Couple transform old British Gas van into cosy home on wheels for just £5k

Here’s some proof that you don’t need a lot of space for the perfect home.

Rather than saving up a massive deposit for a house, Laura Evans and Ed Knight set themselves a challenge: to turn a Caddy Maxi van into a liveable space.

The couple, both 27, purchased a van that was once used for workers of British Gas, then set about a DIY makeover.

Using repurposed materials, they added a kitchen, a bed, and even a skyliight roof with a square window.

Now, the van looks radically different – and the entire process took just four months and £5,000.

Laura, who is a shop assistant, said: ‘It took four months for us to rip everything out, insulate and convert it into a mini camper.

‘We wanted to challenge ourselves and be creative as the pandemic put a halt on our international travel plans.

‘The van was in excess of £7,000 and it cost £5,000 on the mechanical work and materials such as reclaimed wood for the panels, the bed frame and small cupboards.

‘We tried to cut costs as much as we can by purchasing stuff from Facebook marketplace such as Moroccan tiles for the kitchen.

‘But we bought the oven brand new to ensure it worked.’

Ed, who is a joiner, insulated the van and did most of the handy work while Laura focused on bargain hunting and interior.

The couple spent eight hours per day over eight weeks transforming the van into a living space.

All appliances, such as the oven with a hob, fridge with freezer, tap with an electric pump, LED lighting, 60l fresh water and full solar system including a leisure battery were brand new.

The stone sink was purchased from Facebook Marketplace but, frustratingly, was bigger than expected.

Thankfully, the couple were able to adapt their plans to make things work.

Laura adds: ‘The solution was to ‘sink’ our basin into the unit and let the countertop form around.

‘We love this finish and we believe it looks better than if we had just simply placed it on top.

‘Just like the kitchen doors, we used Scottish Elm for our countertops but kept the live edges and Eddy cleverly used a jigsaw to cut a waney edge to follow the curvy doors at the end of each unit.

‘Eddy made solid Elm shaker doors in the kitchen with close weave rattan panels which is a natural cane woven material.

‘It is a biodegradable material which looks amazing.’

While from the outside, the van looks like any other, inside it’s a cosy home for two – although the couple can’t stand up inside due to the low ceiling.

Ed said: ‘This is an adventure van – used for sleeping and eating.

‘It’s perfect for curling up in bed and watching a movie but it is built as an adventure van so not one for spending days inside.

‘We loved seeing people’s reaction when we have opened the door in a public place.

‘They always had to double-take – especially if they see us with a meal as you would never think there is a working kitchen in it.

‘We wanted to show others that you don’t need a massive van to make a home.

‘We still have our home comforts such as fluffy pillows and a comfy mattress but you can’t stand up.’

Once the van was complete, the duo went on to travel around Cornwall and the Isle of Skye.

But while it was a great DIY project, van life wasn’t the perfect fit for the couple – they went on to sell their creation at a profit.

Still, Ed and Laura hope to inspire others to give similar challenges a go.

‘It is much better to buy an ex-service van because it has been looking after and the mileage is good,’ said Ed.

‘With clever designs, you can do it cheaper – making it better in the long run.

‘Laura lost her job in events as a result of the pandemic in December 2020.

‘She began working part-time so this gave her something more to focus on.

‘We spent a total of £12,000 and made some profit when selling it on.’

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