When purchasing an RV, there are plenty of practical considerations. You need to make sure the engine is in good working order, that all the plumbing functions well and that it’ll all hold up in the future. Sometimes the actual living area of your vehicle can seem like a distant afterthought.
For RV enthusiasts on a budget, it’s important to know how you can save time and money when it comes to fully outfit your rig. One important strategy you should know about is purchasing used furniture for your RV. Doing so can save you significant amounts of money while still providing you with an enjoyable and functional living space.
When it comes to making these purchases, there are lots of strategies you should employ in order to make sure you’re getting good value for your dollar. Let’s look at some of the ways you can make the most out of your budget and your space when it comes to outfitting your RV.
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Used RV Furniture Budgeting
There are plenty of reasons people chose to go with used furniture over new items: used items can be unique, the desired item might not be produced anymore, or the owner might have a specific vision that requires customization. Above all of these, though, the most popular reason for going used is that drivers want to make changes to their interior without breaking the bank.
Throughout this article, we’ll identify lots of ways that picking up a used item can save you money, but keep in mind that there are some ways in which the used item might end up costing you more. If you don’t keep on top of costs like shipping, installation, and ancillary parts, you could easily find yourself accidentally shelling out more than you intended.
To mitigate this problem, be sure to keep detailed track of all the expenditures you make when purchasing your used item. Have a number in mind from the start of what you’d like to spend in total. With each decision along the way, be sure to consider whether you’re still interested in following through with this project.
If you know from the beginning that you don’t want to purchase a new item, then your only option, obviously, will be a used one. But if your main concern is the money that you’ll save by going with a used one (but you’d otherwise be comfortable with a new product), then make sure you’re spending goals come in lower than they would with a new item. That’s right, just because you’re going used doesn’t mean you’re excused from pricing out new items you might pick up instead!
That being said, one of the great parts about taking this route is that you’ll have far more opportunities to save yourself money with a used item than with a new one. By putting in some of your own elbow-grease when it comes to designing, installing, and tearing down inside your RV, it’s easy to make sure you come out ahead.
Survey the space
When you’ve settled on an RV that you like, make sure to take time to plan out any big changes you might want to make to the living area. Take a look at all the furnishings and decide which will remain and which ones aren’t for you.
When it comes to items you’d like to get rid of, be sure to consult with the dealer/previous owner about the steps that will be required to remove any items. It’s not always obvious just by looking what kind of links exist between all the items in your RV. Removing a bed or shelf might require working around wiring setups or rerouting the plumbing. Be sure you know what you’re getting into before starting any project like this.
Once you’ve got a plan for what you’d like to change or replace, make sure to take detailed measurements of all the areas where new items will go. In the tight economy of your RV, just a quarter of an inch can make the difference between an item fitting perfectly and getting stuck in the door.
Find your new furniture
There has never been a better time to be a shopper for used RV furniture. The internet makes it easy to connect with a wide network of sellers and buyers offering all sorts of goods at a discount. But with so much information easily available, it’s important to be sure you know whom you’re dealing with in order to avoid any sticky situations. Here are a few places you can look to find quality goods.
eBay: No surprise – the magical website that has just about everything on it also has access to used RV furniture. Simple searches for the items you’re looking for should yield plenty of options. If nothing is available at the moment, you can always set an alert for when things pop up in the future.
Like many of the sites we’ll look at here, eBay is filled with users who sell their own items. That means your experience will vary widely depending on the specific person you’re buying from. Before you engage too closely with anyone, be sure to check out their profile and look at feedback other users have left in the past.
You want to engage with users who have a history of positive feedback from those they’ve done business with in the past. It’s also a good idea to contact the user you’re buying from before completing your purchase. Make sure they can give you detailed technical information about the furniture you’re looking to publish, and make a plan for getting whole in case the product does not fit in where you want it to go.
Local RV Dealers: The same place where you may have purchased your RV can be an excellent resource for finding all the bells and whistles to make it perfect. Keep in mind that you’re dealing with a business who has their own interests – they could be incentivized to push you towards buying new parts from their own suppliers.
