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Old 07-18-2014, 07:04 PM   #1
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Default Question about conversion costs

So for quite a while now I've been kicking around the idea of simply buying a class 8 tractor, converting a standard semi-trailer into an RV and just going about it that way. It seemed to me to be a cheap way to get it all done the way I wanted. Unfortunately, I read somewhere that the Feds won't let you drive a class 8 without a CDL, even if the length and weight are within your driver license maximums and it's only for personal use. So that idea's a bust, I guess.

After learning that, I found this forum and I'm curious to know how much a bare bones conversion would cost if I had it done by professionals (I'm not a mechanic or anything, lol). I'm talking frame stretch (and I'm assuming a new and longer driveshaft), building the box for the RV portion and fitting it out with basic things like beds and couches, basic kitchen, and a shower....and obviously all the tanks that go with all that stuff. If possible I'd like to be able to get a car in the back without towing it to save miles.

I'm not looking for an official quote or anything. I'm nowhere close to being able to start on something like this. I'm just looking for a reasonable estimate on what a basic conversion would cost so I have a vague idea of what the budget would have to be like. I've seen used tractors for $15K-20K and I'm hoping a conversion and fitting out would only add around $30K-40K, but I have no real idea so I figured I'd ask the people who have done it.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-19-2014, 12:16 AM   #2
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I had NRC in Middlebury convert my low mileage Freightliner (34000 miles)and there was no way I could get a truck like this for your kind of dollars. As far as the conversion costs at a dealer level it is going to be significantly more than your estimate.
Take a look on a site called RacingJunk, there are usually some good deals on what you are looking for. PS it is referred to as a "garage unit" as opposed to a motorhome.
Happy hunting and welcome to the forum.
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Old 07-19-2014, 12:27 AM   #3
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Depends on:
--Tractor you purchase, (you may be able to save a lot on the stretch here)
--Your infrastructure
....will you go all electric, propane, hydronic heating, etc
....how many windows and what type, (dual pane)
....insulation, (costs more than you may think)
....exterior finish (aluminum, frp?)
....slides, how many?
--your interior(will you use apartment size appliances or RV technology)
--which professionals you choose (huge variation here, will you sub out different jobs or turn it over to a company)

If you do the work yourself (or control it closely) you may be able to hit that target. The overall length will have a large effect on your costs and the garage will be a wild card.
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Old 07-19-2014, 03:08 PM   #4
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No matter what, you are going to pay way more to build one than buy one ready to go. WAY more. You're also going to likely pay a lot more for a garage coach than just pulling a car on a dolly or small car trailer. Plus, you won't have near the interior living space if you have a garage coach. There are a handful of dealers that specialize in Truck Conversions. Find one as close as you can to where you are and go check some out. Racingjunk is another great resource. You've got to navigate to the rv's truck conversion area.
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