Last Updated on 11/02/2023 by Glynn Willard
Airstream trailers come in eight different variations, each offering several different high quality floor plans.
They’re beautiful, iconic and well built. In fact, Airstream owners will attribute that older Airstream’s hold their value well and last a long time.
Knowing this unveils an important question for those considering an Airstream as an option.
Should you buy a new trailer (Airstream), consider Airstream alternatives or consider the used market and have an older Airstream fully renovated?
The last option, renovating an Airstream travel trailer, is worth considering if you want an Airstream model that’s perfect for YOU.
In this article, we’ll discuss the time frame, price ranges and engineering of an Airstream renovation by one of the industry leaders, Innovative Spaces.
Airstream Brand (Roots)
There’s no argument that the classic look of Airstream campers is appealing!
Airstream RVs have a long history of high quality build and craftsmanship.
This all began in 1931 with the opening of the first factory by the founder, Wally Byam.
What inspired him? He built a makeshift trailer on a Model T chassis because his wife didn’t like sleeping on the ground in a tent.
Gee, that sounds familiar!
The “new and exciting” world of travel trailers spawned over 400 manufacturers in the RV industry, but unstable financial times during that era left only one remaining manufacturer.
But it was World War II that may have had the greatest impact on the Airstream’s build quality.
During the war, all aluminum supplies were directed toward the war effort, shutting down Airstream (temporary).
Wally and his team spent their time employed by the aircraft industry, where they learned and applied new skill sets influencing the design and build of Airstream.
This influence can still be seen today.
Even though Airstream has evolved with the times and changed hands many times, both the company and the first trailers in production have stood the test of time.
In fact, many of the first trailers are still road worthy.
Airstream Floor Plans
With eight travel trailer models from which to choose with lengths ranging from 16′ to 33′, Airstream’s make a great tiny home.
Yes there are a few “spin-offs” with sponsored names (REI and Pottery Barn), but ultimately, there are eight styles.
They include the following models:
- Classic (this larger trailer has the most living space).
- Pottery Barn Special Edition
- Trade Wind
- Flying Cloud (the first time we toured an Airstream, it was a Flying Cloud).
- Airstream Bambi
Some recreational vehicles with limited floor plans and some with up to four floor plans with minor variations.
The Flying Cloud has the most variety of floor plans. In fact, it’s what we were interested in buying.
Your choices for Airstream floorplans are:
- Front Bedroom
- Rear Bedroom
- Bunk House
- Office Unit
There are variations amongst the listed floor plan choices.
There’s also a line of Airstream vans that are lighter weight and best for city streets.
This is a good option if a standard van will work for you.
For those of you who like to boondock, all Airstream recreational vehicles can be equipped with solar panels, inverters and batteries.
Best Airstream Alternative (Modern)
There’s more than one great Airstream Alternative. And not all the alternatives are fiberglass trailers.
Yes, we had and loved our Outdoors RV, which was built like a tank and well insulated. It was perfect for our style of boondocking.
But maybe you want an aluminum trailer.
The only aluminum trailer I’m willing to consider as an alternative is ATC toy hauler.
ATC’s are built with an aluminum frame, aluminum exterior and an aluminum interior. They’re lightweight and sturdy.
We’ve toured many ATC’s and even came close to purchasing one, but the numbers didn’t work for us at the time.
But alas, if you’re in the market, ATC is worth considering as an option.
Especially if your tow vehicle is best suited for a lightweight Airstream.
Should You Renovate A Used Or Vintage Airstream?
Buying a new Airstream is not the only option if you’ve narrowed your list down to just Airstream.
Acquiring a used or vintage Airstream to renovate is a great option to own a high quality travel trailer that’s built around you.
Remember what I wrote previously in the article? “Many of the first Airstream travel trailers are still road worthy.”
Perhaps you want twin beds, different overhead cabinets, additional storage space, modern features or a better full bathroom.
Let’s dive deeper into one company who stands among the best and can give you a great trailer.
Who Renovates Airstreams?
There are a few companies who renovate Airstream trailers and vans, but again, one in particular stands out as a superior choice.
You can really tell when you speak directly with the founder whether he/she truly cares about the product quality and the customer.
Nate’s one of those founders.
Airstream Renovations By Innovative Spaces
A great business begins with a great leader who recognizes his/her strengths and weaknesses and fills in the gaps with the right people.
One of Nate Stover’s greatest attributes is his ability to problem solve.
And when you’re completely renovating a small space (especially with curves), a lot of creativity and problem solving is a big part of the equation.
In fact, During Rose’s interview with Nate, one thing kept coming to her mind.
Nate’s commitment to quality, attention to detail and customer service reminded her of her late father who was a cabinet maker for celebrities in New York City.
Nate’s style also resonated with both Rose and I because we were committed to the same values in our business of 20+ years, which we sold.
Attention to detail and customer service were our top priorities and our 5 star reviews proved it worked.
How Can You Have Innovative Spaces Renovate An Airstream For You?
For those who are “old school,” call and Nate will take the time to answer your questions and discuss your vision.
Those of you who prefer filling out a form, that too is an option. It’s a good start, but keep in mind this is an “in depth” process requiring a lot of communication.
If you don’t have the vehicle/travel trailer, Innovative Spaces will connect you with someone who can find a good deal on a used trailer for the renovation you envision.
Cost For An Airstream Renovation
Full renovations, which are very in-depth run between 100-150k.
Bear in mind that the frame is “unzipped” from the shell, so that the chassis or “foundation” if you will, of the trailer is solidified for years to come.
Innovative solutions will also do partial renovations, minor alterations and repairs of specific systems to Airstreams.
Billing is broken into two phases. The first covers 90% of the build and the second is the remaining 10% due on completion.
There is some flexibility with this schedule depending on the build type and cost.
You’ll be updated weekly with photos and videos.
Ongoing design meetings and site visits are also incorporated to make sure you approve of all decisions.
How Long Will It Take To Renovate An Airstream?
The typical time frame for a full renovation of an Airstream will take 9-12 months.
A partial Airstream renovation can take 3-6 months.
In fact, some small jobs will only take 1-2 days depending on the complexity of the project.
Innovative Spaces requires a $15k retainer fee once the decision is made to move forward.
This fee covers the design work and design management throughout the process.
Any excess will be put toward the final bill for the renovation.
You will be involved in every step of the process during the design phase. This is where you let their creativity and yours merge for the perfect outcome!
Properly Engineered Airstream Renovation
If you follow any aspect of Reset Your Journey, you know we’re sticklers for not exceeding the cargo carrying capacity of any RV.
So when someone tells me they’ve renovated any type of RV, I always ask if they stayed within the weight limits.
And if not, have they altered the frame, axles, suspension and wheels to counter the excess?
This is not a concern with Innovative Spaces.
Structural changes are engineered to stay within the upgraded weight capacities of the frame and axle as well as properly balanced within the trailer/RV.
Innovative Spaces are genuine pros!
Wrapping Up Updating An Older Airstream
The decision to acquire a used Airstream or camper van for renovation is no small endeavor.
It requires a lot of planning, time and money. Do-it-yourself jobs are risky and could easily degrade the integrity of the vehicle/trailer.
There are so many aspects that go into the design of a renovation to cultivate unique features, give you a vintage look and make that shiny silver exterior pop.
A renovation that will last generations is a job for the pros.
Innovative Spaces is the real deal and can offer you the solution to your vision.
You’ll end up with the ultimate in luxury trailers and a one-of-a-kind trailer!!
Take the time to review their portfolio and you’ll be blown away by the creativity, craftsmanship and attention to detail.
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