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gibbon

Living in a van

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Came across this video and it renewed my interest in converting a van to live in. Made me think again how im just blowing the lions share of my money to rent a shit little flat. Very least it would be fun for a few years. Looks they've got a good setup in that video, decent bird too. All that's missing is some solar panels, a chemical toilet and a foldable bicycle to stick in the back.

 

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I'm taking the same route and already have the van - a 2013 Citroen Relay HDi H2L3, which I will be setting about converting just as soon as my current work contract is out of the way - hopefully early next week.

I purchased the Citroen last February on Gumtree but have hung back from starting the conversion until the weather improved and I have a work-free period because I want to document the whole process in detail, possibly with the view of making it available as an e-book. All I've done so far is fix some minor cosmetic issues, get it serviced, MOTed and insured (as a conversion project) and collect together some materials for insulation and internal furnishings. It's parked on the public road, which has been surprisingly hassle-free although I do move it fairly regularly between parking spots. 

My context is that I'm about to quit my current abode (a 4-bed detached house) due to divorce and want to have a fallback option should it take time to set myself up with new lodging - either purchase or rental. I already rent a garage independent of my house which should be capable of storing all of the possessions I wish to keep following a de-clutter. Necessity aside however, I've always fancied escaping the mortgage/ rent trap via some kind of alternative accommodation, be it a van, cabin in the woods, tent on somebody's roof, boat or basically whatever would relieve me of the necessity to work, as I consider myself "Homo Ludens" (not Laborens). 

How far have you got in your planning?

Edited by Turned Out Nice Again

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1 hour ago, Turned Out Nice Again said:

I'm taking the same route and already have the van - a 2013 Citroen Relay HDi H2L3, which I will be setting about converting just as soon as my current work contract is out of the way - hopefully early next week.

I purchased the Citroen last February on Gumtree but have hung back from starting the conversion until the weather improved and I have a work-free period because I want to document the whole process in detail, possibly with the view of making it available as an e-book. All I've done so far is fix some minor cosmetic issues, get it serviced, MOTed and insured (as a conversion project) and collect together some materials for insulation and internal furnishings. It's parked on the public road, which has been surprisingly hassle-free although I do move it fairly regularly between parking spots. 

My context is that I'm about to quit my current abode (a 4-bed detached house) due to divorce and want to have a fallback option should it take time to set myself up with new lodging - either purchase or rental. I already rent a garage independent of my house which should be capable of storing all of the possessions I wish to keep following a de-clutter. Necessity aside however, I've always fancied escaping the mortgage/ rent trap via some kind of alternative accommodation, be it a van, cabin in the woods, tent on somebody's roof, boat or basically whatever would relieve me of the necessity to work, as I consider myself "Homo Ludens" (not Laborens). 

How far have you got in your planning?

You're further ahead of me (divorce), unless MrsLTS pulls the rug from under me I'm looking at getting out in *3-5 years and she can keep the house. I'll take her for a chunk of her pension instead and a van conversion will do me fine. I'll work like a dog for 8 months and spend my summers travelling and gliding around Europe. Better to do that with money in the bank than having it sitting in some landlords account. afterall renting is dead money lol

I have no interest in home ownership for the reasons mentioned on other topics. In 10-20 years the UK will be a very different prospect and being a transient hobo suits me. 

*I need to divorce before my mum shuffles off this mortal coil as I'm anticipating an inheritance of £150-250k can't wait (that's nothing I haven't already said to mother :D

Edited by longtomsilver

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6 hours ago, gibbon said:

Came across this video and it renewed my interest in converting a van to live in. Made me think again how im just blowing the lions share of my money to rent a shit little flat. Very least it would be fun for a few years. Looks they've got a good setup in that video, decent bird too. All that's missing is some solar panels, a chemical toilet and a foldable bicycle to stick in the back.

 

Do you think she uses it to abduct young men walking on their own, at night, then molest them in the back?

