How to Choose a Sprinter Van Conversion Expert and Who I’m Trusting with Our Van
If you’ve read my About Me page, you know that I’m OBSESSED with the idea of traveling the world in a Sprinter Van and while my choice of color (pink!) is dubious, my overall obsession is quite legit.
You see, converting a Sprinter van is a fantastic option for a family that loves outdoor vacationing and travel. *Raises both hands*
However, even though, Sprinter vans are becoming increasingly popular, their conversion into a camper van isn’t the easiest thing ever.
And the more I researched this, the more I realized that one needs professional expertise and assistance. After all, this vehicle is going to be your “home on the road” for a long time so you don’t want to make mistakes that burn your budget and unhinge your sanity, right?
But this decision led to yet another dilemma – who do I trust to build our beloved family adventure vehicle in a way that’s beautiful and practical too?
How do I know this person knows what he or she is doing and that they’ll deliver on their promise?
Ahhh… decisions, decisions!
“It is fortunate that I love Instagram… a traveler’s best friend. No kidding!
I stumbled across Jack Richens on Instagram. Jack lives in Oxford, UK and is a former broadcast engineer.
However, that’s beside the point… Jack converted his Sprinter van into a stunning “home on the road” which can house 2 adults and up to 2 kids!
Not only that, about a year ago, Jack’s story and a video of his van featured on Tech Insider. It went viral all over social media, including yes, Instagram! Within about 3 days, the video had over 20 million views and 300,000 shares across Facebook. Yep, viral.
I saw the video and then, the photos.
Check this out.
Gorgeous, I tell you.
I’ve chatted with Jack about 4-5 times and yes, he’s the one I’ll be working with to convert our family’s Sprinter Van so we can hit the road in comfort and style.
Why Jack Richens is a Sprinter Van Conversion Rockstar
Unlike other vehicle conversion specialists, Jack’s driven by a passion for elegant design and modern practicality.
Jack shares that the inspiration for the van came from spending a great deal of time living inside them. He says, “For seven years I lived in a van so I could save money to buy a house which allowed for a great deal of freedom; travels, surfing festivals etc. So while I lived in the van I had a lot of time to dream up ideas on how to improve them.”
Jack’s conversion journey started when he couldn’t find a live-aboard vehicle that fit his needs and design sensibilities.
His first van conversion, an old post office vehicle, didn’t survive the test. They weren’t able to find a decent replacement soon.
Jack and his partner, Lucy, spent a lot of time looking at motorhomes, caravans and campervans but couldn’t find anything that was suitable. Most live-aboard vehicles were either very practical but very ugly. Or very stylish, but rather impractical.
So, they did what all innovative desginers do – they decided to build one themselves!
They decided to use a 2012 Mercedes Benz Long Wheel Base Sprinter as the base vehicle which had 76,000 miles on the clock. It cost them £10,000.
Jack and Lucy make a fantastic team.
She sketched her brilliant ideas for the layout and he drafted these ideas into CAD and built their dream vehicle.
They wanted to create a vehicle that was a home from home and provided a space in which they would want to live in. With 2 kids, they knew this space had to be practical and fun to spend time in.
The project took them 4 months, full time and cost around £8000 in materials to complete.
And it was not smooth sailing either.
Jack shares, “Throughout the build there were problems, challenges and hurdles to overcome but the hardest part was making everything sturdy and safe. It’s quite simple to frame out a van, but to have it made kid proof, and survive the continuous bumps and rattles of the road is really, very difficult.
Days, sometimes weeks of hard graft would pass and I could see no progress, that’s heartbreaking. It’s hard to go back to a project when you think you’re just treading water. As long as you put the hours in and you’re breaking a sweat, you probably are heading in the right direction. That’s a hard lesson to learn.”
Yes, Jack Richens has definitely won those battle scars and passed the test of fire.
After I spoke with him, I was a 100% sure that Jack is super smart with the Sprinter Van conversion AND also passionate about outdoor family adventures.
Jack’s learned what works and what doesn’t and he brings this hard-won expertise to the Sprinter van conversion table, so to speak.
Hiring him to convert our van and create our dream outdoor adventure vehicle was a no-brainer.
Not only did our design sensibilities align, I love the fact that he’s so focused on ensuring that the van is sturdy, safe and kid-friendly.
As mom to Luisa that is my number one priority too.
I want my daughter to be completely safe and comfortable while we are on the road.
This post is just the first in a series of posts that I’ll be sharing to talk about my Sprinter Van conversion project with Jack Richens.
If you’re looking to get a van converted for yourself, I recommend you keep the following points in mind:
- Does your van conversion expert have proven success? How many vans have they converted so far?
- Are they as passionate about family adventure and outdoor travel as you are? Would they keep kids’ safety and comfort front-and-center when converting your vehicle?
- Do your design sensibilities mesh well together? Would you be able to arrive at a happy consensus over design decisions?
- Are they willing to chat with you a couple of times so you can both get a feel for whether or not you’re a good fit?
- What are their charges and do they fit your budget?
These 5 questions will help you find a professional to help with your Sprinter van conversion so you can hit the road without a worry in the world!
I was able to answer “yes” to all these questions when it came to working with Jack Richens and so he’s the one I’ll be working with.
Have a question about hiring a professional to convert your Sprinter van? Ask away in the comments or drop me a line!