How Much Does It Cost To Build A Teardrop Camper?Anthony Day
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Teardrop campers are tiny campers you can build yourself. They have been common since the 1930s. How much does it cost to build a teardrop camper?
The price depends on a lot of things, including what materials you use, the current cost of materials, and whether or not you do all the work yourself. If you can do everything yourself, you can build a basic recreational vehicle for surprisingly little.
It costs as little as $1000 or $1200 to build a teardrop camper yourself. The price can be much higher than that, depending on what you add - two or three thousand is a better price estimate. Mine cost a little over $2000.
Many things go into building a teardrop camper. You need lumber, an exhaust fan, windows, doors, waterproofing, electrical work, and more.
I was able to build an above-average teardrop camper for $2100, you could build it for cheaper if you build something more basic. It takes some time and effort, but it is a fun do-it-yourself project. It is hard enough to be a challenge without being too time-consuming and expensive.
Why Are Teardrop Campers Worth It?
Teardrop campers are worth it because they are cheap compared to trailers and especially compared to motorhomes. You can also likely use whatever vehicle you already have to pull a teardrop camper. The light weight means they don't cost a fortune in gas money and don't wear out your vehicle as fast as trailers do.
How Long Will it Take?
It depends on your skills, how many hours you put into the project each week, and how ambitious your project is. A lot of the time, it can take six months to do it. You might only work on the camper on the weekends, and not every weekend, so it may take a long time.
If you and to add really a lot of features to your camper, it may take even more than six months. However, you can do it in less than six months if you put in enough hours and have already done reasonably similar projects. If you can spend a lot more than a couple of hours a day a couple of times a week, it may take a lot less than six months.
Why Are Teardrop Trailers Surprisingly Expensive to Buy?
Teardrop trailers are more expensive than you might think. They can easily cost five or ten thousand dollars, even for relatively cheap ones. Some cost $16000; many cost between $10,000 and $15,000.
Companies that build teardrop trailers are profitable, those that buy and then resell teardrop trailers also make a lot of money. This pushes the price way beyond what a kit to build a teardrop trailer costs.
How Much Does a Used Teardrop Camper Cost?
Used teardrop campers cost around $2000 to $6000. This is much cheaper than new, but still not nearly as cheap as the materials to build a camper yourself.
How Much Cheaper Are They to Build?
Thankfully, you can minimize the cost if you build a teardrop camper yourself. The cheapest way to do this is to order a kit online.
They will send you most or all of what you need to build the teardrop trailer. It also won't take nearly as long if you order a kit. The total cost can be well under $2000 and sometimes well under $1000.
Price estimates for how much a teardrop trailer costs to build are very rough. They depend on what materials you use, whether you do all/most/some of the work yourself, whether all the parts are new (as opposed to used doors or windows you fix up), and more.
What Does the Trailer Cost?
What Does the Floor Cost?
The floor costs about $75, some say $100 but I believe you can easily build it for less. You need a waterproof sealer, plywood, 2x4s, and bolts. This is not as expensive as many other parts of the trailer are.
What Does the Roof Cost?
The roof of a trailer costs about $135. Your roof needs to have a hatch, which adds to the cost and takes time to install. You might use higher-quality wood, such as cabinet plywood.
You might add extras to your camper around when you build the roof. Do you have room for a small working sink, and for drawers and cabinets? You don't want to make your small teardrop camper too cramped, but you might have some room for extras.
What Do the Windows and Doors Cost?
What Does the Electrical Work Cost?
It costs about $400 for electrical work even if you do it yourself. You need a battery, converter, and fuse box, plus wires, outlets, lights, a power inlet, and usually a few other small expenses.
The price goes up if you have to hire someone to do it. Make sure the battery is outside of your trailer as batteries give off fumes.
What Does the Exhaust Fan Cost?
An exhaust fan is relatively easy to install yourself. They are a bit expensive (about $130) but it is easier than the electrical work.
Waterproofing the trailer costs about another $100. There are also many other small expenses - you will need many nails and screws, bedding, paint, and more.
Use a Kit to Build a Teardrop Camper
It is easier to build a teardrop camper if you buy a kit. That saves you the work of having to choose all of your materials yourself. You do have more control over the final product if you buy materials separately, but it makes the project more difficult.
With a kit, you will get nearly everything you need, and everything will fit together. Using a kit can save you from costly mistakes. You won't always save money buying a kit.
Buy a Book With Step-By-Step Instructions
If you start without learning first, you can make a serious mistake and have to start over. The easiest way to learn is to buy a book that guides you through the entire project.
Matt Berger's The Handmade Teardrop Trailer guide is a great choice. One of the best things about building a teardrop trailer yourself is that you don't usually need any heavy equipment. Once you have the materials, common tools are enough to get the project done.
Do You Need a Truck to Pull a Teardrop Camper?
Thankfully, you don't need a truck to pull one of these small campers. The campers are streamlined, so they cut through the air easily, and they are very lightweight.
Even if your car is fairly small, you may be able to pull a teardrop camper. A lot of electric or hybrid cars are strong enough to pull teardrop campers.
How Much Do Teardrop Campers Weigh?
They weigh about a thousand pounds, or 1500 pounds if you add enough things to them. Some of them may weigh 3000 pounds (it might be a double-decker, or be larger than usual, or made of heavier materials) or possibly as little as 500 pounds. It can easily weigh 1000 pounds or less if you want it to be lightweight.
When Did Teardrop Campers Become Popular?
Teardrop trailers became popular in the 1930s and 1940s. They appeared because of increasing wealth and car ownership, plus improvements to the highway system. They were great for everything from honeymoons to family vacations.
Because the trailers were so light, it was easy for vehicles to pull them. Even though most cars had fairly weak engines in 1940, teardrop trailers were light enough. Sometimes, even a powerful motorcycle could pull a light trailer.