The Costs of Converting an Overland Truck

I promised to give a roundup of the costs of converting The Beast, a Volvo N10 truck, into our new home. So here goes:

To follow our rationale and decision process in choosing a Volvo N10, please see The Birth of The Beast – How To Source & Spec. an Overland Truck.

Analysing the Overspend

With a large project like this, especially for novices like ourselves, it is always wise to budget a little extra. We budgeted a 10% contingency for the conversion (£4,918.70), although we did exceed our original budget by a whopping £19,191; nearly 40%!

The reason for this is outlined below:

  1. Tyres (+£6,624) – by far the largest unforseen expense. In February 2021, a year after we bought the truck, new UK legislation came into force. This requires tyres on the steering wheels of trucks and coaches to be fewer than 10 years old. While the 30-year-old tyres that came with the truck had plenty of tread, when we started to use the truck, the tyres started to crack up. Although the law applies only to the steering wheels, safety is not an issue to be trifled with, so we changed all the tyres. We expected them to be expensive, but not quite one third of what we paid for the truck! With care, however, they should not need replacing again for years.
  2. Wood (+£4,164) – the price of wood soared during lockdown, but we still woefully underestimated how much wood we would need to complete the conversion. We had thought a little bit of wood would come under ‘miscellaneous’!
  3. Foam, Fabric, Flooring & Blinds (+£2,338) – we forgot to budget for these minor interior details. Doh! Again we went for high quality, but this should pay off in the long run as it should wear well and last.
  4. Doors & Windows (+£1,866) – the overspend here was due to the high quality door and windows, and the fact that we installed more windows than we originally anticipated because we like light. We also added custom-made cowls above the windows to stop drips; an additional £700 unbudgeted cost.
  5. Labour (+£1,555) – our electrical installation was completely over specified. When our original electrician walked off the job, we decided to remove about one third of what he’d installed to simplify the setup. The welding costs also rose due to faffing about with the roll out steps to make them work.
  6. Tracker & Immobiliser (+£647)– although the truck already had two immobilisers fitted, a Thetford approved tracker and immobiliser were a condition of our insurance.
The roll-out steps took a bit of getting right

Savings

  1. Mate’s Rates – friends charged us a very reasonable daily rate for labour.
  2. No Markup on Materials – we sourced and purchased all materials ourselves. Although we paid retail prices, there was no margin added by a third party on materials, which represents a significant saving.
  3. Import Duty – we imported the truck from the EU before the end of the Brexit transition period. If we did so now, we would be liable to additional import taxes & VAT. HM Customs & Revenue did try to collect VAT because the truck’s mileage was less than 6,000 km. Thankfully, they eventually accepted that firstly, we’d paid the VAT in Holland and secondly, a truck manufactured in 1990 is not new!

Insurance

We’re insured with Adrian Flux, the only insurer we could find to cover a vehicle with an engine size in excess of 9 litres.

  1. Insurance to Bring the Truck Back to the UK – £590 – the dealer, Jacaranda, supplied Austrian trade plates which included a fortnight’s insurance. This enabled us to drive the truck back to the UK from Holland.
  2. Layover Insurance – £380 – while the truck was off road and being converted, we had layover insurance to cover theft or damage.
  3. Other Insurance – It also cost us around £260 to insure the truck for a week so that we could drive it to its first MOT
  4. Insurance to Drive – £700 pa fully comprehensive including 6 months abroad

Other Setup Costs

  1. Registration Fee – £55
  2. Recovery Equipment – £1,200 – ropes, shackles, sand ladders, chocks, bottle jack, axle stands etc. Mark gave these to me as my special Easter present!
The Fab Four think we did use rather a lot of wood. You can just see our expensive Austrian trade plates used as decoration on the LHS, though!

