When an adventure is big enough, or has enough energy behind it, a team naturally grows.
The seed for this adventure was sown 10 years ago when I decided I would have an adventure at 50. But it was lay dormant until three months ago when a close friend sent me a link about a young woman living in her teardrop camper. The seed was watered and the sun has been shining just right over this project ever since. Energy started to build.
I found myself on YouTube, Pintrest and Instagram, exploring sites related to van conversions, nomadic life and tiny-houses. I started to feel part of something interesting and creative and I enjoyed reading about and seeing the variety of set-ups and possibilities for a conversion van. This exploration was like a rich compost and my ideas just kept growing.
Once I bought a van, I had the skilled help of a wonderful friend who created the adjacent drawing for me. This was so helpful and he became the first official member of my team! It clarified my vision, helped me correct a couple design flaws and allowed me to show others clearly what I wanted to do. ( actually very difficult to describe in words alone). Things have changed a bit since this drawing, but I feel very sentimental about it and like to reflect on where I began.
With my groovy picture in hand, I went in search of a Van Wizard. The universe delivered me to the doors of VOS Trailers, in Stittsville, where I was offered not just one wiz, but two!
Carolyn and her brother Gord run this family business with their father, and helped me decide on products and clarify safety issues related to propane and in-house batteries.
I must have visited a dozen times and asked hundreds of questions and they always welcomed me with a smile. We would talk about a product one day, and it would magically appear in their shop the next. If something didn’t fit, they took it back. They were genuinely excited about what I was doing, which made visiting them a delight, even when I was parting with vast amounts of money. Thanks to their expertise I have a water tank that fits perfectly in my cubby, a little pump and a perfectly fitting sink, a regulator for my propane tank, portable but powerful solar panels, a safe battery and an inverter. I’m going to give them a little shout-out, because they are just that awesome. http://www.vostrailers.ca/
You may not be able to get to my Van Wizards at VOS, but do search out someone equally knowledgeable about campers and conversions in your area. Someone you feel comfortable talking to. A word of advice – if you are starting with zero knowledge, visit your neighbourhood RV store during the off-season, or ask them when its best to come in. Beginning in late April, things get pretty kooky with people getting their homes-on-wheels ready for the the season. Although I didn’t cultivate relationships at the Marine Supply Shop, I would also suggest you check one or two of these as well. They have loads of widgets and gadgets specifically designed for little spaces.
Finding the right builder was the next step, and not an easy one. There is a tremendous amount of communication required for this sort of project and I had initial conversations with a couple of people before finding what I now feel was a perfect match. Carpenters come in many incarnations, and each one has a different skill set. As someone with zero carpentry or design knowledge, assessing their skills can be very challenging.
Once again, the Universe saw fit to give me a two-for-one deal, and I was delivered a designer and a carpenter! These two gentlemen came with a solid internet presence, excellent online reviews, many years of combined expertise and an equipped workshop I was able to visit before making a final decision.
Here is my build team – Marty Habicht, designer/engineer and Brainiac Extraordinaire http://mhhawk.com/ and Justin Goto, whose brilliance I am soon going to witness. These two guys have gone into business together, with Marty as Contractor and Justin as builder. http://www.gotocarpentry.ca/
All initial meetings have been with Marty, who skillfully broke this project down into logical steps, putting me at instant ease. His comfort with project management and ability to meticulously measure and remeasure, think and rethink inspired confidence. My brain often gets tired trying to keep up with him! His consistent contact and methodic way of approaching tangible challenges has been awe-inspiring. I’m learning all the time. I haven’t told him this, but I like to think of myself as his apprentice. It’s been wonderful to work side by side with such a skilled engineer and learn the art of being systematic. Which I happen to suck at. We also laugh a lot and he tolerates my dumb sense of humour. Finally, neither seem to think I’m crazy to do this and I think they might even be sort of pleased to be part of it.
A week ago, after much design work (and the birth of Justin’s second child!) it was time to start the build. I handed the reigns, and the keys, over to them at the shop in Carlton Place. Today I will make the 45 minute drive (in my rental car) to visit the shop and see how things are going. After a month of working with Marty to draft the final plans, it’s now Justin’s time to do his magic.
My adventure grew a Team. The V-Team.