WITH OUR 30TH birthdays coming soon, my partner Mike and I thought let’s take the leap in 2020 and finally do the campervan conversion we’d been dreaming of.

We started looking for a van properly in March – just as Covid-19 approached and lockdown hit. That was when everyone was looking for a van as staycations were becoming more popular and people started new delivery driving jobs – vans of all shapes and sizes soon became a rarity. After three months and hours scrolling through the internet we eventually found one – a Peugeot Boxer!

Holly researching vans on her laptop

Initial realisations…

• Garages will say they have ‘that van’ coming in next week – they do not.

• They say they will call you back – they will not.

• That advert you see online isn’t of the exact van you are enquiring about – they just can’t be bothered to update the ad!

So, what was ‘the plan’…

The plan was to design a van that allows us to cook, work and sleep inside during all seasons. We therefore needed a long wheel base. Our ideal choice was a Fiat Ducato, followed by a Peugeot Boxer then Citroen Relay. In that order. However we couldn’t get hold of a Ducato within our budget. We found a 2016 Boxer with 68k miles on the clock and everything in working order and it was within a two hour drive. Result.

Hours and hours of research went into finding the van, looking at layouts and designing what would work best for us. Mike being 6ft 2in meant the bed (we’d gone for the Dreamcatcher Airbed from Outwell) had to be lengthways, therefore taking up valuable ‘lounge’ room. But we came up with a design with a retractable dining / work table and extendable seat storage, and then we just hoped our drawings worked in reality.

Once the van was on the drive we could get to work. The first step was to make the holes in the outer metal work. Luckily, if you remember, the weather back in June was beautiful, but I am now writing, with a cup of tea by the fire listening to the wind and rain outside. It feels like a long time since seeing the sun, but that’s the British seasons for you I suppose.


The windows are fitted
And so is the roof vent

About us…

We are not carpenters, or do this sort of work for a job, but we both have the creativity and now what we realise is perseverance to go ahead and create our new mini home on wheels. Mike has always worked in the outdoors and is passionate about getting kids and families out exploring the natural world. Then, I, Holly, helped build Julia Bradbury’s website The Outdoor Guide which aims to get people out walking and into green spaces. So not only do we love going outside playing in the mountains, or on the rivers, but we share values with work too.

Holly and Mike

The build…

If you are looking to do the build yourselves, it helps to have a budget in mind. I would say if you have a LWB and are looking to have gas for an oven and hob, along with solar for plug sockets, lights and a fridge then a budget of around £8K should allow for this. It also helps to have family members and friends who have the tools and expertise you need, otherwise your budget goes out the window before you’ve even put your first screw in!

Working on the van

Pinterest and Instagram have been great inspiration for our build. However you have to remember social media is not ‘real’. Each photo has been staged and the vans have been cleaned especially for that one ‘wow’ photograph. But it has helped us open our minds to new ideas, and layouts which we might not have thought of before.

The van is not complete yet, but we are nearly there, aiming to move into it before Christmas.

Nearly finished

We know we have made errors along the way, but that is why we have written the blog, so others can see what we have done, find out what not to do and to hopefully enjoy the process as we are.

To follow the journey for weekly updates visit: https://hollybrega.com/2020/08/21/the-diy-vanlife-adventure/

You’re in Hall 6 Advice Lounge & Event Theatre at Van Live! See what else is happening on stage, or take me to the Show Guide.