Running Costs

  1. Vehicle Excise Duty (Road Tax) – £165 pa
  2. Insurance – £700 pa fully comprehensive (as mentioned in ‘Insurance’ above.)
  3. Diesel – we have been getting an average of 8.5 mpg with mixed driving, which is better than we expected. This is our only major day-to-day expense. Before you judge us, please read Carbon Footprints & The Beast!
  4. LPG – We have Safefill refillable LPG cylinders for cooking and heating. During the summer and autumn, we have spent about £4 per month on LPG.
  5. Campsites – Close to £0. On two occasions, we have stopped on a campsite to top up the batteries when the solar hasn’t generated quite enough power.
  6. Pre-MOT Inspection & Work – £1,200: for the initial MOT required in order to get the truck registered, this included adding items like under-run bars, wiper blades, headlamps from LH drive to RH drive etc. The under run bars had to be fitted to pass the MOT, but we subsequently had to remove them to fit the steps.
  7. MOT – The vehicle is registered as a private LGV for road tax purposes. Now that it is converted, VOSA chose to MOT it as a motorhome.
    • First MOT – £113
    • Second MOT – £54
  8. Ferry / Eurotunnel Costs – When we imported the truck from Holland, it cost approximately £250 for the ferry crossing from Le Havre to Portsmouth. Eurotunnel viewed the truck as a commercial vehicle, the ferry viewed it as non-commercial.
We have found plenty of free park ups

List of Suppliers

  1. TruckJacaranda Trading, Netherlands. For a list of other truck and body suppliers as well as conversion companies, please see How To Source & Spec. an Overland Truck
  2. Interior BuildSurfcraft.co.uk
  3. insuranceAdrian Flux
  4. Pre MOT Checks
  5. Refillable LPG Cylinders Safefill
  6. WindowsKellett Windows, Halifax, UK
  7. BlindsSwell Shades – ordered online from Cornwall, UK
  8. DoorGap, Christchurch, Dorset, UK
  9. Upholstery
    • Seating Foam with Dacron WrapAnyfoam rapid online order of foam cut to size with Dacron/Polyfibre Wrap, from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, UK. (We used Luxury Reflex Firm with polyfibre wrap, seating 15cm thickness; backs 10cm thickness.)
    • Fabric – washable, hard-wearing Cristina Marrone ‘Accento’ chenille fabric ordered online. We had removable cushion covers made up for a few hundred pounds by a local seamstress based in Christchurch, Dorset, UK.
  10. Fridge FreezerVitrifrigo DP2600i Caravan/Camper 2 Way Compressor Fridge at £1,200, this was expensive, but is high quality and was the largest fridge/freezer we could find.
  11. Hob Thetford 9 Series
  12. Blown Air Space Heater & Water HeaterPropex
  13. Solar Panels & BatteriesBimble Solar

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Published by WorldWideWalkies

AD (After Dogs) - We retired early to tour Europe in a caravan with four dogs. "To boldly go where no van has gone before" - & believe me, we have! BC (Before Canines) - we had adventures on every continent other than Antarctica!

6 thoughts on “The Costs of Converting an Overland Truck

  1. I love the image on the seat (under the dogs) you have truly made a really beautiful and unique truck!! Thanks for the moment of living vicariously – as we won’t be home now until January it puts our build plans on hold but your blog has reinvigorated me to get into researching the parts and materials required. Have you thought of starting a YouTube channel??

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oooh good, we like invigorating plans!

    Lots of people ask if I have thought of starting a YouTube channel. I know it’s how people like to consume media and it is possible to earn from it, but having given up work, I don’t want our freedom and adventures to become like work!

    I am not too hot on the technology side of things – it took me 2 months to work out how to put a title on my blog! I enjoy writing, but it takes up quite a lot of time to blog regularly, write my books and keep my current travel diary up to date. I think planning video fottage and editing will be a step too far, if not for me, then for the rather photo-impatient Mr L!

    Someone also asked me at the Overland Show, have I ever changed my plans to get a particular shot, and I am pleased to answer, “No.”

    Our travels are powered entirely by our whims!

    Like

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