When you live outside Europe, its hard to find information on specific topics (like converting a van) unless someone has done it before, and even then most people don’t want to share their secrets on how they did it. We bought our van, Thomas the transit, in the Netherlands and registered it in Andorra.
Once we got that far, we had no plan as to where we would work on it, to turn our van into our full time home. Our patience had run thin so we started working on it in a parking lot in Andorra, near a construction site where they let us use there toilets and power for free! At the end of their work day they even had a beer with us. The construction workers couldn’t speak much English and we couldn’t speak any Spanish or Catalan but we still had a laugh and enjoyed our beers. We didn’t get a lot of work done here but it was enough to get us satisfied as we had finally made a start. We managed to get our roof fans in, solar on and windows installed as well as get it fully insulated all within a week of working the parking lot.
Once the van was fully registered, we drove to Germany in hope we could rent a sea container at a self storage facility to store our belongings and work on the van there. We found a small company on Facebook marketplace who was more than happy for us to convert our van at his warehouse and camp out the back in the garden area. This however, didn’t work out which was really disappointing as we had everything planned out. We had thought about where we would shower, get water, food, gym and sleep, everything was set. Then unfortunately, we received a message last minute saying we could no longer use it as they were doing construction work on the facility. By that time, we were already in Frankfurt, Germany. I opened google and started ferociously searching where we could possibly work on the van over a coffee in a little cafe. Soon enough we landed on Tatcraft and counted our lucky stars!
So, what is Tatcraft? Tatcraft is a co-working space in a massive warehouse. They have every tool you could possibly think of; welders, saws, cordless tools, hand tools, absolutely EVERYTHING! If you can think of it, they have it. We decided to pay a membership for working daily for 149 euros per month per person. It’s a bit of a strange space in terms of machinery training. Coming from Australia, to have this sort of setup, you would have to do a lot of training in order to use any tools, especially massive power tools. They offer a course for 20 euro (or something similar) for people who are tradesmen, which takes about 30 minutes. They basically run through a overview of each machine, assuming you already know how to use them safely. If your a newbie and never used a machine before, they offer another course where they can show you everything in order to get you going!
So, for two months, we based ourselves here while we built our van. We rented Airbnb apartments just outside of Frankfurt to make it a bit cheaper, as Frankfurt is really expensive for accommodation. Working at Tatcraft made everything so much easier, there was no hard jobs here, with all the equipment it made everything so easy. The staff and other people working there are really friendly and happy to help if needed or maybe even just a chat. The only downside to working at Tatcraft is they use the space for events. Nearly every second weekend, they would close the workspace so they could host events. Over our time there, we calculated that they were closed for a total of 2 weeks over the 8 week period we were there, it was a bit ridiculous.
These co-working spaces are all over Europe; Germany, France, Netherlands etc. They all have a similar concept and setup for the everyday handy man to go and work. The best tip to find them is to use the internet or Facebook. Instead of typing it in English, use a translator and translate it to the local language, you will then find so many different places to go! I hope this helps you find a place to work on your van or gives you an insight into how we did it.