Once upon a time we thought this project would take us 3 months, no longer, and we would be on the road. Kind friends guesstimated 9 months, ‘what! Are you kidding!’ I cried in alarm. Time proved us all wrong and two years later we are still here. I can’t imagine this boat of a bus being finished at any stage, but looking back It would be safe to assume that we are over the half-way mark at least and while we have no immediate plans to leave this town which we are quite happily making a home in, it could yet happen…or we could at least be living in the bus while parked on some land, which is also a long term dream.
This building project has taught me a lot. Most importantly to let go of life a little. Ambition is a very temporal thing and the process of becoming is much more fun than the bore of achieving.
Here’s where we are up to so far. Some very kind and supportive and encouraging friends were up on the weekend (for the third time), helping us build. Doctor Carl (his actual title) will be deserving of a keg of the finest whisky when we finally celebrate the end of this bus-build! …that is going to be one hellavu party!!!
We stripped the apricot paint off the outside and the roof, painted the roof with a thermoshield paint for insulation (insulation has been a big consideration all round on this bus!) and matched the rest of the exterior with a similar colour. You can see the edges of our four solar panels on the front half of the roof….here are a couple of before pictures.
This front area is still totally unfurnished. Still, there has been a lot done here. We stripped the interior, took off the old wall panels, pulled up the floor which has now been sanded and painted three times. Then we insulated (after removing old, itchy pink batts) and installed power cables under the roof panels. The walls are now clad with ‘Aluwell’ which is aluminium bonded to plastic, making it fairly flexible and also extremely durable. They are matt white walls, it’s hard to see it now in all it’s glory, but the walls are waiting to be unveiled under the plastic. We’ve kept as much window space as possible, but have had to build the walls up part of the way to make room for our kitchen benchtops. The red area at the back will become our pantry cupboard and also space for a water heater and plumbing into the shower. All the walls you see were put in ourselves.
Here’s a before pic from the day we bought the beast. We took out everything you see in this pic! The decaying and terribly itchy, yellow acrylic carpet on the roof, every single wall panel, the white ceiling, the lights, the grills, the walls, all the cupboards, the passenger seat, the table. We stripped it right back to an empty shell.
The boys moved the stove into the bus on the weekend. Starting to feel more like a home! You can see here how we’ve built the wall up so that the bench is not sitting right up against the window, however, so that we didn’t lose that little bit of window above the bench, Henry custom made a panel which slides up out of that wall and covers the top window section. Like I said…bespoke everything!
This is the cupboard in our bedroom, which they started on this weekend. In another moment of designing genius Henry constructed part of the cupboard under the kids bed which will hold shoes etc. The rail for hanging clothes (currently sitting on the floor) sits just under the aluminum tube about halfway up the cupboard and there will be shelving above.
This is our bedroom. Another thing which looks minor, but was major, is that back opening window. Initially this window was fixed, but we realised that in such a small space there really needed to be a way for the breeze to come through and so Henry designed and made this window you see here, using the same panel of glass but building the sill so that it was waterproof and also fit the newly clad window. These small things take the longest of time, but will be so necessary for when we are actually living in the thing. Not if…when! Also, you can’t see the ceiling here, but Henry took a very, very long time, panelling, bogging and sanding the ceiling so that it is actually seamless and ultra smooth. Many bus-homes keep the rivets or attach lights to the roof, but we wanted a seamless, vast feeling roof, as in actual fact it is really quite low.
The aluminum frame is the box for the drawers which will hold our clothes, the drawers are push to open, which means no handles to catch yourself on. These have all been made, but not installed yet. Bedhead and bed base are yet to come. The base will sit on the drawers and on top of the step you can see behind the drawers. Henry is making this room modular so that it can be turned into a man-cave once we’ve finished traveling. We will actually have quite a bit of floor space in this bedroom, enough for me to do yoga! All the doors (all three: bedroom, bathroom and the little corridor) all have sliding doors which push to latch and push to open and hide inside the walls which are as thin as we could possibly make them by using aluminum framing and ‘Aluwell’.
Below is the other corner of our room, opposite to the cupboard corner, and a spare wall! This kind of thing is a miracle to find in a bus-home and it’s only because of Henry’s excellent design that we managed to do it!
This next picture is from our bedroom looking out to the back of the bus. Between the large living/kitchen area and our bedroom is a bunk for the kids and a bathroom.
Here’s the top bunk, again, thanks to Dr Carl for helping us with this one! We’d never have been able to do it without you!!! I wish you could see the lights on this thing. Strip lighting hides along the top, internal, wooden edge and glows beautiful along the slope of the ceiling. There are no shadows. It will be the perfect reading environment for Soph.
The bottom bunk here, which will be Gunther’s cave. He too has strip lighting along the top, internal edge of his bunk, but it doesn’t quite glow as beautifully as the top bunk. Below the bunks will be covered with a door and baskets for toys and clothes will be under the bed.
From our bedroom now, looking in through the bathroom door. The sliding door is not yet attached for this one, but it’s very easily done and all ready to go, so no problems there. You can also see in the top middle section of the picture the corner edge of the hatch which leads up to the roof. We climb up the bunk bed ladder to get up there. The dream is too put a deck up there…but first things first!
A confusing photo, perhaps, but this is me standing in our bathroom, reflected in our mirror wall. The room is white with a mirror wall on one side (the toilet and sink side) and a red wall on the other (shower) side. Planning on a composting toilet which is currently half built, but not installed.
We have sunk the shower floor down to give us some extra head space and also to allow for a bit of a bathing area for the kids. This is an earlier photo:
Looking from the bathroom into the corridor:
You can see here the Aluminum angle which separates the wall and ceiling. This runs on both sides along the length of the front of the bus (and is also in the main bedroom) and will have LED strip lighting as uplights and downlights, these will be dimmable.
Our most recent achievement (and when I say ‘our’ I mean Henry with a little bit of help from me…he is the real brains and brawn behind this. I often just feel like a cheerleader…but apparently I am absolutely crucial in that role! So he says. :)…anyhoo. Solar power. Solar power has long been a dream of ours as environmentally conscious human beings and so installing this on our bus has been a great feeling…now just to get on the thing and use it!