Break it down to build it back up

Phase Two aka the Final Build Phase aka the Tiny Home Phase aka Lisa’s Rest Day Getaway Phase is officially underway!

For those who need a quick refresher, Phase One was a “dirty build” to get us through our first few months adventuring from Seattle to Chicago. It was purely functional and used as a time to figure out if we liked the layout. We lived out of Rubbermaid bins and everything was secured to the floor using wooden planks, drilled directly onto the factory flooring. And it worked GREAT (minus the panty explosion of 2017). However, we didn’t have heat and we had to go into town for ice, water, and a power charge two times/week. It wasn’t sustainable for the off-grid travel that we desire. Hence, the Phase Two build.

We are incredibly fortunate to have access to a huge warehouse that we can use to accomplish our build. Seeing as how we’re here during a Chicago winter, this is AMAZING. There are tools at our disposal, and most importantly, someone who knows how to use them (Colin, aka Sensei).

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So, what have we done so far?

  1. Stripped Vaniel back to basics. With the exception of insulation and sound-deadening, he looks just like he did five months ago when purchased.
  2. Installed a swivel seat on the passenger side (note for other builders: we installed a driver’s side swivel seat to allow for more space between the two seats). It raises the seat about 1.5″ but it’s not that noticeable and, as a shorty, I’ll never turn down some additional height.

    van build swivel seat
    You don’t work. You don’t get a seat. Vaniel’s rules.
  3. Removed the headliner above the cab and added Noico 80 mil sound deadening and 3M thinsulate for insulation.

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    One foot on a ladder. Another on a bucket. Safety comes first in our operation.
  4. Used up all of our additional Noico 80 mil sound deadening throughout the van (in total, we used 72 ft). Wasting not, we also applied some to the floor.

    van build sound deadening
    Anyone looking for a good arm workout need look no further.
  5. Added 3/4″ polyiso insulation to the roof and missing sides. Finish with Great Stuff Pro.

    van build insulation
    Another good arm workout for those looking to change up their routine.
  6. Removed factory floor and traced templates onto the 3/4” polyiso insulation and 3/4” maple wood. Cut said templates.
  7. Figure out tie-down holes for the final flooring. Drill. I’m making it sound much easier than it was.
  8. Added polyurethane to the maple flooring for water protection to ensure that if water should get down there, our wood won’t warp. Note: “fast-drying” is 3-4 hours. Not exactly what I’d call fast… waiting for round two to dry right now.van build floor
  9. Cut many strips of thinsulate, complain about tired hands, and mount thinsulate to the interior side and back door panels.
    van build thinsulate
    Black stuff in door well = thinsulate.

    It has been a scattered four days of work and we’re already making great progress! Next week will be our first time putting in a full work week since we quit our jobs. That’s a crazy thought… Game on!

Author: Lisa

Over one year in van life and loving it. Hiker, rock climber, novice mountain biker, and professional napper. Official “documenter” of our time with Vaniel. Favorite podcast: Stuff You Should Know.

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