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Author Topic: Conversion time?  (Read 4303 times)
steve5B
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« on: January 18, 2009, 07:01:42 PM »


   I was wondering over all how long does it take to do the conversion.  I know , how much time you have , layout, ect. ect.

   I have everything I need to do mine, however I don't have the time, so I am going sub it out to some local carpenters.

   Any em put would be greatly appreciated.


   Steve 5B...
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Blacksheep
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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2009, 07:10:31 PM »

Steve it will take a whole lot more than just a simple carpenter!

A general contractor is more like it! Somebody that can do it all!

Ace
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« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2009, 07:11:29 PM »

You will get as many answers as there are buses and bus converters!

It all depends on what type of work is needed and how much labor and materials cost.

Have a budget in mind before you let anyone use a saw! Get it in writing and agree on what has to be done.

Some have hundreds if not thousands of hours in a coach, it all depends on how far you are willing to take it.

Good Luck, I've been working on ours for five years with no end in sight! Roll Eyes

Paul
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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2009, 07:17:48 PM »

I think the design and lay out of everything is needed for  electrical plumbing and mechanical first. do you have that?
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2009, 07:50:15 PM »

My younger brother did most (all?) of the work removing the school bus seats.  He did that in one afternoon.  I installed the temporary sleeping and cooking facilities in two days.  That got the Crown licensed in Oregon as a motor home.

Found most my time was spent doing little needful repairs and mods.  Required maintenance was easy.  Cleaning out the shell to sell it required a couple days as I'm not the best housekeeper.  Stripping the shell was easy.  HB of CJ
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BG6
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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2009, 08:25:00 PM »


   I was wondering over all how long does it take to do the conversion. 

That largely depends on what you start with, and what you end up with.  A quick and dirty, pass-the-inspection job can be done in an afternoon.  This might be necessary if you need MH registration right away, then turn around and do the real conversion.

If you A), get a good running empty coach shell, B), have your layout planned, C), have all of your parts and materials, and D), have a willing helper, figure a day per module:

1) scrub the floor, do any painting, lay down linoleum for kitchen and bath (hint: do the whole floor and put carpet over it)
2) lay out and mark locations for your walls, counters, tanks, aircons, heaters, plumbing, power, etc, cut passthru holes
3) another day to redo it because you forgot something, you got a really great deal on a different model, or just plain goofed
4) put in the carpet, bedroom fixtures and bedroom wall and door
5) water and waste tanks, water heater
6) bathroom tub, toilet, sink, walls, door
7) kitchen counter and cabinets
Cool water supply, faucets and piping for kitchen and bath
9) connect to tanks
10) electrical panel, conduit, sockets, wiring
11) electrical accessories (water pump, aircons, heater)
12) misc detail stuff
13) living room furniture, fixtures
14) finish details

That comes to two weeks.  These are ALLOWANCE days.  You will find yourself finishing some things in a matter of hours, and other things going more than a day, so it will even out.

If you have to do it all alone, the time may TRIPLE -- you will spend a lot of time dealing with anything that passes through to the outside when you have to walk the length of the coach, go down the steps, then walk all the way back on the outside, do the task, and go back in for the next part.  Some things you will NEED a helper, so be ready to take stuff out of turn while you wait for someone to help you load the tub, washing machine, etc.

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« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2009, 10:59:07 PM »

Heh!
I started with a total schooled-out Crown and worked on it roughly 10 hours a day, starting with pulling the seats, raising the roof, etc.
Took me about a year and a half to get really finished with it at the 10 hr per day rate, and an awful lot of that year.5 was 5-6 days a week.
And from what I can tell, I finished it years sooner than many folks do.  I have a friend who is supposedly full-time building his bus and it's been about 6 months now,
he's got the gene mounted, the bed built, the water and pooh tanks in and that's about it.
So what does this mean? It means that it takes a LOT of work and no-one can tell you how long it'll take because every man works at different rates.
But I can definitely tell you don't expect to start and finish in less than a year from a bare bus....
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« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2009, 02:23:12 AM »

My first exposeure to a self converted bus I asked the man how long he owned the bus, he replied 8 years. I asked him how long it took to convert, he giggled and said 8 years!! I wish I would have recognized the insanity in that  giggle.  Jim
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steve5B
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« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2009, 07:02:17 AM »




     Hey everyone,

   I have read your post thanks.  I knew that when I bought my MCI-5B a few years back that it would take some time

  to achieve what I wanted to do.  However I didn't think it would take this long.  Procrastination I guess catches up to you

  in time.   One big question, how do you get everything in the bus?  remove the windshields, will everything fit through the

  door?

