Good news: as of December 17th, I am officially finished with college. Now that I’ve put school behind me, I can focus on the van and the impending trip. There’s a lot that needs to happen before I leave, a lot more than just buying and building the van.
This blog is, of course, a priority. I also need to build up my writing career as much as possible before I leave. I want my work as a writer to be enough to support me, so I need to get the ball rolling. This is one of those careers that doesn’t see much profit early on. The more I get done before I leave, the better off I’ll be. I also want to sharpen my self-defense skills, and I’m considering getting a part time job. Plus, I’ve got this crazy idea that I’m going to work a DIY MFA program into my routine. (DIY MFA is the brainchild of Gabriela Pereira. If you’re curious, you can check out the website here.) It’s going to be busy, and that might cause delays in my plans, too.
With that in mind, here’s what I think the next few months are going to look like with regard to the van build:
Buy the van. The entire plan really comes down to this, doesn’t it? I think it’s probably the most intimidating step of the entire thing. If I screw up the insulation, I rip it out and try again. It might cost me an extra hundred bucks if I really mess up, but at the end of the day it isn’t a big deal. If I mess up buying the van, I’m kind of up a creek without a paddle. So I’m going to take my time here. This might be the only thing I get done in January. I’m hoping to get lucky and find something quickly, but I know that’s a bit of a dream.
Clean the van top to bottom.
Finalize the blueprint plans. In the last eight months since I decided I wanted to do this after graduation, I’ve come up with more designs for the van than I can even keep track of. Once I’ve bought a specific van, I plan to take some measurements and finalize those plans.
Research materials needed and locate available tools. I figure this is something I can start working on when I start going cross-eyed from looking at too many vans. Plus, since my dad doesn’t own all the tools I’ll need and I don’t really want to buy anything more than I have to, I’ll need to ask neighbors, relatives, and friends about borrowing their equipment way in advance. I fully expect this step to spill over into February. Possibly March.
Decide which parts of the conversion (if any) to hire someone else to do. I’m not an expert at any of this stuff. Heck, I’m not even a novice at most of this stuff. So I’m considering paying someone else to do one or two things (like cutting a hole in the roof of my van for the ventilation fan. Can you imagine if I messed that up?) that require that expertise. In January, I want to make final decisions about hiring experts.
Complete all work that requires cutting into the van. There’s no point in putting insulation over spaces that are going to be removed anyway. I’ve considered adding a window, but that’s still up in the air, and the vent fan will definitely need a nice-sized hole in my roof, as previously mentioned.
Make final decisions on electrical and insulation. What kind, how I’m going to back up my electrical, how much, where the wiring will go, etcetera etcetera.
Purchase all materials for electrical and insulation. I’m not sure where I’ll find some of this stuff and how long shipping will take, so hopefully this can happen earlier in the month.
Try to complete electrical and insulation. Since I’m thinking about hiring someone else for the first task this month, I’m not sure how long I’ll just be waiting for it to be done. Plus, I’m not sure how many times I’m going to mess up the electrical before I get it right. This whole process is really very up in the air.
Complete electrical and insulation if needed.
Purchase and complete paneling work. This step should be one of the most straightforward. I hope.
Finish floor, walls, and ceiling. As is the trend, I haven’t entirely decided how I want to do this, yet. But I don’t think I’ll do anything too extravagant, so hopefully this and the paneling can be done in one week.
Final decisions on fixtures, furniture, and other components. Do I want a sink? Do I want an electric water pump or is manual alright? This is my last chance to change my ever-fickle mind.
Purchase materials for furniture build (including mattress). You may not have thought about it (I sure didn’t, at first), but vans don’t come in normal mattress sizes. Apparently the thing to do is get a custom one from an RV, boat, or other recreational vehicle manufacturer. This will probably be chaotic and make great blog fodder.
Begin construction of major furniture pieces. The platform for the bed, the storage underneath, the shape of the kitchen, it’s all going to start coming together (optimistically).
Paint or finish surfaces. I want it to feel like home, so I want to finish everything off like a nice, tidy little house.
Install kitchen items. The fridge will go in, the sink if I end up with one, the stove, and anything else that requires a permanent spot.
Put in the mattress. I changed my mind. This will definitely be the easiest part.
Add final decorative touches.
Nothing ever goes according to plan. It’s Murphey’s law: “Everything that can go wrong, will.” So May is Murphey’s month, and is my time to finish up when I inevitably end up off track.
Which brings us to the final step:
Move in, and hit the road. Destination: Everywhere!