What is a weekender?
"Keep It Simple"
Because everyone doesn't have $70,000 to put into a van....A functional simple build that gives you 90% of the features of more expensive builds, modular in function, and over all build costs significantly lower. Weekenders generally don't typically have hot water, huge inverters, or custom cabinets. These items easily can add on another 10-20k or more into a build. This is the main difference between weekenders and full builds. Typical weekender build is between 15-30k depending on type of van we start with, trim level, and options and can be done in 2-3 weeks.
Seating: We recommend buying a van with factory seating. This can save thousands of dollars as well as providing factory tested safety. Seating can be added but figure that cost can easily exceed $5000. Modifications of floor, welding, and other details are very costly. Starting with a Crew van or Passenger trim may help costs, but there are some issues that have to be considered when doing this.
Electrical: If you are going to run a fan, charge your phone, or want interior lights, and want to avoid a dead battery, you need to have some type of isolated auxiliary battery. This can be charged by your alternator and/or solar, depending on your needs. Adding a fridge and a fan is a game changer in comfort. A simple pure sine wave inverter can recharge small electronics. If you are going to run a microwave, coffee maker, or blender this can ad very signficant costs.
Insulation and Sound Deadening: Vans are hot, noisy, and cold. You want to make your van comfortable. This is also a neglected part of a build and the least glamorous, but it can make a huge difference. We only use superior automotive specific products – no denim, no spray foam, or asphalt-based sound dampening products.
Wall Panels: At Cardiff Campervan, we keep walls simple and reasonably priced by using economical and durable material that is mold, mildew, and stain resistant. Want to save $ buy a van with walls. Most of the time we are able to work with existing factory walls, why spend the money to change them unless its a cosmetic reason?
Bed: Adding a bed is simple. There is a reason you purchased a van, and likely you are planning to sleep in it. Each design has compromises; we find the platform beds are economical and provide massive storage space below for your gear.
Fan: Installing a fan will cool your van down significantly. You do, however, need to consider a vented window; otherwise you will have no air to exchange.
Windows: Adding vented windows to let cool air in and hot air out is much more effective than opening a factory window and using a magnetic bug screen.
LED Lighting: Low-wattage lighting is nice, uses very little power, and allows you to light up the interior of your van at night.
Storage: Don't have $10,000 for custom cabinets? Plastic storage bins under a platform bed, Semi Rigid Soft Bags for removable upper storage, and/or slide out drawer system like a Decked Drawer is a great way to have storage and all are removable.
Fridge: A simple, super-efficient 12-volt cooler hooked up to a battery makes a big difference. In the long run its cheaper and more environmentally friendly than ice chests.
Solar: Solar isn’t needed if you plan on driving your van somewhat frequently on trips. A 225AH aux battery can power a fridge, fan, and lights easily for at least a few days.
Bathroom: A porta potty or cassette toilet works well, is inexpensive, and for a basic build, is the way to go.
Inverter: This is something that is a “want” more than a “must” in a basic build. It can be expensive to add as it may require different battery location as well as you have to consider where you will put it and the large wirign that needs to go to the inverter. This is for 110v power. (house hold plug)
Heat: Heat is expensive and generally not needed for three-season camping. However, heat is a crucial factor in cold conditions. We ad heaters in diesel vans only with fuel pick ups.
Table: A great solution is our Lagun table with front swivel Seats, this allows seating with a table without reconfiguring your van and moving stuff around.
Cooking/faucet: We offer simple kitchenette solutions that are well under $2000, or use a coleman stove. Our ultra compact sinks are under $1600 and perfect for DIY installs.
How about a "kit"?
Kits are great solutions for a DIYer or when you have no interior. However our focus is not to spend your money and if you have a stock interior we will work with what you have usually cutting overall build costs by 50% or more compared to using a kit if you start with the right trim level in a van. For example, starting with a Sprinter Crew van vs a kit we can work with your interior that you already purchased with your van and do similar functionality as the kit for 1/2 the cost and you have seating and flooring that you don't have to buy. Its custom and done better. Take that savings and add a battery, solar, heat, vented windows, windows, tires, awning...you get the idea. This is all about our philosophy of giving the right advice and not taking advantage of our customers lack of experience in building a van.