      Steve 5B....
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cody
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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2009, 07:14:28 AM »

Everything we added to ours came thru the door, nothing came thru easily, but it all did, that was a requirement for us as I have windshields that don't leak and didn't want to disturb them at all.  We've worked on our bus for 6 years now, I could have done it much quicker but the first year or 2 was spent figureing out what we wanted and where we wanted it so we had a fair share of temporary setups trying different configurations, at the time I bought our bus I hadn't heard of this board so I didn't have the resource material that is so abundantly available here to guide me.  I figure the time left to finish mine will pretty much be determined by how long I live lol,  I have a bad tendency to change things now and then.  I hear a lot of people saying that they brought their refrigerators in thru the windshields without problems, but that kind of scared me because the frige may take a poop at an inapporpriate time and require replacement when a whindshield isn't so easily removed.  Time frames vary on completion so widely that I would be very reluctant to even approach that topic.  I figure to be buried in my bus and will be adding 6 really strong handles, 3 along each side, and am recruiting pallbearers. lol
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bigjohnkub
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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2009, 07:25:31 AM »

You will never get finished.
  big john
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« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2009, 07:56:01 AM »

At one time, I had heard professional conversions took 3000 hours.  With the added complexity, I would guess it is 4500 hours now.

Planning and design took me 2-3 hours for every 1 hour of construction.   This was after I thought I had a plan.  Others would use their time differently.

Are you installing pre-built cabinets or are they constructed to fit the shape of the outside wall?

I can tell you I was very naive regarding how long the whole conversion would take to build.

Ed Roelle

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TomC
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« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2009, 08:32:25 AM »

Marathon figures in the 4,000 man hours to do a conversion-and that's at a conversion factory with all supplies there an bought.  Most of my time was spent at Home Depot, Camping World, and other places shagging parts and supplies.  The actual build time is about a third of your time.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2009, 08:36:44 AM »

I found a little notation in some of my paperwork that said that it took 3 months and $17,000 to do the conversion the last part of 1983.  He had Mennonites do the woodwork. I do not think that the John Stahr paint job was part of the total.....that was $3500 by itself. I wish i could get it redone for that price! In the 5 years that we have had it i have put about another $17,000 in upgrades in it, ie. new furniture, new glass, new solar panels and inverter,tires, etc. The biggest thing in our 5a is the new sleeper couch and i thought we would have to go thru the windshield to get it in but we managed to barely get it thru the door......took a few tries and some thinking but we did it. Grin    Still have a few changes i would like to do as i get the money......jakes, and changing the generator are the major ones, all the rest are little things that i will get around to sooner or later......maybe someday there won't be anything left on my list, but i doubt it! Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2009, 09:26:46 AM »

Everything we added to ours came thru the door, nothing came thru easily, but it all did, that was a requirement for us as I have windshields that don't leak and didn't want to disturb them at all.  We've worked on our bus for 6 years now, I could have done it much quicker but the first year or 2 was spent figureing out what we wanted and where we wanted it so we had a fair share of temporary setups trying different configurations, at the time I bought our bus I hadn't heard of this board so I didn't have the resource material that is so abundantly available here to guide me.  I figure the time left to finish mine will pretty much be determined by how long I live lol,  I have a bad tendency to change things now and then.  I hear a lot of people saying that they brought their refrigerators in thru the windshields without problems, but that kind of scared me because the frige may take a poop at an inapporpriate time and require replacement when a whindshield isn't so easily removed.  Time frames vary on completion so widely that I would be very reluctant to even approach that topic.  I figure to be buried in my bus and will be adding 6 really strong handles, 3 along each side, and am recruiting pallbearers. lol
Cody, I'll be a pallbearer for you, but I want you to think of the part in the movie Paint Your Wagon where they are lowering the brother of Clint Eastwood into the ground, and as they do they all start seeing gold sparkling in the dirt, and as soon as the last amen was said they all yanked on the rope and the body went flying thru the air lol that was funny. So the same may happen with you as the last amen is said, and I stake claim to you bus. Just let me know when, and where to be to claim my new bus I uh mean to pay my last respects.

