Things are really starting to move along at Chateau Beauregard. After a week and a bit of work from our carpenter, we now have the queen bed at the back done, with stacks of storage underneath from the hinged bed (super heavy duty, we’ll have to get gas struts fitted to help us lift it), Indi’s sleeping nook, which will have cupboards and drawers underneath – complete with hanging space for shirts and Indi’s school dresses, and Miss Q’s sleeping nook/playing couch, also with a hinged lid for storage underneath. We went and got two foam mattresses made for their beds as they are odd shapes and it’s starting to look really cosy. It also gives Indi somewhere comfortable to play when we’re working in there.
We also have the couch built in the front of the bus, with a hinged lid for storage as well. We spent the weekend priming, painting and staining the walls and beds in the bedroom area. It’s a real lesson in using good quality marine ply for internal walls as I am staining them using polyethelene and some awesome tints in shades of blue, green and purple so that we can see the wood grain but still have beautiful colours. However the wall over the sleeping nook/playing couch is wood that isn’t the best quality and we’re not happy with how it came out. We plan to give it a good sand and paint over it with chalkboard paint so the girls have a place to create their masterpieces. I saw at the hardware store the other day that you can get chalkboard paint in different colours now so we’ll probably go for a fun purple or something like that. We’ll have to install a little shelf or something to catch the chalk dust.
Last night, just as the light was fading (which is early now – today is the first day of Winter) I scraped off the emergency exit stickers etc on the windows and bogged up random screw holes in the walls. The next step is priming and painting the whole upper half of the inside of the bus. The lower half is a dark grey vinyl which we were thinking to replace but it’s actually in really good condition and you won’t see most of it when the kitchen et al is in, so depending on how it looks with the above section painted, we might leave it alone.
The toilet is due to be delivered today and when we’ve got that we can sort out exactly the best place for it and the shower. At the moment we’re thinking that we’ll make a combined bathroom with both toilet and shower in but it will depend largely on how much clearance room we need to be able to take the composting tray out. So, once the bathroom is done, it’s just installing a kitchen and we’re done! It’s so amazing how quickly it’s taking shape.
Indi helping with the sanding in the bedroom, and the end product.
We’re up to day five of the build and it’s getting pretty exciting. The back of the bus is pretty much done from a structural build perspective with just the couch/bed/play area lid to do. So it’s painting and making it pretty time. Indi is pretty stoked with her bed nook and Brad and I got up in there and a normal full sized human could sleep in there pretty comfortably.
Luke will be finishing the couch/bed tomorrow and if he has time in the afternoon, he might start on the couch at the front of the bus. We wanted to get the shower and toilet done next but are still waiting for the toilet to get here from Adelaide and it’s probably best to wait to get it and put it in situ before we work out the exact way the bathroom will sit.
So I think this weekend I will attempt to insulate the ceiling and maybe even line it with some marine ply which should bend enough to curve with the roof. Although, there are a lot of rivets in the roof frame we’ll need to drill out first, argh. Still, it’s super-awesome to see the progress and if we wanted to put mattresses in we could sleep in there now. Might get a bit frosty though, without insulation. Worth it!
Just a quick update with the start of the bed nook build. Indi is pretty excited about the space that will be just for her. I suspect we’re going to have to have a pretty serious discussion about how many toys she can actually fit in there. At the moment she has the biggest bedroom in the house and it’s full – and I mean FULL – of toys. She says she understands that she can’t have them all in her nook with her, there’d be no room for her, but I’m not sure that she quite grasped the idea that she will only get her special things there. In some ways, I think perhaps we’re all going to find going minimal harder than we think, although currently Brad and I are on a purging spree – garage sales, ebay, donating and just throwing out the things that aren’t good enough to give away. It’s a freeing experience and hopefully we won’t miss those things too much. It has felt good to get rid of a lot of clothes, some that I’ll never wear, and some that I’ll never wear again, thank you childbirth 🙂 Luckily I have lots of babe friends who can fit into the special clothes, usually bought at or for music festivals that I’ll never fit in to again but that are too beautiful to just give away to strangers. I’ve even given my wedding dress away. I found some great advice on the internet (I can’t remember the source right now but I’ll quote them if I can find it) who said the best thing to do with items that have a lot of sentimental value but that you’ll never wear or use again is to take a photo of yourself in/with the item, or even better, with the person who gave you the item, if that’s why it’s significant, and if they’re still around. Because really, it’s the memory of that person or time that is important, not the material thing. And obviously I have a lot of photos in my wedding dress but I’ll never wear it again. So anything that isn’t beautiful or useful that will find a home in Ms Beauregard will have to either be rehomed, or if it’s too big to go in the bus, like our piano etc, will have to go in to storage. I’ve packed a few special things away for Indi for when she’s older that she might like to have, like some sherry glasses that were my grandmother’s, but the rest is on its way to a new adventure.
