Before You Buy an RV with the Intent to Live in It…


Some of you have been wondering where I am at in this whole RV thing, especially since I have been a bit absent lately. Don’t worry, I did not get lost or fall off the roof or drive into a low-clearance parking garage. Unfortunately I have no real reason for my absence, but I do have an update on where I am at with the RV life.

Through my experiences in the last few months, I thought I’d share some key suggestions for anyone that considers leaving their comfortable apartment to buy and remodel an older RV with known water damage. For some reason I did not have the foresight to think of these things before.

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1. TIME: Think twice before taking on this endeavor mid-October in the rainy Pacific Northwest.

Funny thing. October turns to November, and then December. And each month, it gets a little colder and a little wetter. I don’t know why I didn’t think of the impact of season that much.

Where I’m at: It’s January, and I’m still not living in the RV because the repair/remodel project still isn’t finished. I can’t do much when it’s raining outside. When it’s clear out, the air is freezing. Daylight doesn’t come until after I am at work, and it leaves before I even get “home.”

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2. PLACE: If you still decide to take on this endeavor in fall or winter, then at least consider WHERE you will park the thing, as well as work on it.

A covered area, large garage or workshop would be ideal. You know, a place where rain won’t touch the motorhome. Or snow. A place where it’s safe to plug in extension cords and power tools. Icy winter air can really get to you when you’re sitting on a cold, wet RV roof  scraping old sealant off of every single screwhead in order to replace a leaky, cracked skylight.

Where I’m at: Up until this past weekend, the RV was sitting in front of my parents’ house (my dad loved that). I just moved it in front of a different house for a month. I’m thankful to have been able to park it at my parents’ because I really did not have any plan when I bought it. Thanks mom and dad!

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3. RESOURCES: Everything you expect to be getting yourself into… just multiply it by at least a factor of three.

That applies to how much time it will take, how much money it will cost and how many hours of your life you will spend. Aside from the actual labor time, I cannot believe the amount of hours that have gone into online research, trips to the hardware stores and deep thinking sessions that usually occur when my head is on the pillow and I am supposed to be doing something else (like sleeping).

Where I’m at: I have not yet tallied up all of my receipts, but I know the amount is only getting higher. It has clearly taken much longer, since it’s now 2014.

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4. PERSONAL REQUIREMENTS: Relentless perseverance (aka stubborn pride). If these here words do not describe you, you may want to reconsider what you are considering.

When you have spent all of that time and money working to prevent water from the outside getting into the inside, and you think you are finished and you feel proud and exhausted and happy and satisfied and accomplished, do not rest peacefully. Instead, wait for the next rain. And then, when you enter the motorhome for the first time after that rain to inspect the structure that represents your time and money and sweat and tears, and you find a puddle of water inside, you will want to cry. Trust me on this. You will want to drop to your knees and scream to the heavens I DON’T UNDERSTAAANNNNNDDDDD. You will want to give up. To say eff this. And the only thing that will stop you from doing this will be relentless perseverance (or stubborn pride). It will be the only thing to keep you moving forward. “I said I was gonna do it, and I am GONNA DO IT!”

And then a week of sunny skies will arrive. Literally. And it just so happens to coincide with a long Thanksgiving weekend with free days to work on your ‘project.’ You will feel a renewed sense of hope and determination. I can do this! You will spend more hours, and then more hours. The days will blend together. You will stop showering. You will become the owner of power tools you never even knew existed. You will know the layout of every Home Depot and Lowes in a ten mile radius, and which store to go to for what. You won’t think twice before entering the contractor’s entrance covered in saw dust with a face mask around your neck and a tape measurer attached to your belt loop. You will ask yourself when you became a man, knowing that you are still a woman. Or are you?

And you will start to see progress and really feel a sense of achievement in your motorhome project. And you will feel confident this time that you have really sealed up every single solitary crack and crevice and hole and nook that could possibly be a point of entry for this liquid we call water. And you will excitedly wait for the next rain, knowing this time you are sure you have done good.

And then you will go to inspect. When, to your astonishment, you find a small amount of wet wood in the exact same place, you will want to claw your eyes out. But you won’t. Because that thing called stubborn pride (or is it relentless perseverance?) has somehow snowballed into the strongest sense of can-do attitude you’ve ever known.

Where I am at now: No leaks! Finally, it seems I have sealed it up well. Every time I check the motorhome after one of these good Seattle pouring sessions, I still feel a rush of relief and a little shock that there is no water. It was definitely a struggle, and there were times I started thinking I had made a terrible mistake. But the internet has so much useful information from other people that actually know what they are doing and what they are talking about, so I was able to use that info to build strategies about what I would do next.

Now when something new comes up that I see I need to fix or replace, my initial response is no longer feeling a sense of doom. Instead, I accept this beautiful mess I have gotten myself into, research what needs to happen in order to solve the problem, build a plan and then take action.

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Even after all this has been said, I still wouldn’t change a thing about this experience thus far. It’s all a part of the journey. But I must say, I am definitely looking forward to when this part of the journey is complete and my RV is able to be lived in. Until then…

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