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cody
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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2009, 09:28:35 AM »

lol, I love this crew lol.
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BG6
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« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2009, 07:39:16 PM »

Marathon figures in the 4,000 man hours to do a conversion-and that's at a conversion factory with all supplies there an bought. 

Gee, I must be doing something wrong.  I've got my conversion nearly halfway done after 3 weekends of actual working time, working alone.

This is after several months of collecting the stuff I need (again, on weekends) and dealing with a few mechanical and body issues.

However, looking at their claim and matching it to their prices, I think they're being a bit less than factual.   When you add the cost of the powered shell, materials and parts, etc, I don't see where they can absorb TWO MAN-YEARS of labor costs per unit unless they are hiring illegals or paying minimum wage.  THAT'S MORE THAN IT TAKES TO BUILD A TWO-STORY HOUSE.

That might be an average, with the numbers skyrocketing for ultra-custom stuff, but really, it doesn't take any more work to convert a coach than to build a sticks-n-staples RV, and they've built several million of those in the last couple of decades!

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« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2009, 08:00:08 PM »

BG6,
   
     You da man, I gotta see this super slick coach of yours.  And half way thru in 3 weekends.  I must say you have shown up each and everyone of us here on this board.  Was that coach seated when you got it?  If it was, then I am going to fall in the floor.   Could you post us some pictures and give us some shortcut tricks too....  Thanks for your input.
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« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2009, 05:23:29 AM »

I would like to know how these folks that do a complete conversion in a few weeks or a few month's worth of weekends do it.  They must have some radical time saving measures considering I'm now into summer number four with completion nowhere in sight and hundreds upon hundreds of hours into it between myself and friends.  I have used the bus the last two summers so it isn't a total loss.

Sticks and staples are a radical departure from a bus conversion.  First off, they are engineered from the ground up as an RV.  The chassis has little restriction on where tanks and such are placed.  They also have straight walls and corners so everything doesn't need to be customized.  A production manager makes sure the right parts that fit show up on the assembly line and there s little or no customization.

I wouldn't find it that hard to believe that Marathon puts 4,000 hours into a coach although it seems high.  If each worker costs $40 an hour than the labor would be $160,000 for one coach.  A coach might cost $400,000 for the shell, $160,000 for parts and materials, and $160,000 for labor for a total cost of $720,000 plus add maybe as much as $130,000 for overhead, marketing and other costs.  That would bring us to $850,000.

Marathon charges $540,000 to $600,000 for the shell plus about $1.4 to $1.5 million for the conversion putting the retail right about $2 million.  The real selling price is probably $1.2 to $1.5 million so they are probably doing okay.  Perhaps I underestimated the costs of the shell and the parts/materials, but even adding another $100,000 they are still coming out pretty good.

I never realized Marathon coaches cost anythnig close to $2 million, but that is what the prices where on two of the coaches I looked at on their web site.
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« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2009, 06:18:18 AM »

We got our bus in Sept. of 07 and had it on the road by May of 08.  My windows, caps and siding were already done and I was not going for a roof raise.  I'm 5 feet tall and my wife is 5 foot 4.  We spent until January planning the interior and collecting the needed pieces.  By January we had the roof airs on, vents in, and insulation sprayed and the floor in.  The original floor was in good shape and the PO had filled in the center depression, so I just laid fake pergo and sound deadener down on top.  Worked great.  We did some more planning and I got to work on stud walls and plumbing in March.  I found a travel trailer on the eplace and gutted it for its newer appliances, wiring, wood and the kitchen cabinet/countertop.  That last step saved me a great deal of time.  The layout is right for where the stove and sink are, but I will build a much nicer unit later.  By May, we had a bed structure, working bathroom, kitchen, limited 110 and 12V and we were ready to go.  Since then, I've installed the genset (need to enclose), inverter (being used to charge the house batteries only - the battery bank is not finished), transfer switch, bunks, completed the 110.  I've used 1/4 inch knotty pine for paneling and ceiling.  I saw pictures of MAK's knotty pine and I loved it.  We won't have tons of electrical stuff.  We are not full timing, and we love to be outdoors.  We used to tent camp, but the air matress' just started killing us.  There will not be a TV!  I can use my laptop for that.  Our only concession to "easy camping" is the microwave.  A note here - anyone with a baby wants to have a microwave for sterilizing bottles/heating milk!  I did design this to dry camp for about a week.  100 gal freshwater, 100gal grey, 30-40 black.  I do have solar panels to install, primarily to help reduce genset time.  All of this was done while being a stay at home dad with 1 and a half year old during his naps.

