We named our van Hedwig after Harry Potter’s owl. Hedwig is a snowy white owl that is intelligent, loyal, and affectionate. She soars through the sky with ease. Our Hedwig has taken good care of us, getting us from place to place with no worries. We invested lots of time and finances to make the van comfortable. It didn’t take long for her to feel like home.
The day we bought our van was exhilarating. We had searched for so long for the right one and even test drove a few. We had finally made the commitment to the dream we had been talking about for the last year. We saved just enough to pay for the van in full and drove off the used lot with our new home. Hedwig is a 1997 Ford Ecoline extended cab with an added high roof. She was previously used for transportation and had a wheelchair lift inside that we had to remove.
The van drove well and was in great condition. However, the inside was a mess. We decided to buy used because one of our goals was to minimize our bills on the road. We didn’t want to be stuck with a large car payment every month. We knew we needed a high roof so that Staford could somewhat stand and not be hunched over. We didn’t rush into the purchase and we had the van inspected before we made a decision.
We built the van in Missouri where Staford’s parents had a shop with every tool you could ever need. Staford’s step-dad showed us how to use power tools, install things, and make our vision come to life. We had no previous experience building anything or working in a shop. It truly was a giant learning curve for us. We had a goal to finish the van in three months but actually finished it in five. One reason for this is because
our entire household contracted COVID-19. That set us back for many weeks. We also ran into a dreaded problem for builders- leaks! We couldn’t begin installing our electric until we had patched up all the leaks in our fiberglass roof. We chased leaks for about a month, using a visibly obscene amount of silicone on our van. Every time we thought we had patched them all, another would pop up.
We budgeted for the build and for a few months without work. We spent time working on the van every single day. We made a trip to Lowe’s at least twice a day for supplies. In the beginning we purchased an old pop up camper to scrap for parts. We did everything ourselves from installing the floor, cutting the wood, and sewing the curtains. Building this tiny house on wheels was a lot more work than I expected, but so worth it in the end. There were times where I was truly overwhelmed and wanted to quit. There were times where I started to wonder if we made a terrible mistake. But everything we did just goes to show that anyone can do this. You just have to be willing to learn and exercise your most inner patience and determination.
- Hedwig – $6,500
- Renovation- $3,500
- Total = $10,000