The trailer for your food truck is an essential part of the business. It’s the first thing customers see, and it can make or break their impression of your business. Here are some things to consider before you start building your trailer.
First off, you’ll need to decide if you want a trailer or a truck-based system. Trailers are great because they’re easy to store and transport, but they tend to be more expensive than trucks. If you think that might be an issue for your budget, look into using a truck-based system instead.
Next, think about how much space you’ll need inside the trailer. You’ll want enough room for cooking equipment and supplies like coolers and freezers, but make sure it’s not so spacious that it will feel empty when there aren’t any customers around.
Finally, make sure the trailer is attractive. You want it to look like the kind of place people would want to eat at—so think about what colors would work best, what kind of graphics would catch people’s eyes on their way by (and also how easy they’ll be to clean), whether or not there needs to be any kind of signage on one side—basically everything that will help draw people in.
If you’re looking to start a food truck business, or just tossing around the idea, your first question is probably focused on price. It’s a question that we get every single day from the many entrepreneurs that want to make their culinary and business dreams a reality.
Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect to pay when buying a food truck:
$50,000 – $100,000 for a used food truck. The risk of hidden costs of repairs to the engine and kitchen will be high for lower quality trucks in the $50,000 range.
$75,000 – $100,000 for a new kitchen on a used truck chassis. Building a new kitchen can help you down the line, but a used truck may have mechanical problems that keep you off the road.
$100,000 – $175,000 for a brand new truck with a new kitchen. When you buy a new kitchen on a new truck, you’ll have much fewer hidden costs down the line.
*NOTE: In 2022 we’ve seen disruptions in food equipment supply chains, meaning materials used to build food trucks is scarce and prices have gone up. This also affects used equipment. Next we’ll cover what these prices actually mean in terms of the risk your taking on and some of the hidden costs you could face.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Food Truck?
The costs to build a food trailer vary greatly. The bigger and more complex your food truck is, the higher the price tag will be.
You must also take into consideration where you plan to locate your business. The cost of building a restaurant or food trailer in Los Angeles is much different than that of building one in Chicago or New York City.
Cost to Buy a Food Truck Shell
This is the first step in building a food trailer. It can be difficult to determine the cost of a food trailer shell, as some are more expensive than others and there are many factors that affect price.
The cost of the shell depends on its type (or “style”), size and age–the older it is, the cheaper it tends to be.
Cost to Build an Interior For a Food Trailer
The next step is to build out your trailer’s interior. This can be done in several ways, depending on what you want to do with the space and how much money you have available.
When building an interior for a food trailer, it is important to consider things like:
- What kind of flooring will go inside the trailer? (plastic, wood, tile)
- How will the walls be constructed? (drywall or insulation)
- Will there be any plumbing and electrical work that needs to take place before we start cooking on our new kitchen?
Steps on How to Build A Food Truck From Scratch
When you’re ready to take on the task of building your own food truck, there are a few steps that you need to take. The first thing you need to do is buy a shell for your trailer. This can be either an old restaurant trailer or one that has been stripped down and converted into an open air food truck.
Once you have purchased the shell, it’s time to start planning what sort of interior design pattern and layout you want for your food truck. Once this has been decided upon and finalized, it will be time to move on with building out the actual kitchen area of your business as well as any seating areas within your vehicle/trailer. You will also need to decide whether or not there will be room available inside for storage or if all supplies are going into storage outside on carts or shelves outside of the unit itself (this depends largely upon where they will be kept).
Once everything else is set up within
Food Trailer Outfitting Costs
The cost of outfitting your food trailer is another thing to consider. You’ll need a refrigerator, stovetop, oven, microwave, and dishwasher. If you don’t already have these appliances in your home kitchen or on your current property (if you rent), expect to shell out anywhere from $500 for a basic model up to $4K for high-end appliances depending on how many features they come with.
You can also buy pre-fabricated kits that include all the necessary equipment needed to outfit your food truck kitchen at one time rather than purchasing individual items as they become available; these kits range from under $100 up into the thousands depending on what level of quality and features you want included in them.
Small Food Trailer Cost
The cost to build a small food trailer is around $30,000. The cost for a small food trailer is about the same as a full-size trailer. The difference between these two types of trailers is that the size of one makes it easier or more difficult to operate than the other. A small food trailer is smaller than a full-size one and can be used for different purposes, such as serving lunch on campus or making deliveries in town. It’s also called a lunch truck because it’s designed to serve food quickly during your break time at work. If you want more information about what exactly goes into building one of these trucks (and we mean literally everything), check out our article on how much it costs
Used Food Trailer Cost
If you’re looking to get into the food trailer business, but don’t have the budget for a brand new food trailer, used food trailers are the way to go. Used food trailers are available for as little as $15,000 and can be either bought or leased from a leasing company.
If you’re looking to buy a used mobile kitchen unit, it’s important that you perform due diligence in order to ensure that what looks good on paper will actually work well in practice.
Food Truck vs Trailer
A food truck is a vehicle that serves food. It’s basically the same thing as a food trailer, except that it drives around instead of being pulled behind a car or truck.
Food trailers are cheaper to build than food trucks because they don’t need any kind of suspension system. Since they’re less complicated, you can also get one built for less money than you would have to spend on an actual truck with tires and suspension parts and stuff like that.
