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DonFromTX 01-19-2018 04:53 PM

To build or to buy
I never paid much attention to building costs, building was more important to me than selling the completed product or even flying it. I took some time just now and added up what one would spend if he built an RV12 just like the one I have for sale, since I have one for sale fully equipped.
The comedy of it is that if you spend $76,453.00 for the RV 12 Kit, then pay for freight and tools in addition, you would have a completed plane, exactly like the one I have for sale for $69000.00. This would assume your labor is totally free as well and you don't even want to fly for a couple (or more) years!
I am not sure what that really means, maybe some discussion would be in order. To me it means others are like me that just want to build a plane! I seem to have zero interest in buying mine, but kits are still going strong.

rv9builder 01-19-2018 05:05 PM

Don, I assume you're selling the one you built. Don't you want to fly it before you sell it? There also might be more interest in it if it was out of Phase I.

Piper J3 01-19-2018 06:04 PM

I went through this yin/yang three years ago. I really wanted to build but thought better of it after fully considering family commitments. I ended up trading my J3-Cub plus some cash for a flying 12 with low hours built be original owner. The 12 was located in the same state that I live in so no sales tax were paid.

The RV-12 ELSA appealed to me because the Two-Day Light Sport Repairman Inspection Course allows you to apply for an FAA Repairman Certificate. I can now do my own Annual Condition Inspections.

Life is good… :D

DonFromTX 01-19-2018 06:08 PM

No, this comparison was to my ELSA RV12, not the one I built. Air Force one is for sale also, but for far less of course, as you say phase one would help a lot on that one, I am making some plans to part it out if it does not sell. In the old days there would be a line formed to fly free for 40 hours in it.
I spent over $6000 and 12 monhs trying to get a BFR so I could do phase 1, decided to just give up. Bought this ELSA to get that done as well, then it seems a CFI feels an experimental is too dangerous to do a flight review. Some so called flight instructors I should turn in, long sad story there.

rgmwa 01-19-2018 07:19 PM

One feature of the 12 that I liked was knowing pretty accurately what it was going to cost me to build a fully optioned plane before I ordered the first kit. When it was finished I'd spent about AUD$1,500 more than my original estimate of AUD$96,000 including tools and paint, which was pretty good in my view (building a US kit is expensive when you live in Australia and have to deal with exchange rates, freight and taxes).

My 12 has been flying for two and a half years now, and would probably sell for around AUD$75,000-$85,000, depending on the market and how long I want to wait for a sale. I'm as much a builder as a flyer, so if it sold for $80k then it has cost me about $17.5k for the fun and experience I gained while building it over a four year period - call it $85 per week. For me that was time and money well spent. Those who are not interested in building would probably see it as four years of flying funds and time wasted. Good luck with your sale Don. Hope you get a buyer soon.

Edit: N941WR makes a very good point. A major part of the fun of building was getting to know so many fine people along the way. It really is a journey.

N941WR 01-19-2018 07:31 PM

I didn't want to know and still don't want to know how much I spent.

For me it was about the journey and the friends I made along the way.

I guestimate that I bought close to $20K in tools and miscellaneous things that didn't go directly into the plane. (Including a vacation for my long suffering wife and I.)

scottmillhouse 01-22-2018 03:14 PM

A flying plane can be a bargain compared to build your own. I have over $90k invested but I do have all options including dual screens and it is professionally painted. Other expenses not included besides tools add up too like the $600 for DAR inspection and $2100 in state sales taxes but I have a brand new plane I built rather than buying a S-LSA for over $130k as equipped.

vic syracuse 01-22-2018 03:25 PM


Originally Posted by N941WR (Post 1233535)
I didn't want to know and still don't want to know how much I spent.

For me it was about the journey and the friends I made along the way.

I guestimate that I bought close to $20K in tools and miscellaneous things that didn't go directly into the plane. (Including a vacation for my long suffering wife and I.)

I try not to think of all of the money and fuel I have spent on airplanes in the last 40 years. What I do think about OFTEN is all of the memories and friends we have made along the way. They really are irreplaceable.


RFSchaller 01-23-2018 10:57 PM


I’ll second that —— cocaine would have been cheaper over the last 30 years, but not half as much fun!😜


Dave12 01-24-2018 09:46 AM

Four years ago I sold a 12 that I built from kits purchased from Vans. IMO This was a tastefully appointed airplane and was registered Elsa. The first person that looked at it, paid my price (which was more than I had in it). I do think I got a bit lucky on that sale and I also think the market has softened a bit on 12’s. That being said, I do believe a number of factors play into the resale of our projects. I am convinced that the build quality and paint scheme make all the difference with your resale. Sloppy workmanship that does not follow accepted industry standards will speak for itself. Unfortunately, we see this in the home built world, in spite of the great efforts of Van’s to instruct and educate us to do otherwise. Regarding the paint schemes, now this a biggie, when you first view an on line picture, what forms your first thought? We usually know in a glance if we like it. What you think will be cool and make your project very personal to you is quite possibly going to be a sale killer down the road. It happens all the time.

There are other factors that enter into the resale of our project. Not having phase 1 completed can certainly be a problem, actually a big problem for a 12. We are only talking 5 hours if elsa. It is equally a problem for all exp. built a/c. Having non-functional equipment or poorly repaired damage are other big factors. Another huge factor is non-standard engines. Try selling a 10 with a vortec V-6 or a 9 with an Eggenfellner Subaru in it. I believe the sales figures on 12’s with engines other than the 912 will show significantly less prices and interest.

My comments are not meant to offend. I only mean to remind that if you are going to “personalize “ your project, be prepared for the possibility of a tough sale that might be painful. Also, don’t hack up your kit, if you don’t understand a step or know what would be an acceptable procedure, stop and find out.

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