DIY vs Hiring an RV Handyman: Pros and Cons

DIY RV repairs can save money but take time and effort to learn. Hiring a professional is more convenient yet costly. This guide will outline the advantages and disadvantages of tackling RV fixes yourself compared to using a repair service. Understanding these tradeoffs will help RV owners decide what best suits their budget, skills, and lifestyle.  

The goal here is to provide the pros and cons of DIY versus professional RV repair. Key considerations include costs, time requirements, quality of work, tools and skills needed, and convenience. Both options have their place depending on individual circumstances.

By examining the benefits and downsides detailed below, RV owners can determine whether their time is better spent attempting repairs themselves or if it makes more sense financially and logistically to outsource the work to a qualified RV repair technician. The best choice depends on each owner’s mechanical aptitude and budget.

DIY vs Hiring an RV Handyman

What You Need to Consider for DIY RV Conversion and Repairs

Here are the key things you need to consider for DIY RV conversion and repairs:

Budget – Converting and upgrading an RV requires significant investments for materials, tools, appliances, furniture, etc. Realistically estimate costs and have a financial plan. 

Time – DIY projects take a lot of time, especially if you’re doing major remodels. Make sure you have the bandwidth to take on conversion projects.

Skills & Knowledge – From electrical and plumbing to carpentry and appliance installation, you need certain skills. Be honest about your DIY competency. 

Design Plans – Map out detailed plans for your RV conversion including floorplans, materials list, appliance specs, etc. This will make execution easier.

Weight Distribution – Keep the RV’s weight balanced and within axle ratings when adding features to avoid safety issues.

Permits & Inspections – Research what legally requires certified electrician/plumber sign-off or inspections. Don’t shortcut the rules.

Tools & Workspace – Converting RVs requires having the proper tools and workspace. Invest in essential equipment and create an organized garage work area. 

Repair Complexity – Some RV repair jobs are quite complex. Know your limits; some repairs are best left to professionals to avoid headaches.

Safety Precautions – Take steps to ensure your safety. Wear protective gear, get help lifting heavy objects, provide ventilation, etc. Prevent accidents.

Key Differences Between DIY vs. Hiring an RV Handyman

Here is a key differences when deciding between DIY vs hiring an RV handyman for repairs and conversion projects:

FactorDIYHiring a Pro
CostLess expensive for materials. Saves significantly on labor costsMore expensive – must pay hourly or project rates for labor plus materials
TimeRequires large time commitment for design, learning and actual workFaster completion time as experts know the most efficient methods
SkillsNeed mechanical skills which take effort to learn like electrical, plumbing, carpentry, etc.Pros already have specialized technical skills from years of training and practice
QualityOutcomes depend on DIY skill level. Greater risk of errors.Typically professional and uniform results
ToolsMust purchase or rent necessary tools and equipmentRV pros have thousands of dollars of professional grade equipment
ControlFull control to make all customization, layout and material decisionsMust relinquish some control and communicate needs clearly
Insurance/WarrantyNo professional guarantees for work. Problems must be fixed personallyMany handymen offer project warranties and liability insurance
Resale ValueDIY customizations may not appeal to buyers or carry less perceived valueProfessionally converted rigs retain resale value better

The choice between DIY or hiring a handyman depends on budget, skill level, project complexity, time constraints, and degree of customization desired. Assess each factor above for the specific project to determine if DIY is advisable or paying for expert work makes sense. Consider trying smaller DIY tasks first to build towards bigger projects.

Pros of DIY RV Conversion and Repairs

Here is a list of the pros of DIY RV conversion and repairs:

Cost-effectiveness: Taking on conversion and repair projects yourself saves significantly on labor costs. While you need to pay for materials, you avoid hourly rates for electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and other skilled tradespeople. Even factoring in purchases of tools and equipment, DIY is cheaper.

Sense of accomplishment: Successfully tackling conversion and repair work on your own gives an immense feeling of personal satisfaction. Seeing your custom RV take shape with upgrades and fixes done by your own hands is incredibly rewarding.  

Control over the project: As the DIY owner-builder, you make all decisions related to design elements, floorplans, materials used, appliance models, finishes, and construction techniques. You can customize the RV to suit your needs and style.

Unique, one-of-a-kind build: Opting for DIY conversion means your RV will likely have customized features, layouts, and decorative details that reflect your personality and vision. This one-off character is difficult to achieve with commercial conversion companies.  

Easier to modify later: If you change your mind in the future about certain aspects of your DIY RV build, you can modify them more easily since you know the systems inside out. This flexibility can extend the life of your RV.

