If you’ve wondered about the kind of journey one really goes through to finding their perfect home on wheels, I bring you mine… of course, we can note that not all journeys are the same but there were definitely things I heard from others that I truly didn’t think I’d have to deal with… until I did.
The van finding process felt rather difficult and there were a lot of tears and frustration. My family and friends only really knew that I bought this thing but until writing this I’ve never shared what the entire process looked like.
It was August 2020 when Steve and I reconnected and I was saying to him how badly I wanted to live the Van Life and for about two, maybe three months I would look on Kijiji and Facebook marketplace going towards the idea of buying an already converted van because that was one cost, knowing that I couldn’t afford a van plus a conversion cost, nor did I have anyone to convert a van. That being said, Kijiji and Facebook marketplace both have great Van’s out there, I simply didn’t feel comfortable buying a van that had already been traveled in and I am no car expert to tell what is good under the hood.
I had a vision, that’s all I had – until Steve came more into the picture.
I didn’t want to go towards sprinters because they’re more expensive than a Ford or a promaster and after many long chats, we started down the conversation of the possibility of finding the proper people to help convert a van as my own. Steve and I were on a mini road trip chatting Van options until he called someone, (no idea who’s calling), he explained the situation and just asked this person if they’d be able to convert a Van and this guy was like, Yeah, I could do that.
So now we welcome Builder Allen into this journey. Steve and Allen have been friends for a decade, he learnt everything he knows from his father when it comes to carpentry and started his own general contracting business. Now that I have someone to convert my van.. the search began, originally looking for a ProMaster that quickly ended for more then one reason but a big one was because of the pandemic, with everybody ordering through Amazon and FedEx these two companies were buying all the Van’s coming off the assembly line for the next two years (those entering Alberta).
Steve had put out a Facebook post and within 20 minutes, he got a few DMS but one came in from a guy named Mike, who had onced worked with Steve. Mike used to work in commercial vehicle sales and had connections within the industry, who introduced us to a man named Kevin. Long story short, everybody owes everybody a favor and it worked out for me, yay again.
I gave Kevin the specs of the height, length, my budget and off he went. He had a search engine for Van’s from Vancouver Island all the way out to Newfoundland, at one point he did say I had him looking for a unicorn because at this time, everyone was purchasing these Van’s.
After a few weeks of searching he called me and said he found one in Vancouver. It was a 2020 mid roof, Ford Transit 250 and only had 9000 kilometers on it.
Yes, it was about 10% more than what I was budgeting for but it was PERFECT, I couldn’t say no, I had to make it work! Next step after finding the Van was sorting out the Finances. I needed to be at my Bank the next morning at 9am to get this money as soon as possible, so I booked an appointment at the next branch with availability at 9am, which happened to be in an area of the city I am never in.
And a Woman named Stella, she had a personality. In her defense, she had to have been new at Auto Loans because she was flustered from beginning to end and I think the entire process took close to a month to finally have the cheque in my hand. I had already been approved for x dollars but I needed more for the Loan and then I was providing the rest from my own funds.
So, the payment is approved, I have the bank draft in my hand – Now I have to mail it. Once I mailed the bank draft and feeling rather accomplished, it completely slipped my mind to get the remainder from my own bank account to mail that out as well… so the next day I had to go back to see Miss Stella, get another cheque and mail it out, again.
While all of this is happening, Kevin in BC is still patiently waiting after a Month for my money to show up! As the two cheques were in transit via the mail, the delivery company that was picking the Van up and driving it to Alberta was ready to pick it up ASAP but they weren’t allowed to take it off the lot until Kevin had my cheques in hand. Overall, it was a week before the delivery company could go pick up the van.
The Pick Up.
At this time, the delivery company said the van was going to leave on a Saturday, get to me on Thursday. Nope. It was 6pm on a Monday when I received a text stating it would be there at midnight that night, PUMPED!! It’s cold, middle of March and dirty.. I begged them to keep it clean LOL – every other car on this transport truck was brown and black and there was my van, white and pearly as could be, it was so spotless.
From there, the planning and build process took off – through my past searches on Facebook I connected with a Girl who also bought a ProMaster just around the same time I did so we became ciber friends haha. Through her, I found a couple in Canmore who converted Van’s on the regular and they knew how to do the pre-wiring for the electrical work that Allen wasn’t fully comfortable with, so I drive to Canmore 8 times for them to properly do the beginning stages of the electrical, solar and water aspect as this was INCREDIBLY important.
My advice to anyone who’s building a van is to find a woodworker and find an electrician OR nowadays you can likely find a company that does van conversions as their career. At first I was against looking for a Van out of my own province because it sounded way too much but now that I’ve done it, it’s not hard… just a lot of organization work and resourcing. The entire process from start to finish took about 7 Months, February-ish I found it, March I bought it and then remaining time was the build which included all the ups, downs, and the unexpected.
Nonetheless, to conclude – I can fully say it was all worth it.