It’s only ten days until Winter here in South Eastern Australia (we live in the Yarra Ranges, among some of the most beautiful forest I’ve ever seen).
This makes working out in our driveway a fairly chilly and wet experience. We came home last night to see that on the first day of the build, Luke has managed to source the material we’ll need for the back sleeping part of the bus, set up his equipment, start cutting and building our bed frame. It is super heavy duty which is good as both Brad and I are not tiny people. It’s already hinged at the back so the whole bed can be lifted up for access to the storage underneath and also because there is internal access to the engine there should we need to go in from the top. He’s also building cute little hideyholes for things and making really clever use of space. We’re lucky to have him. On each side coming forward from our queen bed there will be a sleeping nook for the girls and more storage under there. So. Freakin’. Exciting!
However, there are always lessons to learn and one of them is to expect the unexpected costs and to make your peace with them. Luke quite correctly pointed out that the bus is on a very slight lean to one side, which I guess is to be expected living in the hills however it means that he can’t use a level to make sure that the build is completely straight. This means more work for him in constantly measuring to ensure things are straight. We’ll need to get some levelers under the wheels to fix this but that also means starting her up – and her batteries are flat. So we’ll need to get that sorted too. Also, one of the window seals is leaking quite badly, right where Luke is trying to work, meaning the woodwork will get wet and possibly damage the wood. So the lesson here is, there are always going to be unexpected things that get in the way of what you want to do, and feeling disappointed about that will take away your joy at all of the things that are going right. I’m still working on that, but I have a feeling it will become quite an important skill in working towards making Ms Beauregard a beauty.
I can’t believe it’s been so long since the bus came home to live with us. We decided that we wouldn’t take out any loans or borrow any money to undertake this mission. The whole point is that we do this to free ourselves financially, not make extra burdens for our shoulders. So, it’s taken us this long to save enough money to get started properly. In the interim, we’ve stripped out the seats, the ceiling and the insulation to leave a shell to start building in.
Today is the day that our carpenter Luke is beginning the build on the internals, starting from the back of the bus with our bedroom, then the girl’s sleeping nooks. Then (depending on how much this all costs) moving forward to work on the toilet and shower, the kitchen and finally the living space towards the front. Brad and I hope to be able to help (read: get in the way) as much as possible so we can learn some of the skills. Both of us currently work in offices, so we have little to no experience in how to do anything practical – although I am planning on making some stained glass windows for the toilet and shower area, so we still have some light with privacy, and hopefully beauty, at the same time.
Oh, and we sourced a Sunmar Excel composting toilet from South Australia secondhand and that is being picked up and delivered to us as we speak from my folks’ house. The fact that it has a heating element in it that desiccates the waste to a dry powder means that we won’t need to install blackwater plumbing or a holding tank which saves us more room under the bus for fresh water. Hooray! Who would have thought I would ever be so excited about a toilet?
One of the wonderful things that has helped to kickstart this process was making our first bus friends! Eating breakfast one morning at a local cafe, we saw a really cool housebus parked alongside. Brad asked the friendly, dreadlocked gentleman serving us if it was his (lucky guess) and we were promptly invited inside for a look. Alyce and Paul are bussing their way around the country and interviewing interesting people along the way. They have just left our area for the next leg of their adventure 😦 but you can read about their travels in the Blue Bus on www.bluebusjourney.wordpress.com I would really recommend it.
I can’t wait to get home and see where we’re at!
of your life are you willing to give up to own your own home? That was the question that we started asking ourselves when planning to embark on this most common step that families take. It’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Get married, have kids, buy a house – not necessarily in that order of course. We were both feeling vaguely uncomfortable with the thought of tying ourselves down for the rest of our working lives, just to own a home that we couldn’t afford to spend time in because we would need to work stupid hours to pay for it. That is the unfortunate reality for a growing number of people in Australia and in many places around the world. The question arose: how can we have a place to call our own, and the financial freedom to enjoy it? A particular idea kept cropping up: what about a home that we could move around in? Both of us are working towards careers where we could potentially work remotely. And could we do it without taking out a massive mortgage or loan? Thus, the idea of converting a bus or truck to a home for our family of four, with room for our two enormous dogs (Snowy insists on being in all of the photos) emerged. This is by no means a new idea and there is a very large amount of information on the internet about it, but we’d never done it, nor known anyone who had. We went to see an old 1979 Mercedes Benz School Bus that was for sale not too far from us. Within minutes of seeing it our youngest, Indi, had named the bus Ms Beauregard and, despite our quite adult and sensible decision not to buy the first bus we saw, we were in love. Ms Beauregard has come to completely fill up our driveway, and our hearts. Now the work begins.