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23-Year-Old Filmmaker’s Cargo Van Tiny House


This is the story of a 23-year-old filmmaker’s cargo van tiny house conversion.

His name is Zach Both, and over the last year, he’s been on a “creative road show” across the US.

Zach travels and lives in his cargo van tiny house conversion that also functions as his mobile studio so he can live and work while traveling.

“Filmmaking by nature is a nomadic pursuit. It’s a constant migration to and from different locations based on what the storytelling requires,” said Zach Both. “With this van, I now have complete freedom to write a script surrounded by mountains, direct a shoot in a remote desert town and then collaborate with an editor or composer in Los Angeles—all within the same month. That would be impossible any other way.”

Related: Man Converts Cargo Van to Travel Around Europe

23-Year-Old Filmmaker’s Cargo Van Tiny House

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About Zach’s Van

  • 10-year-old Chevy cargo van purchased through Craigslist.
  • The interior was redesigned using contemporary influence.
  • All the carpentry and woodwork was done by Zach who had no prior experience with construction.
  • The living space features a futon bed and a kitchen with a stove.
  • The van uses solar panels on the roof to power the fridge, wifi network, and a home theater system.
  • The wood used on the walls and ceilings was reclaimed from a 19th century church in Cleveland, Ohio.

About Zach’s Website, TheVanual.com

  • The site is a free online guide to give you insight if you’re interested in converting your own van and pursuing a mobile lifestyle.
  • He created and shared a detailed step-by-step guide with photos of how he did it along with what tools he used to convert the van into a micro home.
  • The guide also gives you tips for life on the road and even suggestions on how to work as a digital nomad.

Learn more using the resources below. Thanks!

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Avatar Barry
    June 28, 2016, 5:22 pm

    Fabulous job, Zach!!!

  • Avatar Canyon Man
    June 28, 2016, 6:27 pm

    Nicely done.

  • Avatar Kurt
    June 28, 2016, 6:50 pm

    That is one sweet setup. I’ve seen numerous cargo van conversions and just when I think there can’t be something I’ve never seen, along comes something like this. I love how the windows swing out wide for a great view. I also like how the burners are hidden under the countertop.

    I’ll checkout Zach’s site, but I’m thinking he must be short since he can sleep in a bed aligned with the width of a van. I’ve looked at the specs for cargo vans and they are too small for my tall body. A high top like a Sprinter, Ford Transit, or the Nissan NV would be better for my needs.

    • Avatar Kurt
      June 28, 2016, 6:52 pm

      Just looked at the photos above again and I’m not seeing any insulation in the van.

      • Avatar lk
        June 29, 2016, 4:17 am

        He has a manual on his site that shows what he did from start to finish. He did insulate the van.

    • Avatar Kurt
      June 28, 2016, 6:54 pm

      Woh…that is one sweet site.

  • Avatar Bruce CG Gallagher
    June 28, 2016, 7:29 pm

    Wonderfully simple and elegant!

  • Avatar Brandon
    June 28, 2016, 8:01 pm

    This blew my mind, what an amazing setup!

  • June 28, 2016, 8:15 pm

    One of the nicest van conversions I’ve seen…

  • June 28, 2016, 8:17 pm

    Bravo!! Good job! Gotta love artists!
    Check me out over at thesunshack.etsy.com or on instagram @andreahardydesigns

  • Avatar Danielle DiLisio
    June 28, 2016, 10:15 pm

    Really nice job! What a great way to experience life.

  • Avatar alice h
    June 28, 2016, 10:33 pm

    I love it. Such a clean and simple interior, not like a “camper”, more like a modern apartment on wheels.

  • Avatar Tijn
    June 29, 2016, 5:06 am

    Really cool. But is the width of the car big enough to sleep in? (I’m 6 feet tall…)

  • Avatar Brittany B.
    June 29, 2016, 10:23 am

    This is beautiful! I love the windows, the woodwork. Does the sitting cube have storage in it as well? I think I’ve seen some that open up from the top. Is there also storage below the bed to keep dishes, cookware, cleaning supplies, clothing?

