Concerned about whether you have the requisite skills to convert a van from scratch? Fear not, everything you need is right here.
About Cazzy and Bradley
For the last 5 years, Cazzy and Bradley have been living the dream backpacking around the world. Unfortunately, like a lot of fellow nomads, the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to return to their home country, the UK.
With time on their side, they decided to purchase and convert a van from scratch. The pair have always been drawn to vanlife – they longed for a place of their own to call home but they don’t have the money for a fixed dwelling house. They love having the freedom and flexibility to wake up in different locations every day.
To make light of a bad situation, Cazzy and Bradley purchased a 435 LWB L3 H2 van. Despite having no prior knowledge or experience, they renovated it from top to bottom in just three months with the help of my guide and the wider van life community.
Follow Cazzy and Bradley on Instagram: @dreambigtravelfar
- Peugeot Boxer 435 Long Wheel Base L3 H2– They chose this model as it comes with a built-in Satnav and cruise-control.
Kitchen and Appliances
- Magnetic knife rack
- Kitchen roll holder
- Espresso machine– Cazzy is a self-confessed coffee fiend, so she has a whole cupboard in the van just for coffee. Some people may argue that this is a poor use of space, but this was one of Cazzy’s non-negotiables.
- 80-litre fridge– Originally this was going to sit alongside everything else in the kitchen, but instead it’s slotted underneath their bed. At 80 litres, it’s one of the biggest fridges you can get for a campervan. They find that it holds approximately 1 week’s worth of food.
- Fixed, raised double bed– Bradley is 5’8 and still has plenty of room. Their mattress is from Evo and is approximately 4 inches thick.
- Foldable ledge– If Cazzy is working from bed, she wanted somewhere to rest her coffee mug, so they built a small fold-down ledge.
- Reading lights– One at each side of the bed.
- USB ports– For charging phones.
- Second double bed– This is situated in the middle of the van opposite the kitchen. The bed is built using the tabletop as a base. Cushions scattered around the van are used to form the mattress.
- Their bathroom is a 58cm x 58cm square.
- Shower– Since Cazzy and Bradley live in their van full-time, one of the things they wanted was a proper shower. During their research, the pair saw lots of videos of people showering outdoors, which is fine if you’re in a warm country. But when you’re in freezing cold Scotland, for example, the last thing you want to do is head outside and get naked.
- Thetford 365 porta potty.
- Towel rack.
- PVC tiles– They bought this from DBS Bathrooms.
- World map shower curtain.
- 2 x extra passenger seats– Cazzy and Bradley dreamt of having a van big enough to fit 4 people. This would allow them to bring 2 extra friends or family members with them as they travel the world. To accommodate this, they installed 2 additional seats into the back of their van. The seats are second-hand and originally came from a Ford Transit minibus.
Power and Electrical
- Control panel– For easy access, the controls for the pairs’ entire electrical system are conveniently located next to the bedroom area.
- Carbon monoxide alarm– A safety essential.
- Inverter remote– This is used to switch their 240-volt system on.
- Standard household plug sockets
- Light switches– They have one switch for the bedroom area and one switch for the kitchen area.
- 25-litre underslung gas tank– Cazzy and Bradley recently switched to a 25 litre underslung gas tank which is affixed underneath the chassis of the van. They bought it from Auto Gas 2000.
- Fill point– One of the benefits of the new gas set-up is that it comes with an external fill point. This means Cazzy and Bradley can fill up from almost all petrol stations in the UK and Europe, providing they sell LPG gas.
- 2 x Xplorer 220 amp hour AGM batteries– Each battery weighs around 70 kilos. As Cazzy and Bradley both work remotely, they need a lot of electricity in their van to charge phones, laptops, drones etc. This is why they chose to purchase and fit two batteries.
- 1500-watt inverter– This converts 12v to 240v, which allows use of the plug sockets in the front of the van
- 60-amp battery to battery sterlingcharger– When the van is in motion, this device charges the starter battery, which in turn charges the main batteries.
- Solar panels– At the front of the van they have the Maxx Air fan and at the back of the van they have the skylight. So they bought 3 solar panels to fit in the roof space between. It comes with a control panel that shows how much charge they have and how much power they’re currently generating.
- Hookup point– This allows the batteries to be charged via an external source.
Heating and Cooling
- Maxx Air Fan– The cool thing about the Maxx Air fan is that it can either suck air out or draw air in. This helps to keep the van nice and cool during hot summer weather. As well as this, it also serves as an extractor fan by sucking out steam and smoke from cooking.
- Air heater– The outlet vent for this is located underneath the oven, which means it’s perfect for warming cold feet up.
- 2 x small porthole windows– Located on the back double doors.
- 1 x large side window– The addition of a window was one of the first changes the couple made to the van. As complete amateurs, they found it very nerve-wracking cutting a hole into the frame of their van. Luckily, it all went smoothly.
- Skylight– This is situated over the fixed double bed. It is big enough for them to pop their heads out or lay in bed and watch the stars.
- Malaga 5E water heater – This provides hot water to both the kitchen sink and bathroom shower. The cold water goes in and it takes approximately 20 minutes to heat up.
- 70-litre Fiamma water tank– Cazzy and Bradley purchased this after reading my guide. It’s handy because it can be positioned vertically or horizontally depending on what suits you best.
- Water pump
- Accumulator– The accumulator stops the water from sputtering and creates a nice smooth flow.
Cabinetry and Finishes
- White overhead cabinets
- Parcel shelf– They use this to store bulkier items such as spare quilts for the second bed.
- Thermal curtains– These are draped across the large side window and the front cabin. They help to retain heat, which is perfect when touring colder climates.
- Swivel seats– As it stands, the van contains 3 inter-connected seats in the driver’s cabin. However, Cazzy and Bradley intend to replace these with two individual swivel seats. This would allow them to walk from the front to the back of the van without having to go outside.