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Is An RV Renovation Project Right For You?

What You Should Know About Renovating An RV

Are you planning on renovating an RV? With social media full of renovated RVs, the trend is growing. Renovating a used RV is a great way to have a modern-looking RV without the steep price of buying a new one. While it can be a fun project, there are some things you should know about renovating an RV before you begin.

Up until very recently, RV interiors have remained mostly unchanged. The colors, cabinets, and fabrics feel very 90s and all look the same. RV manufacturers have finally gotten with the times, and models available in recent years have lighter, brighter interiors.

This is great for anyone who is buying a new RV; however, for those who already own a suitable RV or those looking to buy a used one, renovating is a great option. Not only can you modernize the interior, but you can also add personal touches.

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Before diving into renovating an RV, there are some things to consider. Here are five things you should know about renovating an RV.

RV interior renovated with farmhouse style - renovating an RV

Don’t renovate the wrong RV

RV renovations take time and money, so you want to make sure the RV you’re starting with is worth the investment. Before you start any renovation, take a good look at your RV and determine if it’s a good starting point.

No matter how much you love your old RV, if it has major problems, it’s likely better to move on and start with another more solid RV. Things like frame damage or serious rust are red flags, as well as mold or rot that has spread throughout large areas.

If you are buying an older RV to renovate, check the appliances for operation. If you have to replace a fridge, water heater, and furnace before the renovation even begins, your budget will be blown pretty quickly.

It may be a bigger job than you planned

Once you begin renovating an RV, you may discover things that were unexpected. Water damage is a prime example of an RV renovation that becomes a much bigger job than planned.

Once discovered, things such as water damage or mold starting in an area must be followed through on. You can’t simply cover it back up and move on. If you are through in your pre-renovation RV inspection, this shouldn’t be a problem.

When you start a renovation, you may be thinking about the fun stuff like paint colors and flooring choices. Unfortunately, things can become ugly really fast. Be prepared for some unexpected challenges and have a little extra in the budget for issues that could arise.

RVs are built quickly and cheaply

This is no secret, and regardless of make or model, RVs will have quality issues. When it comes time to renovate, this can present some interesting challenges. Unlike vehicles, RV manufacturing is done by hand and not automated. While this can have some benefits, people make mistakes, things get missed, and consistency is tougher to obtain.

Electrical is one place where we often see odd choices by manufacturers. Who has been here? A blue wire leaves the back of an appliance, and somewhere inside the wall, it changes color to green. Connections that come loose and wires with no slack are more electrical issues you may encounter.

But electrical isn’t the only place you will see the money and time-saving actions of manufacturers. Plumbing and cabinets have issues as well that may make putting something back together or replacing it more challenging than it should be.

One positive to renovating an RV is you have the opportunity to improve on some of these issues and make your RV better!

Make some fun design choices

It’s not all scary warnings here; after all, renovations are fun! Renovations in a home tend to be more conservative and safe. With your RV, it’s time to take some risks and maybe use some colors or accessories that you wouldn’t use in your home.

This is often seen in cottages, as they are a space that is not used all the time. Perhaps a bright green wall or leopard print wallpaper is too much for everyday living, but it’s perfect for your RV! RVs are small spaces, so it can be easy to overdo it. However, this is your time to personalize your RV and have something different than your neighbors.

Consider resale

When you are renovating an RV, putting your personal touches on the RV is part of the fun. Some of these things may be as simple as color choices, while others may be as significant as changing the floor plan.

If you are renovating an RV for the purpose of selling it, or if you think you will be selling your RV at some point, you should consider resale. Some of the things you might think are trendy or cool may not be welcomed by the masses.

When we renovated our RV, we took a family model RV with bunks and made major renovations to create a couple’s unit with an office. We knew this would limit our resale options to singles or couples looking for a dedicated workspace. If your plan is to keep your RV for the foreseeable future, go wild!

Before and after photo of RV bunks removed and transformed to an office - renovating an RV
The bunk to office transformation by Dashboard Drifters

Is Renovating an RV for you?

Renovating an RV can be a fun project that adds value to your RV and makes it more usable. It can also be a stressful job that uncovers issues you are forced to deal with that blow your budget.

Most RV renovations are completed by the owners, making them cost-effective. If you will be paying someone to do the renovation for you, you will have to weigh the cost of renovating versus upgrading. Taking on the renovation yourself is a great way to become more familiar with the ins and outs of RVs and how everything works.

With the used RV market as hot as it is, used RV prices are high and availability is low. That being said, considering renovating an RV you already own makes a lot of sense in today’s market.

Get tips from the RV LIFE Community

Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.

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1 thought on “Is An RV Renovation Project Right For You?”

  1. Nice article about RV renovations, however I would be concerned that many parks are not welcoming to older RV’s like 10 or more years old. I have a 2005 model and have been conscious of some parks that might not be welcoming to me in a few years.

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