

And it is. While you’d have to be extraordinarily lucky to be able to do what they’ve done with a thousand pounds, the principle looks plausible enough: buy an old van and an old caravan and then put the contents of the latter into the former, refurbishing and repurposing as necessary. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

It probably is, too. The good thing about a project like this is that you haven’t got too much money invested in it, so if it all goes horribly wrong (and while there is no reason why it should, I can understand your fears that it might…) you are unlikely to be left too far out of pocket because you can always sell the bits on somewhere like eBay, recouping most of your modest outlay in the process.

Every decision is your own

If you've ever wanted to do up your own house from scratch after watching one of the ubiquitous property shows on daytime television, this might go some way towards scratching that itch - after all, they're called mobile homes for a reason!

You'd be able to plan it exactly to your specifications rather than working around a design that worked for someone else. And when people compliment you on it, you can feel rightfully proud of all your hard work.

Straightforward adventure

You’ll need the space to be able to store both the van-shell and the to-be-cannabalised caravan while you’re working on them, plus a half-decent toolkit, but the technical skills involved don’t look too daunting and anyway, half the fun of an adventure like this is beavering away to overcome niggling problems as they occur, isn’t it?

The book itself is inspirational. While many of the photographs are model-specific (understandably; it’s hard to argue that they could be anything but) the basic principles are straightforward and widely applicable no matter what model van or caravan you end up buying. 

The end result looks neat enough too and I imagine that the satisfaction of completing a venture like this would be huge.

So, is the book worth the £20 I paid? Yes, of course. I’m currently scouring eBay for cheap local caravans to see if I can make the figures work. (And since I bought the book, it's gone down to around £15 - so spend that extra fiver on a nice throw pillow as a final touch!).

It might stay a dream for a few years yet, but the important thing is that it’s sparked that dream.

Have you ever built your own campervan - or do you know anyone who has? Email us on and let us know!

Have you been on an amazing road trip that you would like to share with us? We're looking for fantastic journeys our readers have been on for a new feature in the magazine. Do email with details of where you went and when, and any great pictures, along with your recommendations for places that other road users can check out on the route.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.