More familiarity with the systems: Completing your own conversion and repairs means you will learn about your RV’s electrical, plumbing, propane, HVAC, and other systems. This prevents unexpected breakdowns and makes ongoing maintenance simpler.

Potential for learning new skills: RV conversion and repair projects provide an opportunity to develop practical, technical skills in areas like carpentry, electrical wiring, metal fabrication, and more. These abilities may translate into future DIY savings.

Cons of DIY RV Conversion and Repairs

Here is a list of the cons of DIY RV conversion and repairs:

Time commitment: Converting and upgrading an RV demands a major time investment. Design plans, demolition, construction, system installations, finishing details—it all takes considerable effort spanning weeks or months. This may conflict with work schedules or family commitments.

Skill level requirements: Based on the extent of your conversion or repair job, specific skills like carpentry, wiring, plumbing, welding and more are necessary. Without experience in construction trades, lack of expertise can result in frustration, poor work quality or unfortunate outcomes.

Potential for mistakes: Completing your own conversion or repairs often involves some trial and error along the way. However, blunders can lead to hazardous RV systems, unusable living spaces, functionality issues and expensive problems to remedy. Mistakes also slow overall progress.

Lack of tools and equipment: Many RV projects require heavy-duty, specialized tools for cutting, fastening, shaping parts and accessing awkward spaces. If you need to purchase these as a home DIYer, it adds to costs—sometimes substantially. Renting tools is another option.

Difficulty getting RV insurance: Since DIY builds don’t undergo the same strict quality control and safety testing of mass-produced RVs, obtaining coverage may prove challenging with some insurers. This could result in paying higher premiums.

Lower resale value: The time, money and effort put into a custom conversion may not pay off in terms of recovering your investments if you choose to sell. DIY RVs have a more limited market compared to recognized manufactured models.

Pros of Hiring an RV Handyman

Here is a list of pros for hiring an RV handyman:

Expertise and experience: Professional RV handymen have years of knowledge and skills specialized in RV maintenance and repairs. They know the right methods and techniques to service plumbing, electrical systems, appliances, slide-outs and more. This enables them to accurately diagnose issues and make fixes properly the first time.

Efficiency and speed: Experienced handyman will complete jobs safely yet swiftly and efficiently. They have streamlined processes perfected over hundreds or thousands of prior RV projects. Their insight and tool proficiency allow them to target problems for rapid solutions rather than slowly troubleshooting. This saves you significant time.

Safety: Reputable professionals always adhere to critical safety practices when tackling repairs like properly redirecting propane lines, supporting heavy objects, providing ventilation, and locking out electrical breakers. They also use appropriate gear to protect both themselves and your RV from harm. Trusting safety to experts reduces risk.  

Warranty and insurance: Many professional mobile RV repair services offer warranties on parts and labor as well as liability insurance and workers compensation coverage. This gives you assurance that if mistakes occur or something breaks prematurely, there are protections in place to have it promptly corrected for free with no drawn-out claims processes. Peace of mind is invaluable when renovating an expensive asset like an RV.

Cons of Hiring an RV Handyman

Here is a list of cons for hiring an RV handyman:

Cost: The expense of outsourcing repairs and upgrades to RV service professionals adds up rapidly. Labor is typically billed at an hourly shop rate in addition to the costs of parts and materials. For major projects, overall expenses using a tradesman easily run into the thousands. This is likely substantially higher than a DIY budget.

Loss of control: When you hire out work, you must relinquish decision-making related to things like prioritizing issues to tackle, specific brands or models to install, customization options, and cosmetic choices. The RV pro takes the lead based on their preferences and protocols, leaving you with less influence on the process.

Potential for scheduling conflicts: Reputable mobile RV technicians stay busy especially during peak travel seasons. Finding availability that fits your timeframe may prove challenging resulting in program delays. You must work within their existing appointments. Last minute or emergency repairs are particularly difficult to schedule.

Communication challenges: Effectively communicating needs and expectations is crucial when any contractor tackles upgrades or repairs in your RV. Misunderstandings related to budget, aesthetics, functionality priorities or projected timelines often surface. DIS discussions to mitigate this ahead of time is wise to avoid problems.

What Types of RV Projects are Best for DIY?

