A retired man who couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw how much a new conservatory or outbuilding would cost, so decided to take matters into his own hands
When you think of a summer house, you probably don’t picture an old prison van.
But one man has completely transformed that very vehicle into a unique space for he and his wife to relax in.
Retired Graham Skidmore, 74, from Barrow Hill, Worcestershire, bought the police van, which was used to transport prison inmates to court, for £250.
He then transformed the inside and furnished it, with the total cost for the project setting him back £750.
This is a massive saving, compared with the £42,000 he was quoted for a conservatory or the £12,000 it would have set him back for a new outbuilding.
Upon seeing his handiwork, Graham’s wife Sandra, joked: “I hope he doesn’t lock me and throw away the key.”
The father-of-four is very happy with the new summer house, admitting that it offers better views than from their house.
He said: “The position is superb.
“Those views are more open than the views we get from the windows in the house.
“I go out there now and with half an hour’s sun in the winter, the place is warm and I’ve fallen asleep in there three times.”
Before, starting his DIY project, the van had five cells inside and a latrine running down the middle.
Graham stripped the whole thing bare over five months, keeping a few of the original features – including heavy duty prison doors and a hatch that the prison guard driver would have used to speak to prisoners.
He recalls how he initially planned to make the space out of a horse box, as he used to work in that industry.
“I rang a few friends to try and get one of these glasonite containers.
“They are built very lightly to take more weight when they are carrying horses.
“Everyone I spoke to said they didn’t have any of the size I wanted. They were all about 20ft long.
“I would have to cut it down and a lot more work.”
He continued: “But one guy said ‘I tell you what I have got, I’ve got a prison van container just up the road from you.’
“I thought that’s going to be dreadful. I let it fly for a week and then thought I’d go and have a look.
“When I went down, there were 20 all in a row. I thought that is exactly what I want. I bought it there and then.”
He then went on a mission to complete the job cheaply.
He haggled and found bargains, adding his son’s old patio doors, reduced furniture from a garden centre and a sofa a neighbour was throwing away.
“It’s not been easy, but it has quite amazed me,” he said of the process.
Sandra added: “It’s absolutely stunning. I never thought it would turn out like this.”
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