We hadn't planned to refit Florence when we started, it was something we wanted to do, one day when we could afford it. But Florence needed welding, it couldn't wait, she was rotting away and wouldn't last another season. Due to fire risk we had to remove the interior fittings, if you've ever tried to disassemble old Melamine furniture, you will know once it comes apart it is never going back together again. So we resigned ourselves to the fact, if we wanted Florence on the road for the Summer, we had no choice but to rebuild everything from scratch ourselves, the only problem, we really didn't have any spare money! We had to do this as cheap as possible, use all of our skills to source everything at the lowest possible price. What we did have was the original electrics and water tank, this obviously saved a lot of money and labour costs. Our daughter was due to go away on a school trip for a week on June 11th, that would be a rare opportunity to have a whole week away, by the time she came home from the welder, we had just 6 weeks left to get her completely finished in time for this deadline!
Before and after the interior was removed, it was hard to believe we would ever get her finished at this point!
The following breakdown of our expenditures do not take into account the cost of tools used. We had some of ours already, others we sourced as cheap as possible, you may be able to borrow the tools or have friend/family member who can get you access to a workshop? These are the tools we used for our van conversion>>
- Chop Saw (cutting mitre joints for frames)
- Jig Saw (cutting corners and the sink hole)
- Cordless Screwdriver
- Hammer hand Drill (drilling metal pilot holes)
- Palm Sander Orbital Sander
- Basic hand tools
- Sewing Machine
- Paint Brushes
The theme for our wood started with the worktop, a solid oak worktop we found for a bargain price on eBay. The first piece of furniture made was the overbed lockers, Scott commissioned the local wood recycling centre to copy the existing locker, paying £100, which seemed a good price, what we received was poor workmanship, Scott realised he could have made these himself after all and so he improved these and set to making the rest of the furniture himself. Without the labour you can see he only had to spend £50 on wood for the rest of the rustic furniture from the wood recycling centre, a massive saving! The bed frame used new pine wood, bought from a DIY shop, as he needed wood of matching length and strength for this job. Our favourite wood is the old carpenters box, we bought this from a flea market in Aberystwyth and repurposed it cutting it in to sections to create a kilner jar storage box, a cutlery drawer, a box shelf we use as a herb garden and a map shelf, nothing was wasted even keeping the original handle. We bought super cheap tongue and groove from Wickes, which was lightweight and very thin, easy to fit, perfect for our needs. With only a small floor area, we were able to pick a laminate flooring we loved, only needing one pack, it was our last thing that we fitted and transformed the space.
|Timber||Oak Kitchen worktop – Reclaimed offcut||£40|
|Cherry Kitchen worktop extension – Reclaimed offcut||£10|
|Lockers above bed – Reclaimed timber and Labour by local wood recycling centre||£100|
|Reclaimed timber from recycling centre used in: over cab locker, under bed cupboard doors, kitchen cupboard door, dining table||£50|
|New pine timber for bed frame||£60|
|Timber strips for blinds||£20|
|Tongue and groove||£40|
|Old carpenters box, bought from a flea market, used for box shelves||£23|
|Small wooden crates, bought from a reclamation yard||£5|
So one thing we learned during our refit - Fabric is expensive! We had to do some work arounds to bring the cost down. We started with an ex fabric sample book that we bought in a designer fabric store, this contained sheets of gorgeous A3 upholstery fabric, we could never have afforded off the roll, we used this in the headboard and the cab seats upholstery. Whilst it looked great, a word of warning on this project idea, it's a lot of work! There are sticky plastic borders stitched onto the back, which I had to iron to remove, it was a sticky mess and didn't always work, it took ages! Then all the fabric had to be stitched together patchwork style, it added hours of labour time, I love it now it's finished, I wouldn't like to do it again lol We bought some end of roll fabric at a third of the original price from Dun-Elm, it wasn't exactly what we wanted but a compromise due to the price. I wanted to use Linen, but who knew it was so expensive, my solution, Dunelm had a sale on linen tablecloths, I bought those and stitched them together!
|Textiles||Sample book of upholstery fabric, used in cab chairs||£20|
|Stripy fabric used in curtains and blinds 6.5metres (end of roll £2.99 a metre)||£19|
|Linen fabric used in curtains and blinds, made from 3 tablecloths, which were on sale||£24.50|
|Stripe upholstery fabric||£30|
|Linen for cushions||£20|
|Cord for blinds||£5|
|Velcro – used to attach blinds||£10|
|2x Large pillow blanks||£18|
|Foam for bench seat||£8|
We discovered after buying our first pots of silk wood paint and varnish, there are paint recycling centres with these materials at a fraction of the shop price, so we started expensive and then got the rest cheap. Tiles are also more expensive than we realised, due to the windows being curved, we went with mosaic as we could work around the frame easier. There were end of line cheaper tiles available if curves are not an issue, which would save a few pounds. Carpet on the walls is something I wanted to avoid, but Scott made me realise in certain places its very difficult to find any other solution, I couldn't find one! It was inexpensive on Ebay.
|Decorating||Silk White wood paint||£18|
|Medium oak wood varnish||£32|
|Border Tiles behind kitchen x 6||£22|
|Carpet for walls||£30|
The Tap was really simple to make using push fit plumbing supplies, normally used under the sink. Scott bought one of those huge tubs of screws, thinking he would have loads left, he used all of these and way more! We found that shops like B&Q are very expensive for screws, we had a smaller local shop called Nuts and Bolts where we were able to save a good few quid, so look out for that kind of shop in your area. We used the silver bubble insulation to save space, bought on eBay, easy to put up. The LED lights were using the Ikea 12v LED light hack we bought these on eBay for cheaper than Ikea itself. I was able to blag a free mattress after working on a mattress advert film shoot, always ask when you need something, the answer might just be yes! The Flavel B600 cooker was an eBay purchase, it was so cute we just had to have it, it's performed really well and has opened up a whole world of cooking options, Scott found the original instructions too, which is useful as there's no temperature gauge. The sink was our ultimate bargain carboot sale find, we were going to carboot sales every weekend during our renovation, on the lookout for useful van things.
|Other||Parts for Tap||£12|
|Sanding discs for woodwork||£16|
|No More nails and wood glue||£9|
|Insulation and Glue||£50|
|LED Lights and wiring||£30|
|Plug socket with USB ports||£6|
|Memory foam Mattress – Donated to us||£0|
Total Expenditure £1000
And we made our 6 week deadline of June 11th, early starts, late nights, hard work. Tired and weary, we set off at 10pm towards our destination. We had a wonderful week in the Lake District, proud of what we had achieved. Here's to many, many more adventures!