Build your own food truck or buy one – which is better?

At the beginning of your street food career, there is not only the question of the right vehicle for your concept. You should also consider the advantages and disadvantages of a self-build. Read our article to find out what you can expect from a DIY food truck and what alternatives there are.

Buddy mit Lichterketten beleuchtet im Weinverkauf Einsatz

You want to start your own street food business and are still looking for the right vehicle? The budget is often tight, especially at the beginning. Building a food truck yourself is an obvious solution and promises lower costs. However, what sounds tempting at first glance actually brings with it some difficulties. In this article you can read about the hurdles and costs you will face if you want to build your own food truck and why it can make sense to have a food truck built.

Guidelines and equipment for your food truck

Business registration and various hygiene training courses are only a small part of the licences and permits you need for a food truck. The law also imposes specific requirements on the quality of the interior and the equipment you use. So before you march into the DIY store with a tape measure and pencil to build your sales trailer yourself, you should be clear about what equipment you need for your concept.

Truck or trailer: Which basis for your street food business?

Of course, the question of a suitable base vehicle arises. A basic distinction can be made here between food trailers and food trucks. In other words, a truck or trailer that is converted into a mobile kitchen. Both have to be inspected by the TÜV at regular intervals. However, due to the engine, the costs for maintenance and wear and tear as well as the loss in value are significantly higher for a food truck. Since there is no engine in a food trailer, longer standing times are less of a problem for a mobile sales trailer. The ongoing van-life trend has also caused the prices for suitable vans, which are to serve as the basis for a self-built food truck, to skyrocket. Food trailers are therefore also significantly cheaper to purchase. Another advantage of trailers is their more timeless design. Of course, this doesn’t apply if you’re flirting with a vintage van. Apart from the technical condition and rust, you have to reckon with higher fuel costs and a complicated spare parts supply. It doesn’t matter whether you want to build a mobile sales stand yourself or buy a ready-made snack trailer: Especially at the beginning and if you are on a tight budget, such a food trailer is the more solid choice.

Electricity and gas connections for your food truck

Food trailers and trucks usually have an electricity and a gas connection. Even if you are a skilled craftsman, we advise non-professionals not to carry out any work in this connection themselves. For insurance reasons, this safety-relevant work on your self-build food truck should be carried out by a specialist. The statutory accident insurance also regulates everything else that you have to observe when handling so-called liquid gas systems.

Edelstahl Doppel-Waschbecken im Verkaufsanhänger

Sanitary facilities in your food truck

Whether food trailer or food truck, your mobile kitchen should have a double sink with hot and cold water supply as well as a suitable fresh and waste water system. The hoses and pipes used must of course be food-safe.

Surfaces and floors for your food trailer

All surfaces in your mobile food stall that come into contact with food must be easy to clean and corrosion-free. Ideally, you should use stainless steel. The floor in your food truck must be slip and abrasion resistant. If you don’t want to buy a ready-made sales trailer but build a food truck yourself, you should choose the right materials for the floor. There are special floor coverings that meet the HACCP standard required in the catering industry.

Ventilation in your food truck

The ventilation in your food truck must also meet certain standards. If you want to build your own stand, make sure that the ventilation openings are fitted with grilles. This is to prevent dirt and pests from entering your food truck.

Fritteuse und Griddleplatte aus Edelstahl in einem Grillwagen

The kitchen equipment in your food truck

Which kitchen appliances and equipment you need in detail if you want to build your own food trailer depends, of course, on your concept. A classic food truck, for example, could be equipped with an electric griddle, deep fryer, bain-marie and stainless steel refrigerator. It is therefore quite realistic that you will have to spend a four-digit amount on the equipment.

Build your own food truck: These are the costs you have to reckon with

Exactly what it costs to build a food truck yourself is difficult. Due to complex fittings and technical differences, there are too many variables here. We therefore only use rough guidelines. The Fiat Ducato is a suitable example vehicle. It is considered one of the market leaders in the small truck segment and serves as the base vehicle for a whole range of concepts. These include motorhomes, refrigerated box bodies and food trucks. In the cheapest entry-level version with a bare load floor, a new vehicle costs between 25,000 and 30,000 euros. Trailers with comparable usable space can be had for around 8,000 euros. Of course, we are talking about basic vehicles here. All installations and conversions have to be added. If you want to compare fully equipped snack trailers, take a look at our ready-to-pick-up buddies, maybe your buddy is already waiting for you.

If you want to build a snack bar trailer yourself, you also have to take your working time into account. You’ll quickly have several hundred hours of work on your clock. Based on the current minimum wage, this can add up to over 3,000 euros in no time. But kitchen appliances, sanitary facilities and refrigerators are not enough. If you do it yourself, you also have to build the sales hatch and the sales counter yourself. The costs for this snack bar equipment are, of course, on top of that.



Benjamin, der Autor dieses Beitrags, ist von Beginn an bei BuddyStar dabei und kümmert sich um das Marketing. Der leidenschaftliche Hobbykoch hat eine Vorliebe für Street-Food und reist gerne in ferne Länder, wo er immer wieder neue Food-Kreationen für sich entdeckt.

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