Richens and his partner Lucy Hedges, who live in Oxford, came up with the idea when they couldn’t find anything that suited their needs elsewhere. The pair snapped up the vehicle for £8,000 (US$10,200) and set to work turning it into a family-friendly camper van for four.
Documenting the process on his blog, Richens admits it was harder than he thought. ‘The truth of building the camper van conversion was actually one of chronic back ache, self-inflicted injuries and the overarching sense of white-hot urgent dread.’
But Richens and his family are so pleased with the end result that sometimes they even spend the afternoon in the camper van rather than their own home when it’s sat on the driveway. They regularly take to the road for week-long holidays around Britain.
He took a lot of inspiration from boat design, especially in the sleeping quarters where an old boat bunk construction technique was used; the beds are only full height from the waist up to save valuable space, while still remaining comfortable.
The original chairs of the van provide seating in the dining area – the seats in the front can turn around to face the table at meal times and the kitchen, which includes two ring burners, countertop, sink and cabinets; sits behind it. Another smart storage idea was to create cubby holes beneath the floor to put muddy or sandy shoes.
The project was finally completed at the end of July 2016, taking around six months and costing £18,000 (US$23,000) in total, with the construction fitting around Richens’ full-time job as an engineer; his family and friends also chipped in often to lend him a hand.
‘Looking at the final result is rather overwhelming and I can’t quite believe that this thing was actually created by stupid, clumsy me,’ says Richens in the final post on his blog. ‘Recalling moments where I’m confidently slicing through expensive bits of wood the wrong way, or hammering bits of metal that really don’t need hammering I’m quite stunned that this is the result. The fact that I still have all my appendages attached beggars belief.’
If you fancy your own camper van, Richens is now taking commissions off the back of his success with this model – check out his website, This Moving House.