That being said, if you feel comfortable enough with the people at your dealership, there is nothing wrong with asking them for advice on your search. You may find that the dealership itself has used parts in stock which they’d like to move, or they may know people in the area who have such items.
The final thing you might want to bring up with dealers is what they might do with any old complete RV’s. These can be gold mines if you’re looking to find a specific part or piece of furniture. In the right situation, the dealer might see it as a favor for you to help do some of the scrapping they’ll have to pay for anyway.
Craigslist and Social Media: You’ll find generally that the majority of used items are available for sale only directly from their previous owners. One great way to connect with folks who have items to sell is through social media. Reach out to friends and fellow RV owners to see what they aren’t using or would like to move.
Craigslist.com is an excellent website where people can list all kinds of items for sale. It’s almost like a big personals section for the whole internet. If someone out there is looking to move the part you need, they’re likely to list it on here at some point.
One issue with Craigslist is that posts are often made anonymously, so it can be difficult to know exactly who you’re doing business with before you start. Make sure to ask lots of questions, and don’t be afraid to ask to see the items before making payment. If you notice any odd behavior from the person you’re dealing with, it could be a scam. Never make a payment or give out payment information on this site before you’ve finalized the deal.
Rvpartsnation.com: This site has a variety of RV furniture and other parts available. While they do most of their business in new parts, this can be a good place to find used options when they are available.
The advantage of working with a business like this one, who traffics in these parts professionally, is that you don’t need to take the extra step of vetting the seller before making your purchase. That being said, you’re usually going to find lower prices when buying directly from an individual, at least when it comes to specific items.
Discountvantruck.com: Another good online retailer option. Again, you’ll find that most of their catalog is new, but they do make used parts available from time to time. Check back often to see changes in their stock and find what you’re looking for.
Making your purchase
Once you’ve identified the seller you’d like to work with, there are several pieces you should consider before landing on any specific part. You want to make sure you’re building the RV that you want, while sticking with the kind of consistent design choices that will make the whole thing feel wholistic. Just because you’re going with used parts does not mean you have to end up with an interior that feels slapped together.
I find that this process works best if the driver first takes time to consider what exactly you want to create. Check out some photos or videos of completed projects to get a sense of what you do and don’t like. Sit down and think about the activities you’d like to do in your RV and how to best use your space to achieve them. Maybe you want to maximize efficiency, maybe you want to create comfortable areas for family time, or maybe you want to create the glamorous interior of your dreams. Wherever you want to end up, you’ll need to make the right choices to get you there with each step along the way.
Once you have a sense of what you’d like the finished product to contain, take the time to think through the way any potential addition would fit in. Consider the color scheme and the textures that will be visible throughout the space. Sticking to a limited color palette and to certain consistent textures goes a long way in crafting something beautiful.
You’ll find that each part you consider offers varying amounts of customization. Some can be painted to match up with the scheme you’ve chosen, but this won’t always be an option. Before you make any purchase, make sure the part you’re looking at either fit in already, or that you have a plan to make it fit once you’ve taken delivery.
Preparing for installation
Regardless of how you get in touch with a seller, once you’ve zeroed in on the part you’d like to purchase, you’ve got a lot of responsibilities to think about. Think of these as opportunities to both save money by putting in some labor, and to lose money by being lazy.
First and most importantly always research the steps you’ll need to take to install your new furniture before making any purchase. You need a plan in place for getting that work done, whether it’s to put in the wrench time yourself or to hire someone else to do it. Keep this cost in mind when pricing out how much you’ll save by going used – if a part from a supplier costs more up front but includes installation, you might save yourself time and a headache by going that route.
Second, make sure that you’re able to procure all the pieces you’ll need from your seller, or from somewhere else. Anyone selling you a used part should be able to provide you with a detailed list of each piece you’ll be receiving. Look for instruction manuals online and make sure there aren’t any specialty pieces missing, otherwise, you could be left with a great piece of furniture and no way to mount it in your RV.
Speaking of installation, there’s one step that often trips up people new to the customization practice, and that’s getting your parts into the RV itself. When you’re looking at bigger pieces like beds, kitchen items, and chairs, you need to make sure there’s space inside but also that the item itself can get in and out without damaging your RV. The same goes for anything you’d like to remove from the camper during this process.