    From a practicality standpoint, is there a second entrance to the van? I’m trying to figure out the reason for putting the bed at the back where it seems to block the entrance and not sliding it to the opposite wall. To cover up the wheel wells perhaps?

    • Avatar Cindy Clark
      July 5, 2016, 10:13 pm

      Just when I thought the sitting cube was dual purpose and had a little porta-potty! 8~)

      • Avatar BrownLuster
        October 31, 2016, 10:26 pm

        Hi Ladies!
        Based on his website, the sitting cube does have storage inside…he has a lined, removeable bin inside that is used for trash/garbage. The lined bin has a small plastic fitted garbage bag inside.

        This van dwelling is absolutely genius & TOTALLY Beautiful!! Zach’s website/blog is extremely detailed (especially the tips on van dwelling in rutal and city life) and very well constructed as well. This young man is enormously talented!

        Hands-down…this is the BEST van dwelling I have ever seen!! Excellent work Zach!!

  • June 29, 2016, 2:42 pm

    Really a nice job. Looks very comfortable and well thought out! also looks like it does not take a lot of upkeep-a biggie.

  • Avatar Liz
    July 10, 2016, 11:16 pm

    Looks very nice, but is missing some major stuff like the toilet and a sink or shower.

  • Avatar M
    July 19, 2016, 3:09 pm

    I had already guessed the toity was in the box as I had done the same thing last year in my van. It contained the toilet, TP, shower bag, and a blow up toddler pool for a bath/base. I call it ‘bathroom in a box’ and it provided a seat for eating/working just like his.

    I love the blackboards for storyboarding, are the windows open air when they are up or screened or have glass? Hard to tell from the picks.

  • July 25, 2016, 10:15 am

    Nice ride….! I like the way you fixed it up, it seems to work seamlessly… Good luck to you…!

  • Avatar Charles Tersteeg
    July 26, 2016, 9:59 pm

    Your web site is awesome in design and function! 10/10 easy.

    I read through all of it and enjoyed everything your put out there. Honestly is great and the van is the best I’ve seen to date!

  • Avatar Diana Angell
    September 15, 2016, 3:25 pm

    WELL done Zach, I checked out your webpage and kuddos to you! Keep up the good work, you did a great job! Love the van….

  • Avatar Duchess
    October 24, 2016, 8:58 pm

    What is the blue thing to the right of the stove ?

    • Avatar BrownLuster
      October 31, 2016, 10:41 pm

      Hi Duchess!
      The blue thing to tyr right of the stove is a small cooler/refrigerator. It opens from the top (the blue portion you see is thd top of the cooler/refrigerator. Zach stated that the cooler/refrigerator only cools to 40° so he doesn’t store any meats or chesses in it.

  • Avatar Barnie
    October 31, 2016, 6:16 pm

    Amazingly impressive van conversion, love the clean aesthetic inside and out despite all the amenities Zach had to cleverly incorporate. Website detailing the project is definitely worth some attention.

  • Avatar Mike Wilson
    October 31, 2016, 10:24 pm

    love the styling and functionality! stealing some ideas 🙂

  • Avatar keepyourpower
    December 24, 2016, 1:40 am

    Toilet? Shower? Sink?

  • Avatar Gail
    May 3, 2017, 11:04 am

    Great job Zach. Love the site and all the details on how you did this. Most
    importantly how you keep safe in your van and all the great tips.
    Good luck on all your travels.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee
      May 4, 2017, 4:26 am

      His tips are wonderful!

  • Avatar Marsha Cowan
    July 23, 2017, 12:20 pm

    Very nice!. . .oh, and the van, too! Lol! Clever all around.

  • July 23, 2017, 6:11 pm

    why did you close off the cab of the van from the living space? I saw in the BEFORE pic there was at least some opening.

  • Avatar Susan
    July 25, 2017, 12:41 pm

    Nicely done. Clean and clutterless. Easy to travel in, but some necessities needed to live….at least for me.

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