Back in the ‘90s on Saturday Night Live, Chris Farley would sometimes play a motivational speaker who warned wayward youth that they may find themselves one day “livin’ in a van, down by the river.” Zach Both seems to have taken the sketch as sound advice, in the best possible way.
As a filmmaker, Zach travels the U.S. looking for interesting people and stories. His nomadic lifestyle led him to the idea of building a mobile home-studio. He bought a used 2003 Chevy Express van he found on Craigslist for $3,900, with the intention of turning it into a home on wheels that would double as a studio for him to work on his craft.
Without any carpentry experience, he learned everything he needed to know for his ambitious project by watching instructional videos on YouTube. After 10 months of intermittent work in between filmmaking gigs, the roving home-studio was complete. In these pictures, you can watch as Zach transforms the beat-up vehicle into what he now calls the "Rocket Van."
Zach bought this 2003 Chevy Express for $3,900 from an electrician in Vermont. At the time of purchase, it had over 200,000 miles on it.
The van was rusted, and the interior hadn't been well maintained by its previous owner.
In order to make it to cozy on cold, winter nights, Zach glued down insulation templates.
The interior had lots of holes and cracks from wear and tear, so Zach filled them in with spray foam.
Then, he installed new flooring to give the van a more homey feel.
The bed frame is also a storage space, and can be folded into a couch.
Zach went into this project with no carpentry experience. He learned most of the necessary skills through YouTube videos.
Here's a sketch he made for the layout of the vehicle. Zach knew that economy of space would be crucial.
The dining area doubles as an office and a living room.
Zach tried to cut costs everywhere he could. The mattress for the bed is just an old IKEA futon he had lying around.
Zach found wooden panels from a 19th century church on Craigslist, and used them as ceiling panels.
A lot of the objects in the van have multiple purposes, such as this stool/trash can.
It took Zach 10 days to paint the interior.
Solar panels were installed to power the utilities. Hopefully he won't have to jump his battery too often.
Check out the moveable bedside table.
He used chalkboard paint on the interior to create message boards, which he uses for work.
The van has its own kitchen, complete with a spice rack. It may look small, but it's bigger than lots of NYC apartments!
Here's Zach with his dad, who helped him out with the project.
He christened the mobile home the "Rocket Van." He says he enjoys living in a small space because it forces him to simplify his lifestyle.
Zach plans to stay out on the road all year, and says he will most likely spend Christmas by himself in his van. Honestly, when you look at this picture, can you blame him?
If you're feeling inspired and want to take a stab at building your own Rocket Van, Zach has created a "vanual" to show how he did it.
Don't forget to SHARE these incredible pictures of Zach and his van with your friends and family!