If your plan is just to park at festivals and events where people drive up in their cars anyway, then why not save yourself some cash by getting a small trailer? You could tow it around with your own vehicle (if it has enough horsepower), or pay someone else to tow it for you (like Uber).
Frame / Chassis
For the frame, you will need a tough steel structure to support your food trailer. This can be custom-built using a metal fabrication company or bought prebuilt from a dealer.
Flooring is a big part of your food trailer. The right flooring will help your customers and employees feel comfortable, safe, and secure while they’re visiting. For example, carpet is great for absorbing spills and stains but can be hard to clean if it gets dirty.
Here are some different types of flooring that you might want to consider:
- Ceramic tile – Very durable and easy to keep clean with little maintenance required. Consider using this type of tile if you plan on running a busy kitchen with lots of foot traffic at all times (like an airport restaurant). It’ll last longer than other types of flooring because it doesn’t absorb liquid or grease as much as some others do.
- Laminate wood – Looks like real wood but also doesn’t require much upkeep since it’s waterproofed so well by default; good choice for areas where food prep takes place regularly such as kitchens used daily by staff members who prepare meals for hungry customers waiting patiently outside the door.
Walls and Ceilings
Walls and ceilings are a major cost of building a food trailer.
If you’re building walls out of wood, expect to pay between $20 and $60 per linear foot. Cement board will run about $5 per square foot. In addition to these expenses, there’s also having to hire someone to do the work for you—which can tack on another $35 an hour or so. If the trailer has high ceilings (8 feet or more), it might be worth investing in expensive materials like tongue-and-groove hardwood flooring instead of cheap paneling—but if your ceiling is lower than 8 feet tall, then stick with standard plywood or OSB panels for less than half the price. You’ll need at least two sheets of 4×8′ material per panel; three would be better for strength and extra insulation capabilities.
- 1. How much electricity do you need? The first step in calculating your electrical system’s requirements is to determine exactly how much power you will need to run the trailer and its appliances. The general rule of thumb for calculating your power requirement is 1 amp per 100 watts of equipment load, so if your food trailer has 150 amps of power usage, then it would take approximately 10 miles per hour (15 km/h) wind speed over a 3 meter diameter outlet area to provide sufficient wind energy for all of your electrical needs.
- 2. Which type of system should I choose? There are two main types: grid-tie and off-grid. Grid-tie systems are connected directly back into the utility grid via an inverter and special wiring, while off-grid systems use batteries or other forms of renewable energy storage devices instead of being connected directly back into the utility grid via an inverter (in some cases).
A food trailer’s plumbing system is an important part of your business. It’s required to be safe, durable and reliable, so it must work with your trailer from the moment it opens for business until it shuts down at night. You may need to update your plumbing system if you decide to sell or rent out the trailer after owning it for a while.
The main parts of a food trailer’s plumbing system include water supply, waste disposal and drainage:
- Water supply—This provides clean water for drinking and cooking purposes. This can come in the form of tap water connected directly to the kitchen sink or bathroom faucet or via an outdoor hose connection (which allows you to fill up on fresh water before heading out).
- Waste disposal—Eliminates solid waste from toilets or other drains through pipes leading into septic tanks located outside of trailers (usually under them). These systems require maintenance; otherwise, they may get clogged with debris over time leading up to leaking pipes.
When it comes to refrigeration, there are many options. If you would like a mobile ice cream truck, then you will need a freezer or refrigerator of some kind. The type of refrigeration depends on how much space you have available for your unit and how long you plan to keep food on site.
If you’re looking for something simple and inexpensive, an electric chest freezer from Home Depot can be purchased for as little as $250 (depending on size). For those who want something with more capacity and power than a chest freezer but less than an industrial-sized model, there are many options in between these two ends of the spectrum. You could also consider adding additional storage space in the form of double-decker racks or coolers with wheels if they fit within your budget.
Getting your food trailer built will cost around $30,000 in total.
Depending on the size of your food trailer, what you want to do with it and how much you want to spend, getting your food trailer built will cost around $30,000 in total.
It might seem like a lot but when you consider the cost of buying an existing trailer and then having it renovated into something suitable for use as a food business; if you add up everything that needs to be done, it could easily run into tens of thousands of dollars. And we haven’t even mentioned the time involved in doing all that work.
The main factors that affect this figure are as follows:
- Where are you going to get an existing trailer from? If buying one ready-made (which is usually cheaper than building one yourself) then shipping costs may apply too.
- What do you want from your vehicle? Do you care about speed or fuel efficiency? The more features and comforts included such as air conditioning and climate control systems will increase costs too – although these are often optional extras anyway so don’t go overboard.
There are many factors that affect the cost of your food trailer.
The cost of a food trailer is dependent on what you want it to do and how long you’ll be in business. The costs can vary widely depending on the size and features of your trailer, as well as its location. Generally, the materials used and their quality will affect the price. For example, if you are building a large restaurant-style dining area with wooden floors and high ceilings, this will add significantly more cost than other options such as aluminum siding or vinyl flooring. The size of your kitchen space also plays an important role in determining how much it costs to build a food trailer – larger kitchens require more equipment which increases labor costs at various stages during construction (like plumbing).
The cost of building a food truck is much more than just the price of the shell. The design, plumbing, and electrical systems for example all play an important role in determining how much it will cost to build your dream business.