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Looking forward to watching the videos.

A workmate (another dept but I knew him to chat to) spent three or four years living in a old camper van rather than a conversion and saved up his house deposit so he could relocate and buy there.

Rent & council tax savings I guess £600 a month so £600 x 48 = £28,800.  Not bad at all.  He used to wild camp and move around a bit, knew all the places. Had parents' house as a base but AFAIK that was extreme cold weather and Christmas only.

Late twenties / early thirties, took a job he didn't particularly want to do and saved like mad.  We were all impressed.

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3 hours ago, Turned Out Nice Again said:

I'm taking the same route and already have the van - a 2013 Citroen Relay HDi H2L3, which I will be setting about converting just as soon as my current work contract is out of the way - hopefully early next week.

I purchased the Citroen last February on Gumtree but have hung back from starting the conversion until the weather improved and I have a work-free period because I want to document the whole process in detail, possibly with the view of making it available as an e-book. All I've done so far is fix some minor cosmetic issues, get it serviced, MOTed and insured (as a conversion project) and collect together some materials for insulation and internal furnishings. It's parked on the public road, which has been surprisingly hassle-free although I do move it fairly regularly between parking spots. 

What type of layout are you going for? Wood burner?

I only got as far as planning on paper and a 3D model last year, was going to base it on a Luton. Couldn't really make any more progress as needed to close my business down which was cementing me to one spot, which I finally did last Nov, took a few months to deal with the fall out and have been building some web apps since. Once I get a modest income sorted hopefully get the ball rolling based around a panel van.

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2 hours ago, Economic Exile said:

Really like that one. Could live in that no trouble at all. Wish I had the skills to do my own conversion to something like that 🙁

He's got a vlog on each step of the build for that van. Only tricky bit looks like cutting out the window. I'm sure you could do it

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10 minutes ago, gibbon said:

What type of layout are you going for? Wood burner?

I only got as far as planning on paper and a 3D model last year, was going to base it on a Luton. Couldn't really make any more progress as needed to close my business down which was cementing me to one spot, which I finally did last Nov, took a few months to deal with the fall out and have been building some web apps since. Once I get a modest income sorted hopefully get the ball rolling based around a panel van.

A tip on wood burners ,is make/buy one that has an combustion air tube/duct it makes a massive difference ,i had a normal wood burner in a converted bus and it was crap as when you start  using the air from within the vehicle for combustion you just end up drawing in cold air from out side  

Edited by Long time lurking

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34 minutes ago, gibbon said:

What type of layout are you going for? Wood burner?

I only got as far as planning on paper and a 3D model last year, was going to base it on a Luton. Couldn't really make any more progress as needed to close my business down which was cementing me to one spot, which I finally did last Nov, took a few months to deal with the fall out and have been building some web apps since. Once I get a modest income sorted hopefully get the ball rolling based around a panel van.

No, I'm planning to install a propane heater if the insulation doesn't cut it. My #1 priority is stealth as I want to be able to park it anywhere and that means no side windows or anything that detracts from it looking like a bog-standard white van; so no chimney obviously.

I am planning a roof skylight (doubling as escape hatch) and a hole in the floor for ventilation and sink drainage. No kitchen, shower or fixed toilet - just a sink unit and porta-potty + curtain;  plenty of lockers + a wardrobe for clothes (often overlooked), work/ sitting space; fixed beds (cross-ways bunks at the back) above a garage/ lock-up for the Brompton bike + valuables; 12v electrics off a leisure battery + 240v hook-up, possibly a small genny - undecided on solar (might be a waste of effort in this climate).

Edited by Turned Out Nice Again

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13 minutes ago, Turned Out Nice Again said:

No, I'm planning to install a propane heater if the insulation doesn't cut it. My #1 priority is stealth as I want to be able to park it anywhere and that means no side windows or anything that detracts from it looking like a bog-standard white van; so no chimney obviously.