It can be done, you really first need to decide what you want.  If you want a super fancy rig, you will spend MUCH more time and money.  I'll be done with mine for under 20K.  Good luck!

Glenn
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Glenn Williams
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« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2009, 09:30:44 AM »

It took me 2 yrs @ 8 hrs a day 7 days a week, approx 7000 hrs . The first year was stripping out the interior, seats, floor and interior wall coverings. Then raised the roof 8 inch, install new steel wall framing. Then new upper siding and updated caps. New double pane RV windows and paint exterior. Install new plywood floor and isulate the interior walls. Install new dash out of a 96 NavStar OTR truck. Rewire the the coach to 12V and remove any redundant electrical components. Make single motor electric wipers and linkage. Install door hardware. Manufacture generator slide and install gen set in bay. Install new 8V92ta.

2nd year was installing the interior walls, wood work and cabinets as well as floor finish. House electrical systems, plumbing and tanks. A/C ducting and ceiling panels.



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« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2009, 10:19:26 AM »

Wow Prevost 82!  Gorgeous! Your bus and mine are perfect examples of the extreme differences of how much or how little can be done and still have a great time!

Glenn
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Glenn Williams
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« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2009, 12:31:38 PM »

I took 3 years to convert my Eagle.  Of course that is not full time work on it, but that is what I figured it would take before I started.  I only wish I could have hit my cost estimate that close.  I was way off on it.  Take what you want to spend and about double it. 

David
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« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2009, 02:23:23 PM »

BG6,
   
     You da man, I gotta see this super slick coach of yours.  And half way thru in 3 weekends.  I must say you have shown up each and everyone of us here on this board.  Was that coach seated when you got it?  If it was, then I am going to fall in the floor.   Could you post us some pictures and give us some shortcut tricks too....  Thanks for your input.

No, the seats were out, and the former owner had put in new plywood flooring.  All I had to do was measure, come up with the plans for layout, power, water and propane, then build.

Note also that the 3 weekends is ONLY the time doing the actual conversion, putting stuff into the shell.  It doesn't count time to get the shell in good shape, replace the throttle cable, etc.

My "secret" is preparation -- I got all the stuff ahead of time, measured it, then stored it in the reverse order I need it, so I don't have to hunt around for the next thing to install.

Another factor may be that I don't drink beer, so spend my day actually WORKING on the coach . . .  Wink

Seriously, I have no distractions, so I get to the storage yard at 0800 and work straight through until 1900, with only one break during the day to go get food and anything else I need.

I also have a couple of major incentives -- first, I will be fulltiming in it, and currently am in a 24-foot travel trailer (I travel a LOT with my work), so the sooner the coach is ready for prime time, the sooner I will be out of the trailer.  Second, I'm having to pay storage on the stuff and on the coach, and can think of other things I'd like to do with that money.  Getting into the coach will be like getting a $2400/yr raise in pay.

Unfortunately, the coach is a couple of hundred miles from where I'm working for the next several weeks, so to work on it, I have to stay in a motel up there (or wait until I transfer closer again).


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« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2009, 02:52:32 PM »

Sticks and staples are a radical departure from a bus conversion.  First off, they are engineered from the ground up as an RV.  The chassis has little restriction on where tanks and such are placed.  They also have straight walls and corners so everything doesn't need to be customized.  A production manager makes sure the right parts that fit show up on the assembly line and there s little or no customization.