Here is a list of RV projects well-suited for DIY:

Basic Maintenance 

  • Checking tire pressure
  • Resealing windows, doors, vents
  • Lubricating hinges 
  • Replacing air filters
  • Flushing water lines
  • Waxing exterior
  • Touch up paint

Minor Upgrades

  • Installing new fixtures/hardware
  • Updating lighting 
  • Painting cabinets
  • Adding shelving
  • Mounting TVs
  • Window treatments
  • Flooring upgrades
  • Organizational solutions 

These projects require commonly available tools and materials plus basic skills like using screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, saws, and drills. Tasks are fairly straightforward without extensive disassembly or complex construction techniques. If you can handle general household maintenance, these RV DIY jobs present an achievable challenge to try boosting mechanical abilities while improving your rig. Taking RV repair courses can further prepare you as well. Start simple before attempting more difficult whole-system overhauls.

What RV Projects Require a Professional?

A list of RV projects best left to professional handymen:

Electrical Systems

  • Installing solar power 
  • Upgrading main electrical panel
  • Fixing short circuits
  • Adding high-powered appliances
  • Generator maintenance

Plumbing Systems

  • Installing fresh water tanks
  • Swapping out water pumps
  • Fixing leaky pipes or fittings 
  • Unclogging black/gray tanks
  • Upgrading to tankless water heater

Other Complex Repairs

  • Diagnosing & fixing appliance issues 
  • Repairing/replacing axles
  • Fixing leveling jacks
  • Servicing AC units
  • Slide-out repairs
  • Roof or window leaks

These tasks require technical certifications, specialized tools, diagnostic capabilities, and methodical safety protocols to mitigate fire hazards and system damage. Attempting repairs without sufficient electrical, mechanical, or construction training risks shorting circuits, obstructing plumbing lines, disregarding codes, and leaving issues unresolved. Hire licensed electricians, plumbers or RV technicians to handle intricate system issues.

How Can I Learn DIY RV Skills?

For RV owners motivated to start tackling more maintenance and upgrades themselves, acquiring DIY knowledge is the crucial first step. While major systems work is best left to seasoned pros, there are ways for beginners to build proficiency in basic troubleshooting and projects to take preventative action and save money. Exploring resources to learn can instill confidence to carefully take on more ambitious endeavors within their skill range.

Online Tutorials 

YouTube videos offer step-by-step visual instructions for things like winterizing plumbing, uninstalling appliances, calculating electrical loads, and much more. Look for content creators who focus specifically on DIY RV owner education. 

RV Repair Guides

Pick up a book or eBook dedicated to preventative maintenance and common repairs for RVs. These offer detailed walkthroughs for issues like generator troubleshooting, roof sealing, leveling jack repair and more. Some focus on specific RV components like AC units or sanitation systems.

Practice on Minor Repairs 

Build proficiency by first tackling basic maintenance tasks yourself. This hands-on experience makes you comfortable with tools, materials, RV construction and how systems connect. Once minor repairs feel manageable, carefully take on slightly larger projects within your evolving skill range.

How to Decide If You Should Hire a Professional or Go the DIY Route?

Determining whether to hire an expert or take on RV repairs and upgrades yourself requires honest assessment of your personal skills, budget constraints, time availability and repair complexity. Carefully weighing all contributing factors allows the soundest decision that sets your project up for success while keeping frustrations and costs under control.

And here is a list of things to consider when deciding whether to DIY or hire a pro:

Assessing Individual Capabilities

  • What existing mechanical skills do you have and which must you acquire? 
  • Will you need to buy or rent special tools and are you trained to use them safely?
  • Do you understand RV construction, electrical systems, plumbing, etc? If not, is there time to learn?

Confidence in Tackling Repairs

  • Does the repair seem achievable or completely unfamiliar? Be realistic.
  • Are you willing to risk making very expensive mistakes on complex tasks?
  • How will you troubleshoot issues beyond your current knowledge base?

Calculating Potential Costs 

  • Factor in expenses for tools, materials, potential mistakes requiring rework
  • Compare projected DIY costs to pro estimates 

Balancing Financial Factors

  • Can you complete the work within your budget and schedule restraints? 
  • Are savings worth the time demands and risks or is hiring out worthwhile?

Repair Complexity Assessment 

  • Minor tasks like caulking or upgrades are great DIY options to start
  • Major electrical and plumbing jobs often require a licensed technician 

Asking these questions when deciding between DIY or professional routes before launching conversion projects or repair work leads you to the soundest choice on a case by case basis.


Deciding between DIY RV repairs and hiring a pro hinges on the project, your skills, and budget. To make a wise choice, assess project complexity, your expertise, and financial limits. Balance is key—ensure a smooth journey by tailoring your decision to the unique needs of your RV and your capabilities.

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