I'm Stephen

I've wanted to convert a van into a motorhome for more than 20 years now. I'm a carpenter and builder, and I've always thought it would be fun to use one of my work vans when they were ready to be replaced. After a very busy first 9 months of 2010, I had a bit of spare cash and some time so I thought I'd give it a go.

I wasn't going to use my work van because it's doing just fine as it is and refitting a new one wasn't what I wanted. Once I'd decided I was going to buy a van especially for the conversion, I had to decide on one. Initially I thought about using a welfare bus or large van/truck like a Mercedes Vario. However, the more I looked into it, the more I realised that if I was going to do this properly, it was going to be expensive and it was probably wise to be a bit conformist.

I bought a Fiat Ducato LWB Maxi. It's one of the most popular vans for professional converters; it was built with motorhome industry in mind. It wasn't a deliberate choice, I just went to an auction and it was the most suitable van on sale. That makes it sound like I picked it deliberately; in fact everything in the sale was fetching far more than I'd expected and I was about to go home. I guess everyone must have spent up because there were much worse vans sold for a lot more. I got it for quite a bit less than my top limit so I was quite happy.

The trouble when you buy a better van than you were expecting to is that you then have to do it out to a better standard than you were planning. That means spending more money. Instead of using second hand bits, I was now looking at using all brand-new stuff; and everything motorhome related is much more expensive than the equivalent item for domestic use, typically at least four time as much.

So, it was out with the wood burner and the crooked chimney. Out went the solar water heater, and out went the faux grass carpet and flower-power decals. This was going to be a serious motorhome.

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