Thursday, May 2


It's time to update the blog!  I know it's been a while, but there have been some kinks in the process (no surprise!)  Home building is an all-consuming process!  So where were we?  Right.  We realized that the container that we were going to purchase from the landlord was in fact rather rotten and unusable.  So we had to demolish it.  Here is what that looked like:
Remember that it started out as this...
tBOY and tBrother worked to take apart the wood frame...
Then they proceeded to remove the metal sheets on the exterior.  This took 2 full days of hard work.

tLandlord then demolished the rest with his excavator...
This took a few minutes!
And we were left with this.  You can't tell from the photo, but there is a ton of
crumbly fiberglass and other yucky things under that wood.
We burned a lot of the wood and other nasty things which created a lot of nasty fumes (not our idea)...
This is what it looked like after many days of cleaning and burning.
During the demolition of the container, we encountered some disagreement with the landlord (again).  Without getting into details, we got to a point (a few times) where we were not sure whether this land rental was going to work out - which meant we considered delaying (and even abandoning) the project as land is a crucial element of the project (as you can imagine).  In the end, we decided to proceed... but with caution.  All the uncertainty about the land has really taken a lot of the enthusiasm and excitement away from the project (hence the long delay in writing this post).

We were hoping to gain housing autonomy and freedom by leaving the home renting world.  But what we have quickly learned (and are continually reminded of) is that we are not true home owners until we own the land.  At the moment, in this part of the world, there is not a lot of land available for sale.  Well.  At least not the type of land we want.  There are lots to be bought in suburban developments - in the housing neighbourhoods in town.  But the reason we came up with this moveable house idea was to make it possible to live in a more rural setting (think Forest, River, Wildlife).  And the land that is for sale is not affordable (for us) and most of it is off-grid, treed and remote (e.g. no cellphone reception - which tBOY needs since he works from home some days).  We do not have a long term solution and at times, that is depressing and somewhat distressing.  But.  Life is short and we are grateful to live in such a beautiful place, so we will continue to be creative in making it work.   So...

We have changed the scope of the bus construction plan (yes, again!)  No more sleeping loft, double decker, recycled container, newly built container etc.  Nope!  We are just going to make the home in the existing bus structure.  Yep.  All 220 sq. ft. of it.  Is everything going to fit?  Well, we think (hope) so!

So...  It was back to the drawing board.  Once again we created a new layout:
For a while, my mind was completely filled with layout layout layout!!!  So much so that I even had bus layout on my current cabin floor :)!
The bedroom (i.e. our queen-sized bed) will now be at the back of the bus.  The middle will be the dining area on one side and the living room on the other.  The front of the bus will consist of the kitchen and the bathroom (toilet and shower, no sink).  The skylight that was at the back of the bus (which was going to be the kitchen but is now the bedroom) has been removed (as light shining into our faces when we sleep is not conducive to good sleep).  And a storage area for clothes has been built in its place.  That skylight is now being used in the bathroom - above the shower.  This raises the ceiling of the shower so that tBOY can actually stand in it and not hit his head on the ceiling/shower head.  In the middle of the bus is a large 4'x4' skylight that is raised to include some shelving space.  Does this make sense?
The little house-like structure is our clothes storage.  There are shelves lined along each side and a rod will be place along the length of it to hang shirts etc.  Brilliant idea of tCarpenter :)!
Skylight over the to-be-shower (metal rib will be removed)
Large skylight in the middle of the bus (metal rib will be removed)
How the bus looks on the outside with the new structures
Also.  tElectrician has done some work:
Installing the electric panel
Wiring the plugs and light switches throughout the bus
tCarpenter and I spent many hours deciding on all the materials needed for the bus.  It felt like a lot of decisions for a 220 sq. ft. space.  I cannot imagine what it would be like for a 2,000 sq. ft. house.  I suppose that building a house is more standard, so that helps.  Our project is unconventional, so we have to invent our own ways - which is a bit more time consuming.  So then off we went (again) to the big box home building stores.
Plywood, pine panelling for ceiling and walls and the toilet
We've spent a lot of $$$ at the big box stores buying new materials (eeks!)  But we did luck out at the home building recycle centre too.  Check out some of our finds:
A cast iron sink for $40
A closet door to be the bathroom door.  Originally asking $60, but on sale for $30.
But then at the till, I found out that it's 40% off!  So it was only $18 :)!
We have been trying to decide on a shower design.  We want to make it the most space-efficient without being too cramped or too expensive (this is the toughest criterion!)  There are the conventional solutions such as buying a pre-made shower from the box store.  But mostly they are too big, too expensive and too ugly.  So then we thought about making a custom one with tile.  But that idea was short-lived as soon as we remembered that we are on a bus that will move = cracks.  Then I came up with the idea of a galvanized metal tub (like the ones used for animal feed).  Our lovely friend even bought us one from the States and gave it to us as a house building gift.  But alas, the metal is too thin and risks cracking and leaking, not to mention the loud metal-cracking sound it makes as soon as you step in it.  We then moved on to the wooden wine barrel idea.  I located some on Craig's List and sent out a few emails.  No replies.  In the end we decided against it - not knowing whether it would be leak proof and not wanting to risk mould and other slimey things.  So finally (we hope!), we got this:
A wine barrel look-alike.  Well.  Ok.  Maybe not completely.  But it's the same idea, but made of plastic, definitely leak proof and no metal clanging sounds.  I prefer it to be brown, but... well... it's black.  And it was only $36.  I'm not completely convinced... but it'll do for now :)!

And there you have it folks.  This is where we are.  tCarpenter is finishing the exterior of the skylights and clothes storage area.  And then he will get onto the cabinets.  We are still optimistic that we can move in on June 1.  There may be some finishing work to be done still, but we hope to be sleeping in the bus by then.

This project never ceases to throw surprises our way.  It's been challenging, but not enough to make us stop or give up.  Everyday, we learn something new about home building, about ourselves and about each other.  The stress of home building has a way of polarizing couples and tBOY and I are not immune.  We have discovered that we can have rather different ways of problem-solving and we sometimes approach big life decision-making quite differently.  Yet, we have not had a disagreement that we were not able to resolve quickly through talking and listening.  And for that I am grateful :)!  I try to remind myself to step back and breathe (harder than it sounds).  To remember that it's not a big deal!  It's just a school bus.  It's just money.  It's just a blip in the plans.  (tBOY helps me maintain that perspective :)! )  Remember all the things (and there are so many) that we have to be grateful for...
Laughter and love...

Walks with tDog at the beach...
Big box home building stores nestled in the mountains
(if you have to go to them - and we do - this one is pretty sweet!)

1 comment:

  1. I love to read your story. So well written and totally inspiring. We can all learn a lot from your experience. Please write more.