Van conversion: From a Parcelforce truck to a home – ‘never thought I’d want hot water’

Campervans: UK’s ‘Coolest Campers’ discuss van conversion

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Moving into a converted van is a lifestyle change for most people. With the popularity of “Van Life” soaring, many Britons have embraced vehicles as fantastic options, either for a holiday or to move in full time.

Charlie Glover’s move into Dave, his Parcelforce truck, was quick. He was living in his grandmother’s spare bedroom when he bought the truck back in 2018.

He said: “I wanted a decent sized vehicle. I knew it would be more home than anything. At the time I was working on the road, so I was in hotels, I was in an actual work truck, so I would only be home for a day here and there.”

Charlie chose his Parcelforce truck because it was cheap.

“The second you go above a certain weight threshold, vehicles become a lot cheaper, because most people don’t have the licenses to drive them. But I do have the license, so when Royal Mail got rid of an absolute load of vans in one go, they were dirt cheap. That’s why I got what I got, because of price basically.

“It’s well maintained, it’s well serviced, it’s got half a million miles on it but it doesn’t make any difference on something that’s been serviced every six weeks.”

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Almost immediately, he moved in.

He explained: “I moved in it four or five days into the build. The second I had the door on the side of it, it meant I could close the tail and sleep inside.

“I insulated one side, put the bed frame in, put the door in and slept in it.

“It was March, April, so it was cold, I had no heating… I wrapped insulation all around where I was sleeping and I just curled up into a ball.

“It was like camping, I suppose. I really enjoyed those first few weeks, months, where it was ever evolving because, when you’re living in it, the space changes.

“I never really thought I’d want hot water and then the first couple of times I had a cold shower… In theory it’s great, but when your water is in a tank outside and it’s minus five, you want hot water.”

The ever-evolving build of Charlie’s Parcelforce truck is not finished, he said, even after almost four years.

“It’s still not finished and at no point will it ever be finished. It’s the joy of it, it’s ever evolving.”

Over the years, the truck went from “a box” to a home, and while Charlie started off his build with as little money as possible, skip-diving, upcycling and getting things for free from friends, the conversion’s budget has ballooned.

Free items in the truck include a sound system salvaged from a nightclub, freshwater storage from beer kegs rescued from an old pub, a kitchen unit from a university showroom, with other bits of the kitchen being made from old pallets or coming from a friend.

One of the most unique features of the truck is its fake grass, which Charlie called his “infinity lawn”. The roll of fake grass came from one of Charlie’s skip-diving adventures.

“I love upcycling. I like free, you know, why pay for something if it’s free. And if it looks good already that’s half the work done.”

But “it changed through lockdown”.

“Initially I was only in it a couple of days a week, even one day a week, sometimes one day a month, so I wasn’t super fussed with having the best fridge in the world, with the best oven.”

Charlie spent lockdown in his truck, and realised he needed a few things to make it a home.

“I treated myself to a new fridge, a new oven. I upgraded my solar, because I realised living full time in the truck you want to make sure you never run out of stuff.”

Charlie’s truck and his conversion’s story is part of a new book, Vanlifers: Beautiful conversions for life on the road, which is out this month by The History Press.
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