Thursday, April 16, 2015

Teardrops - Build vs. Buy

So you have reviewed your options and have decided you want a Teardrop trailer...Great! However, you are not done yet as you now have to decide do you build or do you buy? For some, the answer is easy, for others it's only the beginning of the process. Perhaps you don't have the necessary tools or skills to build so your decision is made for you. Perhaps you are a craftsman/woman and enjoy the challenge and feeling of accomplishment when completing such a project. For others, the decision process is much more challenging. Budgets must be considered, build time and facilities all play into the decision process. For us, we waffled back and forth over building vs. buying as there are advantages to both options. 

If you have the skills or even if you don't but want to learn, building can be an exciting option. There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of creating something from scratch and know that you made it and it fits your exact needs. Some of the benefits of building a trailer include:
  • Cost - Building your own trailer can be significantly cheaper than buying since you are only paying for supplies and not the labor. High end teardrops can be $10,000 to $20,000 or more. DIY trailers can be a fraction of that cost.
  • Togetherness - Many people that build often do this with friends or spouses. It can create a memorable experience for you and your co-builder(s). Of course, it could also lead to divorce I suppose. 
  • Satisfaction - It's your baby, your creation. Knowing you designed and built it with your own hands can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
  • Design - It's your design and only has what you wanted in it, no extras and no paying for things you don't want/need. It is exactly what you wanted, no more, no less.
  • Opportunity to learn - Every project presents opportunities to learn something new.
  • Ability to fix it if needed - Since you designed it, built it, you are best suited to fix something if maintenance and/or repairs are required.
Not everyone has the skills, tools or free workspace to tackle such a large build project. Even if one does have the skills, some may still opt to buy as there are some benefits when purchasing as well.
  • Time - Buying can get you out camping sooner. Depending on how much free time you have and how complex your design, it can take thousands of hours to build a teardrop trailer. Time that might be spent camping instead of building.
  • Fit/Finish of Trailer - Experienced teardrop builders have learned over the years the little nuances that might get overlooked by a 1st time builder. It might take 2 or 3 builds to fine tune a trailer to exactly what you want. 
  • Resale Value - Quality manufactured Teardrops tend to hold their resale value very well. This is not to say that home built units do not, only that top end trailers can sell for almost the cost when first sold. 
  • Warranty/Support - If there is an issue, it might be under warranty or at least easily supported by the manufacturer. 
For us, while we have the tools, we knew it would take several iterations to get to the fit/finish we desired in a teardrop. Furthermore we would rather get out and start camping sooner instead of taking a year full of weekends building a trailer. My wife and I still have a strong desire to build one and at some point, we may undertake a project but for now we just wanted to get some camping time in and so we are really happy with our Camp-Inn 560 trailer.   

Whatever your choice, there is a large community of teardroppers out there that will welcome you into the fold. It is a great way to meet new people and make new friends. They all share a common passion of camping and teardrop or tiny trailers. In a future post, I will share some of my favorite resources for teardrop campers and teardrop builders. There are a lot of websites, blogs and forums out there that provide a great place for teardroppers to gather and share experiences. In any case, fire up the saws or the checkbook, the important thing is to just get started.  Every day spent trying to decide is one less day you could be building or camping.

Do you have a story to share? Did you build or buy?  Leave a comment below. 

Until Next Time,
Jay T.