Breck is ~75 percent done! And this post is written ~3 months late! Let’s just pretend it is early September when reading the rest of this… 😉
After an extremely stressful few weeks, I hit my goal and was able to move into Breck over Labor Day weekend so I could adventure back out west for a few months before winter started to seep through the van’s (insulated) metal walls. Since moving in a few weeks ago, it has been quite the adjustment, but so so so worth it to be back with some of my favorite people and exploring the Colorado mountains and Utah deserts once again. I’ll post about my first big test run at #vanlife in the coming weeks, once I return back east and have some more down time than I am allowing myself out here, but I wanted to get a summary of my build written up first. So here it goes!
Continuing from my last post, buying Breck was a pretty spontaneous purchase, and I was equally both ecstatic and terrified when it happened. Neither of those feelings have worn off yet, but I think just nested further into the back of my brain, getting re-triggered every so often. Doing a two-month trial run is definitely the best thing that I could have done at this point so I can get used to this new lifestyle and also figure out adjustments to make to my unfinished build. Going back east for the last two months of the year will be a good move too, since I now have a growing list of improvements to make and new things to build that looks very different from the list I was originally expecting to have come December.
So, over three-ish weeks at the end of this summer, I turned an empty cargo into a comfortable home for myself. Here is the rundown of how that went:
My daily routine
On weekdays: Wake up at 6am, work until 2 or 3pm, build things until 8pm (pausing for dinner (of course) and multiple trips to Lowe’s (of course)), shower, research van things until about 10pm, pass out in bed.
On weekends: Wake up by 7am, start building things between 7 and 9am (I had to wait until the neighbors were awake before I started sawing), build things until 8pm (pausing for lunch and dinner and even more trips to Lowe’s (of course)), shower, research van things for the next day until about 10pm, go to bed.
I’m not going to lie, this routine was really hard and really exhausting for me. I was always sore and super dirty, the joints in my fingers were literally locked up every morning since I’m not used to this type of work, I didn’t get much sleep, I was super stressed from my (ridiculous) self-imposed deadline, etcetera, etcetera. I probably said something along the lines of, “I hate this” and “Manual labor SUCKS!” a few times a day, but once things started to really come together in the van and I could start to see the result of my hard work, it was all so so worth it.
Pro-tip: Don’t try to build your van in three weeks while working full-time.
To keep myself sane, I created a Trello board at the beginning of the van build and used it to break down, prioritize, size and add deadlines each task that I had to tackle for the build. My project management background really kicked into gear here. 🙂 But actually, it was incredibly helpful for helping me focus and know if I was on track to finish by September 1st, and I honestly don’t think I would have finished what I needed for an MVP van home if I hadn’t been this organized.
Order of Operations
Alrighty, here’s the meat of it. The rough order that I did the conversion in is:
- Clean the sh*t out of the van since it was bought used
- Install flooring
- Install side window
- Get solar panels / electrical wiring done
- Install vent fan
- Insulate the van
- Add furring strip to the walls
- Put up the walls
- Make kitchen counter
- Build bed
- Assemble kitchen cabinet
- Build a storage bench to hold my batteries/electrical
- Make table and mount it to the bench
- Make bench cushions
- Sew and install blackout curtains
- Finish hooking up the electric
- Move in and head west!
jk, I moved in before the electric was hooked up, but that was just due to my life being in two different states all summer, and I happened to be finishing the build before I got back to the state where my electrician was.
I’ll be home at my parents’ for about five weeks during December and January, and have a small but mighty list of van renovation tasks to do so I can officially call Breck finished. This list includes:
- Put up a ceiling
- Build insulated wheel well boxes
- Install a sink and gray water system
- Hook up a foot pump and faucet for fresh water
- Build drawers under the bed for more storage
- Assemble and mount overhead cabinets, if needed (still deciding)
- New tires + 60,000 mile check-up for the van
I have a spreadsheet where I am logging all of the supplies that I buy for the van and its cost. In total, my van conversion costed me almost exactly $4,000. I have a few things to build and finish up at the end of this year when I am back east, and I estimate those tasks to cost me another $250 at the most. Electric was by and far my biggest cost, adding up to almost $1,800 once everything was said and done. I have a basic solar/electrical setup and I paid somebody $550 to install it all. Could I have skipped the whole solar setup and hooked up my batteries to my van’s alternator to make the entire thing a little cheaper? Yes. But in my van build panic/chaos, my brain didn’t even think of that path until it was too late, and anyways, the solar panels are way cool. 🙂
So for a little under $24,000, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears, I have my very own tiny home on wheels. He’s not 100 percent finished, but he’s a comfortable home. He’s not 100 percent perfect, but at this moment, he’s perfect for me and exactly what I needed. I couldn’t be prouder of how he turned out and I can’t wait to see where else he takes me.