Story 9 | Van Builder

Bret (@chewythevanagon)


After throwing some cardboard and a sleeping bag into the back of his 4 Runner for a camping trip to Colorado – Texas native, Brett, became intrigued with the idea of sleeping in his car. A few years later and thousands of dollars lost in rent for his place in Austin, he decided it was time to find a new template to live and be comfortable. 

For the next few months, Brett lived in a tent in his friend’s backyard as part of his plan to figure it out. From there - he decided to build a comfortable sleeping area in the back of his 4 Runner; complete with a bed platform, storage for clothes and a small kitchen. His vision was coming to life - he found comfort without paying rent which ultimately led him to a happier lifestyle. 

Inspired by his work and new lifestyle in the 4 Runner – Brett craved a summer project to build again. He originally thought about buying a small 4’ x 8’ trailer to live in, but ended up finding a 1986 Vanagon for an insane deal that he could not pass it up. Over the course of the summer, Brett and his friend - built a custom cedar home on wheels based off the traditional Westfalia lay-out, complete with the flip out bed, tons of storage, and even the kitchen sink. Brett lived in the van for two weeks, and then decided to Air-bnb for extra income. During that time he reverted back to his life in the 4 Runner and ended up renting Chewy out for almost 4 months straight - with a total of only 10 days with no one sleeping in it. 


With the momentum off of his efforts with Chewy - Brett had a local, Texas based couple reach out to him to help them reform their life, which he agreed to do by building them a home on wheels out of a Sprinter van. Within a week, the couple bought the van and Brett began relentlessly working for the next two months. He built the space complete with a lifted bed for storage of mountain bikes, a pull out drawer/couch, a flip down table, bamboo floors and powered via solar. The couple is now on the road – living reformed. 

Now - Brett is onto his latest project, a Sprinter for himself; to call home and his mobile workshop. Armed with the skills to build homes one wheels, Brett envisions a lifestyle of travel and custom building homes for those that also want to reform their life. 

For more from Brett follow their Reformed Life on his Instagram @chewythevanagon

Reform Life