Many people dream of having a small teardrop trailer for occasional weekend adventures. But these trailers are not inexpensive despite having a tiny size. So, people with a limited budget are left with the only option of building one. A DIY teardrop trailer cost is almost half to one-third of a new unit’s price.
With a great variety of models, teardrop trailers are available between $5,000 and $16,000. The basic, low-end units come in between $5,000 and 10,000 while the mid-range may cost something from $10,000 to $15,000. For a custom-made or luxury teardrop, you have to spend at least $16,000 or more.
The basic units don’t have many features and amenities, but it’s possible to incorporate a handful of features in a DIY trailer at lower expenses.
- Is a Teardrop Trailer a Good Option for Camping?
- How Much Does It Cost to Build a Teardrop Trailer?
- A Breakdown of DIY Teardrop Trailer Cost
- The Total DIY Teardrop Trailer Cost
Is a Teardrop Trailer a Good Option for Camping?
Before committing your money and time to such a DIY project, it’s better to clear a few things about this unique RV-ing option.
If you like to travel solo or with a partner or friend and, this compact trailer is more than perfect. Most teardrop campers are big enough to accommodate two sleeping adults and a mini kitchen.
A lightweight structure is another characteristic that makes these trailers so popular. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a towing vehicle because a teardrop can be towed by almost any vehicle. You just need to purchase a hitch to connect it to your truck or car.
So, by building a teardrop, you can actually save a lot of money because buying a regular RV may require buying a compatible towing truck too.
Teardrop campers have started becoming popular again these days after falling out of public demand in the 1960s. With the growing acceptance for tiny homes and minimalist living, these campers seem to be more prevalent than ever in this modern era.
If you want to build one at your garage, how much DIY teardrop trailer cost can be? Get your answer in the following section.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Teardrop Trailer?
You can build a teardrop for surprisingly less than $1,000. But this frugal approach will yield a completely basic unit with a few basic features, lacking in terms of comfort and utility. Building a proper trailer that can be your mobile home for camping and other purposes will cost somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000.
Building a teardrop trailer will neither be easy. Making a decent, safe, and functional unit is a time-consuming affair. Even if you work for 8 to 12 hours a day, it may still take several weeks to finish the project.
Are you ready to commit to such a DIY project? If you are confident about keeping your patience until the task is finished, move to the next section to know the estimated cost to build a teardrop trailer.
A Breakdown of DIY Teardrop Trailer Cost
Making a decent teardrop trailer having all the essential features along with a few luxury add-ons will take around $3,000. Remember that lots of variables determine the final cost and you can lower it by sticking to only the necessities or increase it by adding some lavish features.
Let’s break down all steps and find out the total costs of building a 4×8 (regular size) teardrop trailer. There are several starter kits available on the market, containing all materials needed for assembling the trailer and an instruction guide. All you need is some tools for putting them together. You can purchase everything separately too for building the camper from scratch.
Let’s get down to DIY teardrop trailer cost:
The Chassis or Framework
Approximate cost: $500
The chassis is the framework or foundation on which to build the rest of the trailer. Several options are available and you can find a decent one between $300 and $500. if you want something slightly better, go for a Northern Tool or Harbor Freight chassis, priced at around $600.
It’s possible to lower the cost by a great margin by using a used frame. Craigslist and eBay are likely to have a good collection of used chassis. Many Facebook buy/sell groups may also come handy in this regard.
Unless it’s defective, a used chassis is not a bad option. Just make sure that it has the correct axle capacity, which determines the weight it can carry. The average weight of such a trailer could be between 500 and 3,200 pounds, but 1,000 pounds are ideal for the basic ones with all the necessities. Add to it the weight of the passengers and the stuff that you are going to carry with. The axle rating should be higher than that so it does not break down under the weight.
Approximate cost: $100
The frame is supposed to come with a metal or bare floor. But you need to add at least two layers of plywood to make it livable. The expenses will be nearly $100 for plywood layers, waterproof sealer, and the utensils such as bolts or adhesive for installing that floor.
Roof and Hatch
Approximate cost: $150
The common material used for making the trailer’s roof and hatch is sandwich plywood. In this regard, the total costs depend on the number and size of the plywood sheets. For a regular-sized trailer, around $150 is enough for the plywood sheets and the tools and other items for putting them together.
A Camper Door
Approximate cost: $900
Many of you might have been raising their eyebrows after seeing the figure. Around $1,000 for a single door! Isn’t it too expensive? What’s wrong with building one of your own?
Well, you can certainly make one upon having the required expertise. But it’s difficult to build a perfectly fitting camper door without prior experience. Of course, you can purchase a secondhand door from eBay or a Facebook buy/sell group at half of that price.
Approximate cost: $150
The galley plays an important role in determining the total DIY teardrop trailer cost. It can vary widely depending on how you want to equip this area. A fully-equipped galley with some luxurious appliances such as a cooler, stove, and sink will cost a lot. But you lower it down significantly by choosing only a countertop kitchen with some storage cabinets.
Purchasing a customized galley will increase the expenses. The only way to keep it down is to build your own.
A Hatch Fan
Approximate cost: $150
The door on the teardrop trailer has one or two windows to save on the expenses of vents or a costly ventilation system. But you still need to add a hatch fan to the tally of expenses.
A hatch fan makes sure that there is proper airflow inside the camper. You can choose from a variety of models and the cheapest ones are priced at around $150.
The Electric System
Approximate cost: $450
A teardrop camper might be smaller, but it still needs an electric system, and it counts a generous portion of the total DIY teardrop trailer cost. If you want to stick to the basic components, including wires, lights, a battery, a converter, power inlets, outlets, and a fuse box, be ready to spend something between $400 and $500.
With an electrical system in place, you may want to bring some electronics into the setup. A mini TV, a sound system, and an air conditioner sound nice, but these things will add to expense tally. Also, these are luxury items that are not necessary for living in a teardrop trailer. After all, you want it for exploring the outdoors not to get the comfort of a deluxe hotel room.
Making the Surfaces Waterproof
Approximate cost: $150
So, you have assembled your dream teardrop trailer, but the work is not done yet. You still need to make the surfaces waterproof to protect the interior from weather elements.
The simple solution is applying a few coats of paint. This painting finish will resist water and stay intact for a couple of months. For a more permanent solution, you can use fiberglass or aluminum.
As these materials are expensive, you can use Poor Man’s Fiberglass (PMF) for waterproofing the trailer. It involves applying outdoor painting on layers of a primer or adhesive and a canvas.
You can also mix these materials up to keep the cost within budget. For example, the trailer can have an aluminum or fiberglass roof and PMF sides. Remember that the cost will be more than $150 if you use aluminum or fiberglass.
The Total DIY Teardrop Trailer Cost
So, adding up all the expenses yields a total cost of $2,550. Of course, it will fluctuate depending on whether you have bought new or used items and added luxury items or not. An estimated budget of $3,000 seems to be a safe bet for finishing the project without any financial hiccup.