I am planning a roof skylight (doubling as escape hatch) and a hole in the floor for ventilation and sink drainage. No kitchen, shower or fixed toilet - just a sink unit and porta-potty + curtain;  plenty of lockers + a wardrobe for clothes (often overlooked), work/ sitting space; fixed beds (cross-ways bunks at the back) above a garage/ lock-up for the Brompton bike + valuables; 12v electrics off a leisure battery + 240v hook-up, possibly a small genny - undecided on solar (might be a waste of effort in this climate).

Insulation alone won't be enough - unless summer only.

I'm considering a Propex.

 

 

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32 minutes ago, Turned Out Nice Again said:

No, I'm planning to install a propane heater if the insulation doesn't cut it.

always folk dying out here in the Alps in the winter when they get CO poisoning in their vans from the heaters, I'd be careful.

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3 minutes ago, Turned Out Nice Again said:

Point well taken. I'd be doubling up on the gas detectors. And it's one thing I wouldn't attempt to install myself.

Better to not have gas inside at all really - hence solution like Propex, separate external heater and tank, isolated air/heat path which should be very safe.

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I would go for a webasto or eberspacher diesel burner that's what all lorries with sleeper cabs have for night heating. You can get larger ones designed for canal boats that will heat hot water too. I would also consider a 12v powered small hot water hand wash sink, I get quite a bit of use from mine in the back of the car.

I have to watch projects like these as I just keep adding and adding which is the reason my boat's not finished. I would probably also add either some sort of air suspension or even better 12v dc powered actuator rams, to the underside of the vehicle to level it up when parked. There'd be no real need to raise the vehicle so the wheels came off the ground, just so they were touching but if it lifted the suspension it would mean the vehicle wouldn't wobble when you moved around inside, if you wanted to be stealth.

I would avoid the stealth a bit by putting a livery and light bar to make it look externally as a wide load escort vehicle. These do in fact have living quarters in as they park up with the lorry they are escorting each night so probably wouldn't get plod knocking on the window like Mr Renting had.

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2 minutes ago, Turned Out Nice Again said:

Yes, that's what I was thinking of.

Better for moisture too apparently, no combustion gases issues at all. Must quieter than diesel burners so fits the stealth requirement as far as possible, Not cheap but careful expenditure elsewhere not ruinous and transforms the usage even for me potentially.

3 minutes ago, SNACR said:

 

I would avoid the stealth a bit by putting a livery and light bar to make it look externally as a wide load escort vehicle. These do in fact have living quarters in as they park up with the lorry they are escorting each night so probably wouldn't get plod knocking on the window like Mr Renting had.

Crafty!

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They don't bother on trucks but you can get silencers for the exhausts on diesel burners. There's not too much smoke on start-up unless there's water in the diesel or the unit needs a service. You could possible install a 12v fan in the vicinity of the exhaust outlet to rapidly disperse any smoke on start up. Using a fuel you've got onboard already is a big plus.

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1 hour ago, gibbon said:

He's got a vlog on each step of the build for that van. Only tricky bit looks like cutting out the window. I'm sure you could do it

Thank you for your confidence in me but my diy skills are very limited. Burd!

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21 minutes ago, SNACR said:

I would go for a webasto or eberspacher diesel burner that's what all lorries with sleeper cabs have for night heating.

I think my van has an eberspacher but it doesn't work. Never got round to getting someone to have a look at it. Not sure who would fix them?

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6 minutes ago, Economic Exile said:

I think my van has an eberspacher but it doesn't work. Never got round to getting someone to have a look at it. Not sure who would fix them?

Try and match it to one of these, at this link, and have a look at the manual and see if you can get any signs of life. If it's dead probably the fuse but often the fuse will go because of another fault. All my trucks have always had Webasto so not very familiar with Eberspacher but will be a similar principle, most common fault is the glowplug failing. 

https://www.butlertechnik.com/technical_library/air-heaters-d4

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