Hello, we are Brad & Court!
We are from Jersey, Channel Islands and over the last 4 years we have been trying to escape the rock as much as possible to see what the world has to offer.
When lockdown struck Jersey in March 2020, we started to get itchy feet and Brad dreamt up the idea of converting our own van into a holiday home on wheels. After a fair bit of convincing, I finally gave in and so in July 2020 we brought our refrigerator Crafter van! This was an old Collette Foodservice van (a local food catering company) hence the name ‘Colly’.
However, this wasn’t going to be an easy task because neither of us had ever used a power tool before! Some called us crazy but we knew we wanted to make this dream a reality and with time on our side (and a LOT of YouTube videos for guidance) we got cracking. The whole conversion has taken around 7 and a half months - we both have full-time jobs so had to make time for Colly around this! In hindsight, we could have done this quicker but it’s not like we needed to rush. Also, we had some delays with supplies (due to lockdown) and living in Jersey means shipping takes longer and sometimes isn’t possible but we finally got there and are so happy with the result - it really is everything we hoped for and more. Check out our instagram page @collythecrafter where we documented the conversion process.
Colly is a 2013 Volkswagen Crafter van that had driven around 50,000 miles when we purchased her. At the time of buying, it was full of fibreglass, thick (mouldy) insulation and had a fridge on the roof! We had few layouts in mind - like having a fixed bed or including a shower - but we finally opted for the dinette layout. This gives us plenty of storage space and enough room for hosting family and friends. After converting the van, it now includes:
Large living/dining area that also becomes a king sized bed
Two front seats with the passenger on a swivel base
300W Solar panel
Large window on the sliding door
Small cabin window above the living/bed area
2 burner camping stove
Large kitchen sink with extendable faucet and water filter
Maxxair roof fan
2x 110ah AGM deep cycle leisure batteries
Split charge relay
Onboard 50l fresh water tank
Onboard 25l grey water tank
Storage for two inflatable SUP’s
Total Build Cost:
In total, the build cost us just over £10,500. Here is a general breakdown of costs:
Insulation: £230 - there are many different ways to insulate your van however, the easiest way for us was to use Kingspan insulation boards. We used 25mm on the floor and ceiling and 50mm in the large cavities on the side. Along with this, we used recycled loft insulation in the smaller cavities in the van.
Electrics: £1,220 - This includes everything from our solar panel on the roof to the 2 leisure batteries in the back of the van, our MPPT charge controller, cables, fuses, lights etc. We would definitely recommend watching Greg Virgoe on YouTube for electrics, we would have struggled so much if it wasn’t for him!
Windows: £320 - We opted for only two windows in the van for two reasons: stealth and efficiency. With too many windows, we thought the van might be too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter!
Plumbing: £450 - Our plumbing system is fairly simple - we have a 50l fresh water tank inside the van with 12mm John Guest fittings to our water pump and accumulator all the way up to our kitchen sink. We then have a small 25l grey water tank under the sink that can easily be removed to empty and clean.
Materials: £940 - This covers everything from plywood, cladding, paint, door handles, vinyl flooring, kitchen worktops etc. Basically what we spent in B&Q…
Extras: £1,580 - Our extras sections covers everything else for example our fridge, cushions & covers, camping stove, curtains and everything else!
Well, as lockdown across Europe is still very much in place we aren’t too sure when we are going to get away and where we plan on going first. We are incredibly lucky to live on such a beautiful island where we are spoilt for choice with picturesque spots to enjoy. In the immediate future, we will spend our evening by the beach with the back doors open and a BBQ on the go and in the (hopefully) not so distant future we will be driving around Italy or Switzerland and making the most of being able to safely travel again.
Thanks for reading about Colly - we hope you love her as much as we do!
If you have any further questions, please drop us a message on Instagram! - @collythecrafter