When you’re converting a van from scratch, the sky is the limit. There’s truly no better example of this than Dietlind’s Citroen Relay L3 H3 conversion. Keep reading to discover how she managed to fit a fixed bed, 2 fixed seats, a full-length wardrobe, and separate bathroom into a 3705mm x 1870mm x 2172mm van.
Between 2009 and 2019, Dietlind worked at sea repairing and maintaining luxury yachts. However, a series of big life events culminated in her realising that this was no longer her true passion. So she quit her job and bought a second hand 2015 Citroen Relay L3 H3 van.
Dietlind wanted to reinvent her life, and she believed that living off-grid in a converted van was the best way to achieve this. Her lifestyle now revolves around her passions of surfing, art, and photography.
Impressively, Dietlind built her van single-handedly over the course of 6 months. The only element she had external help with was the electrics. Her concept was to build an ergonomic, spacious, yet comfortable van that she could live and work from. The finished van is built to an extremely high standard, Dietlind’s attention to detail is impeccable.
Initially, Dietlind built the van with the intention of it being her own home-on-wheels. She planned to use the van whilst travelling around Europe. However, she’s since decided that she wants to explore Africa. For this, she thinks a 4 x 4 van with less insulation would be more suitable. So with this in mind, Dietlind’s van is now up for sale! Check out her website for more details.
- 2015 Citroen Relay L3 H3 van.
- Triple leaf springs at the rear – These Citroen vans are not made for constant loads, so their back leaf springs tend to flatten out easily. To ameliorate this, Dietlind replaced the single leaf springs with triple leaf springs. This provides extra support at the back of the van where the fixed bed and heavy water tanks are.
- All-terrain tyres.
- Reversing camera and screen.
Kitchen and Appliances
- 2-ring gas hob.
- Porcelain sink and tap – In retrospect she wishes she’d have chosen something lighter.
- 12v fridge-freezer – Dietlind notes that this is small but it’s enough for her fresh produce.
- Ikea collapsible chopping board – This is held up by a chain that attaches to the ceiling. It provides extra work space for cooking.
- Magnetic strip for utensils.
- Fixed double bed – memory foam and latex combo mattress worth £300. She opted for a fixed bed because she didn’t want to have to build her bed after a long day of surfing.
- 2 x built-in shelves.
- 2 x shower heads – There’s one main shower head located near the roof. Lower down there is a smaller, handheld showerhead.
- Mixer tap.
- Thetford Porta Potti – This is a chemical toilet.
- Marine ply walls – These have been treated with tanking membrane, flexible tile adhesive, and finished with a rubberised swimming pool paint. This ensures that the bathroom wont crack or break when exposed to bumps and jolts while driving.
Power and Electrical
- 3 x 100W Renergy solar panels – Dietlind says these provide more than enough juice for her daily needs. Energy comes from the solar panels, down into the solar charge converter, to the inverter, battery, to the split charge relay.
- 200-amp hour Leisure battery – this is connected via split charge relay to the alternator.
- Heavy duty pure sine wave Inverter – This is used to charge and use camera equipment, laptops and other electricals.
- 12v USB ports – These are located in the bedroom, making them ideal for charging phones.
- Gas locker with 12v gas alarm and drop vent – This feeds into the cooker and water heater.
- Control panel for the Maxx air fan, Imass water heater, solar panels, Chinese diesel heater, freshwater, and greywater tanks – The control panels are used to signify if everything is working correctly, their current usage levels etc.
- Touch sensitive LEDs.
- LED strips– Perfect mood lighting on either side of the bed.
Heating and Cooling
- 5KW diesel heater – This feeds directly from the main diesel tank. Even during the cold winter months this performs well and keeps the van warm. One of the outlets is under the fixed seats, which is great for warming your feet up.
- Maxx Air fan.
- Imass gas water heater – Costing £800, this is the most expensive piece of kit in the van. It is a tankless, propane gas water heater measuring 32cm by 32cm. It provides instantaneous hot water.
- All windows open and the small vent windows have mosquito nets.
- 220L fresh water tank.
- 70L grey water tank.
- Sure Flow water pump and accumulator.
Cabinetry and Finishes
- Rope edges – Rope goes all the way around the joint between the walls and ceiling. This helps to make everything look neater.
- White wash walls – All wood is painted with white and then sanded down to create a washed out effect.
- Tongue and groove cladding – spruce and treated with oil, and partially painted.
- Doors are cladded and sealed with SikaFlex to keep them dry.
- Raised floor (bilge) – 15cm of underfloor storage. One of the reasons Dietlind chose a H3 van was the high roof. She wanted enough headroom to create under floor storage. There are two access hatches, one at the front and one at the back of the van.
- Full length wardrobe.
- 2 x fixed seats – With storage underneath.
- 1 x pull out table – Slides out from under the bed. It’s tracks can handle 60kg.
- 7 rung ladder – This creates easy access to the roof should anything go wrong with the solar panels or Maxx air fan.
- Garage storing space
Safety and Security
- Emergency shut off switch for all electrics.
- Carbon monoxide detector.
- Fire extinguisher.
- Fire blanket.
- Heavy duty locks on sliding and back door
- Dedicated surfboard storage – This goes all the way through the van under the bed, seats, and closet. It’s wide enough for 2 surfboards.
- Hidden safe vault – This is located in an inconspicuous location under the floor. It’s fixed to the chassis of the van so it cannot be removed.
Check out the full van tour on my YouTube: