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Sunday, June 12, 2016

You Want To Live in This Van Down by the River

Copyright © 2016 Bold Ride LLC.

When filmmaker Zach Both bought this 2003 Chevy Express in the summer of 2014, he didn’t have much experience with carpentry, let alone converting a cargo van into a live/work space. But that didn’t stop him from undertaking the project, and after a year of working on it whenever possible, he ended up with one impressive setup.
Previously owned by an electrician in Vermont, the van itself is nothing fancy, and Both picked it up off Craigslist for just $4,000. New tires and some needed repairs required roughly another $3,000 going into it, and then around $5,000 on top of that for the tools, and materials required for the conversion. That brought the total to around $12,000, not factoring in fridge and solar power unit that Both bartered for, which would bump the total up to $15,000.

That’s nothing to sniff at for most folks, and Both admits that it was more than he planned on spending. But he feels that it was well worth it since the project was more than just building out a camper van, it was a design exercise and a learning experience.

Once you see inside the van, it immediately becomes apparent that all his hard work paid off. The custom built cabinets and kitchenette are among the best I’ve been in a van, and using the same reclaimed wood on the ceiling was a great touch to tie the space together. The window panels have been modified to open outward, which is helpful in eliminating that funky smell most camper vans seem to acquire after a few trips, and they’ve also been fitted with chalkboard on the inside for note taking, storyboarding, or just doodling.

Having the oversize futon right at the rear of the van is a great move, I’m sure few things are better than being able to pop the rear doors open and roll right out of bed to start the day. Another smart touch is having all the spice jars screwed to the underside of the stove cover, just goes to show how much thought was put into the design.

Although it wasn’t a super cheap build, going this route was definitely more affordable than many of the alternatives, like a Sportsmobile or VW Eurovan. Besides, as Both points out on his website The Vanual, there are a number of ways to cut costs if you have a smaller budget to work with. Having an adventuremobile like this in the garage has always been appealing, but with all the amenities included in this build, maybe there’s no need for the garage at all.