This Couple Renovated an Airstream for $8,000 and it’s Incredible!

Chad and Cate Battles, along with fur-babies Frankie the goat and Maggie the Adventure dog, are fulltime Airstreamers chasing beauty and adventure. After selling the “Bywater”, a riverside bar in Asheville N.C. and sending their youngest off to college, they traded their house for a home on wheels, and hit the roads of North America. 

Written by Cate Battles and originally published on their blog, Argosy Odyssey. You can follow their story by clicking here!

From a shell of an airstream, to a traveling adventure home!

It was only a year ago that the renovation of our 76′ AS Argosy went into full force. 

We were overwhelmed with the amount of work that needed to be accomplished. We were on a tight budget and we had to learn how to do most of the work ourselves. But we were excited to get started and eager to see our tiny home on wheels dream come true! 

I have a background in art and my husband is a Renaissance type of man with a degree in electronics. He can do just about anything with the right tools. By doing most of the work ourselves, shopping for deals on parts, and picking up used items where possible, we were hoping we were able to build the tiny house of our dreams on a tight budget! 

Making Sure Our Home Was Road Worthy

First and foremost, we wanted to make sure we weren’t about to throw our money away. So, to make sure our airstream was worth renovating, we took it to the shop to make sure it was road worthy and to see if there were any major damages or problems with the frame. We didn’t want any surprises down the road! Thankfully, our rig checked out! It was in relatively good condition considering it’s age and overall appearance. 

After confirming the road worthiness of our soon to be home, our next project was to gut what was left of the inside. We had to completely remove interior walls, cabinetry, sinks, and the floor. Though not a difficult task, removing the floor and the old insulation was by far the nastiest task of this whole project. 

Once the interior was gutted, the frame was cleaned off and reprimed, and new insulation was put down with a vapor barrier.


Designing Our New Home

Once the floor was in, Chad mapped out where everything would be placed – plumbing, electrical, gas lines, carpentry, appliances, and wheel wells. We were able to find original placements for a lot of these things in the 76′ owners manual that we downloaded online. However, several of these details weren’t mentioned, so we had to design a lot of it ourselves. 

We tweaked the original design a little bit to make it more efficient to live in. A 22′ Airstream leaves you with little room, so creating as many multi-purpose items and areas were key. We moved the original bed location to the front of the rig and designed it so it that it would convert to dinette. We also created hidden compartments, bookshelves, and cabinets to utilize the space. While he worked on getting these things in place, I cleaned off the interior skins and started sourcing materials, such as flooring, sinks, and appliances. 


While things were finishing up on the inside, I started the mural on the exterior. The great thing about the Argosy model is that it was the one model of AS that already came out of the factory painted off-white. For an artist, it’s a huge blank canvas. The other upside is that it’s a good way to hide imperfections and dents. I chose the theme of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” and mapped out the mural after I washed and sanded the surface. I used Valspar’s exterior anti-rust armor oil enamel paint from Lowe’s.


Between my artistic abilities and his saavy handyman skills, we were able to complete the project in 4 months. Including the airstream itself, we spent about $8,000. We bought our airstream in October of 2015. We hit the road in July of 2016. Since then, we’ve driven our airstream 30,000 miles and boy, has it been an adventure!!!!

Want to build your next house out of an airstream travel trailer? Click here!