Okay, so turn that around.  They start with a bare chassis w/power train, steering, suspension and brakes.  EVERYTHING else has to be added.  With a coach, you only HAVE to do the interior (things like raising the roof are optional and of course will take more time).  If you buy premade cabinetry and kitchen counter, all you have to do is toss them into place and screw them down.  Interior walls are fast and easy.  PEX plumbing saves hours over stiff piping.



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« Reply #25 on: January 20, 2009, 08:11:57 PM »

Okay, so turn that around.  They start with a bare chassis w/power train, steering, suspension and brakes.  EVERYTHING else has to be added.  With a coach, you only HAVE to do the interior (things like raising the roof are optional and of course will take more time).  If you buy premade cabinetry and kitchen counter, all you have to do is toss them into place and screw them down.  Interior walls are fast and easy.  PEX plumbing saves hours over stiff piping.

Sure, they have to build the shell, but they have nice jigs for that.  I have been to Winnebago and I would guess there are far less hours into a Winnebago than most of us have into our conversions.  We could only wish we had nice straight walls and a 90 degree corner at the ceiling.

I do plan to use stock countertops, but my cabinets will probably have to be custom made as my walls lean in about 10 degrees starting at the window line.  I could probably modify stock cabinets, but by the time I do that I could make some.  Plus, most stock cabinets weigh a ton unless you pay big money for ones made with plywood.
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« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2009, 06:19:05 AM »

Okay, so turn that around.  They start with a bare chassis w/power train, steering, suspension and brakes.  EVERYTHING else has to be added.  With a coach, you only HAVE to do the interior (things like raising the roof are optional and of course will take more time).  If you buy premade cabinetry and kitchen counter, all you have to do is toss them into place and screw them down.  Interior walls are fast and easy.  PEX plumbing saves hours over stiff piping.

Sure, they have to build the shell, but they have nice jigs for that.  I have been to Winnebago and I would guess there are far less hours into a Winnebago than most of us have into our conversions.  We could only wish we had nice straight walls and a 90 degree corner at the ceiling.

I do plan to use stock countertops, but my cabinets will probably have to be custom made as my walls lean in about 10 degrees starting at the window line.  I could probably modify stock cabinets, but by the time I do that I could make some.  Plus, most stock cabinets weigh a ton unless you pay big money for ones made with plywood.

Your bus shell was designed to carry 40 or more passengers, each weighing 225 lbs, each with 100 lbs of baggage, PLUS the weight of the seats, overhead shelves, toilet and tanks . . .you aren't likely to run into the gross weight ceiling the way the Winnebago owner will, so the heavier cabinets aren't a real problem.

But let's assume that you build your cabinets.  How many are you putting in?  How long to build them?  A day?  Two?

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« Reply #27 on: January 21, 2009, 08:20:34 AM »

I am not concerned about exceeding the GVW.  I have at least 8,000lbs remaining with little weight to add for the remainder of the conversion project.  I am concerned about MPG.  The more weight, the more fuel required to accelerate though I am aware that most fuel is consumed by aerodynamic drag, particularly at higher speeds.

I don't have any sort of real shop right now except a garage with a cheapie Craftsman tablesaw so building cabinets would probably take quite a few weekends.  I am hoping to have a real shop again by the time I get around to cabinets.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #28 on: January 22, 2009, 06:27:07 AM »

I am not concerned about exceeding the GVW.  I have at least 8,000lbs remaining with little weight to add for the remainder of the conversion project.  I am concerned about MPG.  The more weight, the more fuel required to accelerate though I am aware that most fuel is consumed by aerodynamic drag, particularly at higher speeds.

I don't have any sort of real shop right now except a garage with a cheapie Craftsman tablesaw so building cabinets would probably take quite a few weekends.  I am hoping to have a real shop again by the time I get around to cabinets.

You remind me of something that I had wanted to do, that being run 1000 miles on flat ground with the empty shell, to get a base line on fuel consumption, then another 1000 miles with a bunch of weight in the cargo bays to see what change there would be.  Didn't have time, unfortunately.

Cabinets aren't hard to make.  Go to Home Despot and look at how theirs are built.  You have two choices, one is to build a frame then put on skins, the other is for the skins to be structural, with gussets.  The only difference between the "assemble in 30 minutes" kit and doing it yourself is that their pieces are precut.
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