These are the things we wish someone have told us before we started our conversion. It’s been a wild ride and we have had many ups and downs. Building your home on wheels can get tricky, confusing, and even frustrating. So we wrote down 5 important things you should know when crafting a motorhome, which we hope you’ll find helpful.
When we started our bus conversion, we both were so hyped and full of motivation, yet soon enough life got in the way. I fell pregnant so I couldn’t help Chris as much with the build. Mainly because I was so nauseous and fatigued, that I would literally sleep all day and night.
But that wasn’t the only thing. As the saying goes: life happens when you’re busy making other plans. Our car got stolen, we had some financial dramas, we were tired and burnout, stressed and sleep deprived.
Now, i’m not saying this will happen to everyone else just because it happened to us, but be realistic. Some things are likely to get in the way.
The Nobel Laureate, Daniel Kahneman, did a study on this. It’s called planning fallacy. If you’re interested, I highly suggest you have a read. We all often underestimate the time it will take us to complete specific task, so the same happened to us with the bus.
Our advice: if you’re planning to do your conversion, let’s say for six months, add another 4-5 at least. As per money – it will save your life (quite literally) if you have extra few grand put aside just in case. Yet you can never plan what might come up, break or cost extra than what you expected, but more about that later in this post.
Now, this part can depend on where you are, what country or city you live in. But just like everything else – drawing bit of a plan out, and thinking ahead won’t hurt.
We ran into a few difficulties when it came to ordering tiles, sourcing second-hand taps, etc. Eventually you either run out of time and spend more money on something that you really want and like, or get something that doesn’t quite feel right.
In hindsight, we should have thought about our bathroom tiles earlier. Also, we should have ordered our compostable toilet as soon as possible as that took over 2 months to be delivered to Australia. It might not be a case for you, but double check how long such purchases might take to be delivered to your doorstep.
If you’re crafting your motorhome with recycled materials – then this will add more time too. We did our best to source anything we could second hand, yet we eventually ran out of time and bought some things new.
So you might want to research and see what you can get locally, and what not. Also, often it can be cheaper to buy from other cities or even states, rather than the ones closer to you. It might not be the most sustainable way, but for example: most of the places that sold solar panels in Perth also got them shipped from different state. Yet for us ordering online and buying from else were was cheaper.
Pinterest boards, instagram hashtags that you both follow & images you save, blogs and magazines – collect & review them together. Organise a weekly date night when you both sit down and go through it, talk about, and make decisions. It’s important to do so in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.
It’s very likely some of the things might not be as easy to achieve or build, but it can be hard to understand for your other half if they aren’t so hands on when it comes to it. I personally had a few meltdowns because it looked so easy for me from the outside. But it took Chris many hours and lots of patience to complete some of the tasks. Mainly because we didn’t update each other and communicated well throughout the process. So when it came to expectations and reality – there were a few step backs and changes.
Another important note: make sure you both are aware of the timeframe, where about with the project you currently are, what might be taking longer, what needs to be compromised or changed. That you can also do on your weekly date night to keep things exciting and fun.
The build can become overwhelming for both, and you might need to have each others back when it comes to it. Being aware of the current state can make a huge difference. Then it’s not just one person’s responsibility, cause let’s be honest – it’s easy to blame your partner for everything. But when you both are up to date – then it’s you two, not just one.
As mentioned earlier in this post – some things might break down, and there might be a few errors. It’s easier to get passed it when you have some extra money put aside, but that doesn’t mean it won’t crush your spirit.
Failing isn’t fun, and making mistakes can take a toll on you and your partner. But don’t let that get in a way. Make sure you take breaks, live your life and do what makes you happy. In other words – take care of both of yours mental health. Another reason why you should estimate the project to take longer. Even if you feel like you are committed to work long hours cause it’s your dream, it still can get tiring, boring, and frustrating.
Then it’s easy to give up on your great ideas, because you’re tired and over it. Also the easiest option might feel as the best one, but not for the long run. One day that slack job that you did will start annoying you, and remind you that initially you had a better idea.
So whenever the project is getting on top of you – take time off. Catch up with your mates, go and catch some waves, treat yourself and your partner, go out and enjoy a delicious meal. Then get back to it with a refreshed mind, and in better spirits.
We pretty much failed at this part, to be honest. You can read about the sacrifices that we made to get where we are and learn from our mistakes. You’re welcome.
The amount of time Chris spent researching, reading, watching tutorials, trying, failing, trying again, learning and after more trying finally succeeding – is quite ridiculous. Often because he was getting confused with all the information found online, how irrelevant some of it was due to the rules in Australia, some were expired, some weren’t legit, etc.
Even after talking to a few engineers he was confused, because he felt like he already knew more than them, or was aware of the regulations better.
Now here again, a lot can depend on where you are, but when it comes to internet and all the information there – it can be very time consuming. Since we are talking about bus conversion: time = money. Yep, just another reason why you shouldn’t underestimate your build.
Good news is that here we can help! We’ve done all the research and reading, we’ve learnt the hard way after making mistakes so we have special tips & tricks to share with you too. Either it’s solar panel setup, plumbing, heating, cooling, gas set up, passenger seat instalment, build & design – we’ve got you covered.
Checkout our manual which we wish we’d come across ourselves before we started our project, or even while we were in it. It’s never too late, really. It will save your time, money, sanity, maybe even relationship.
Apart from a PDF book with all the short & clear information, you can also expect excel spreadsheets for budgeting, build scheduling, water usage, solar energy calculation, as well as diagrams that will help you with the technical parts of your build.
We hope this will help you with your conversion and we are excited to see or hear about your project. So if you’re just starting, or already in it – keep us posted. Tag @big_little_life_ on instagram, DM us – we’d love to follow your journey!