Next, make sure you take the time to check that the new items you’ll be introducing to your RV are compatible with the structure you already have set up. For simple furniture pieces this can be easy enough, but for items with electrical currents or plumbing components, you’ll need to make sure everything matches up, or that you have adaptors ready to go.
Check each input and output for any connected furniture piece and compare them to the ones you’re currently using. If this is not your area of expertise, it’s definitely worthwhile to consult with a professional, or at least someone with a bit more time under their belt. Having a pipe burst or an electrical system fail is never fun and it can be costly down the road, so don’t skimp on this step.
Finally, always consider how to safely ship any items you pick up. If you’re doing a deal in-person, this should be easy enough, but things can become more complicated when dealing with online retailers. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller the exact method that will be used to ship your items, and as always, keep the cost of shipping in mind when it comes to your bottom line.
With anything we’ve talked about here, remember that you have the ability to be flexible based on your budget. Handling installation yourself is probably the single biggest area where you can save a little money with this process. If you’ve got a good collection of spare parts, you might be able to find appropriate materials to handle this job without having to source anything new. There are lots of ways to make this work – the specifics are all up to you.
Making the change
As long as you’ve followed all the proper steps involved in finding and purchasing your used part, the actual installation process should go quite smoothly. When you’re ready to make the change, you’ll simply remove any parts of your living space needed to make way for the new furniture, and then you can install your new items.
The actual changeover is a time when a lot can go wrong. Pay special attention to the ways all your furniture is anchored and be sure to test everything thoroughly before putting the vehicle in motion. Always follow manufacturers’ recommendations when it comes to properly anchor your items. If you’re new to this process, it can be helpful to either hire someone more experienced or to work with an experienced friend to make sure you get this part right.
Don’t forget to keep track of the pieces you remove from your RV during this process. Just because a certain piece of furniture wasn’t right for you doesn’t mean someone else won’t appreciate it. You can make some money right away by selling your own used furniture in the same places where you picked up the items you’re installing.
Try to make decisions about what will be sold and what will be scrapped before you begin any teardown. This way you’ll know which items need to be removed safely, and which can be torn down further if the need arises. If you know a certain item will be sold on later, be sure to keep track of all mounting pieces and keep everything together. Just like you hoped to find a complete package, whoever buys your used furniture will want to have these pieces as well.
Even if an item does not warrant being sold as is, it can still be valuable as scrap or recycling. You’ll want to pay special attention to any item which contains specific metal pieces, even small wires. Once you’re able to isolate that metal, there could be plenty of scrap yards that would pay top dollar for just the piece on its own.
Enjoying your new(ish) furniture
Deciding to go with used furniture over new items can save lots of money and be a benefit to the overall look and feel of your interior. By taking the time to decide what it is you’re aiming to create, you can actually get a much better and more customized space going with used items over new ones. But part of this process is taking the time to consider whether your additions have had the desired effect.
Once you’ve had your piece in the RV for a few weeks, take some time to check whether everything is going according to your plan. Does the item still function as advertised? Has the space been altered significantly by the addition and are you happy with that adjustment?
The piece to remember here is that your first used furniture purchase is always the hardest – after doing this once you’ll get the hang of all the important parts. Deciding to make another change afterwards will be a much easier process which you’ll already be better prepared for.
When you do hit on a setup or on a piece that you’re happy with, though, then it’s time to celebrate! Take the initiative to show others the furniture you’ve brought in. At a minimum, you’ll be able to show off your skills as an owner and handyman. Sometimes, though, those who see your work will be able to share other ideas for how to expand on the space you’ve already developed, helping you find your next project!
Used parts can be a great way to stretch your budget and get you closer to the RV of your dreams. As enthusiasts, it’s tough to stop thinking about how you might tinker with your vehicle, and if you do this process well, you don’t have to! Just remember the key steps to ensuring success with your used part experience:
- Make a plan
- Take time to pick the correct item
- Know your seller and communicate with them directly
- Be careful with teardown and installation
- Enjoy your new furniture!