Woman Converts Van Into a Cozy Full Time Home

Atli, a transit bus driver from Vancouver, Canada has converted a van into a comfortable full-time home. Her main reason for the decision to ditch a regular home for a van home were the rising rents.

The home Atli lives in now is a converted 2016 Ford which she nicknamed T-Rex. For insulation they used fiberglass and rigid foam insulation, which aren’t especially sustainable but they are inexpensive.  They also installed a vapour barrier to help prevent condensation from forming, while most of the interior is panelled in wood, which helps keep the interior temperature more comfortable, while also giving the home a more homey feel.

The home part of the van is dominated by a large open space which is used as the main living area. There is also a small kitchen, with a two-burner propane stove and a small sink with a water pump. The home also features plenty of storage space.  The kitchen will be complete as soon as Atli installs a bamboo counter and some additional cabinetry.  There is also a closet in this space.

The bed rests atop a raised platform, which offers even more storage space. This space also has an extra door, which hides Atli’s sitar. They also place a Hypervent mat under the bed, which can be purchased in a marine supply store, and which prevents condensation from forming under the mattress. The table can be rolled out when needed and stored away when not needed.

The van has three skylights, which let in plenty of light. Two can be opened and one is fitted with a mechanical fan to aid ventilation. The van has no other windows, which is something that suited Atli very well since she likes her privacy.

The home also features a combination carbon monoxide and propane gas alarm, and there is also an extra wall and door between the home and the driver’s seat part of the van.  The van has no bathroom, but Atli uses the one at her gym, as well as public bathrooms.

At the back, there’s additional storage space for Atli’s bike, inflatable kayak and other gear. The home is powered by a sola panel that is connected to a Goal Zero inverter, a 100-AmH AGM (absorbent glass mat) battery. The latter is also charged using a solenoid connected to the van’s AGM truck battery.

Downsizing to a van home has allowed Atli to go from being a full time to a part time employee, which has freed up her winters for travel to warmer climates.  There is no word on how much she spent for the conversion, but there is no doubt that she is saving a lot of money by not having to pay rent.

Life on the Road in Style

Here is another van into home conversion done right. It was designed and created by builder, architect and entrepreneur Ross Lukeman who wished to enjoy the digital nomad life in style. He completed his van home about half a year ago and now lives in it full time.

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He used a non-descript white cargo van for the purpose, which he first stripped down completely. The mobile dwelling is barebones, and features a bed, an office space, a sink and closet/storage space. The twin bed flips up to reveal ample storage space. All the amenities and utilities, such as a water tank and batteries, are also hidden out of sight. The office space is very well thought out too. It features a full-size computer that’s mounted on the wall, and can also be used as a TV. All the other office components, including the keyboard, can be safely and neatly tucked away when not in use.

For insulation, Ross opted for a sustainable approach using UltraTouch recycled denim insulation instead of spray foam, which is often seen in projects like this. He also used very little protective polyurethane coating, which he only added in the kitchen. Another great sustainable feature is the solar panel, which provides all the needed electricity for the van. It is a 300-watt LG panel, which is connected to a 200 amp-hour battery bank. The van also features a roof vent fan, as well as an interior box fan. For heating, a propane heater is used.

Ross has been living in his van home for the past eight months and has travelled across most of the west coast in this time. He finances his nomadic lifestyle by helping other people design and covert vans into homes. He also teaches an online cargo van conversion course.

Solar Powered Tiny Travelling Home

Dog trainer Julie Olson found herself in need of a mobile home, so she decided to build a tiny house on wheels. Olson has no architecture training herself, so she made the plans that detailed everything that she wanted her home to have, and sent them to Jason Dietz of Molecule Tiny Homes. It took him about two months to build Olson a home that was in keeping with her specifications. These included 2 loft areas, one of which was to be used as a bedroom, and the other for storage. Olson also wanted a fold out porch, storage stairs, a bathroom and a closet.

The resulting mobile tiny home measures 136-square-feet and is able to provide complete off-the-grid living. It is powered by a rooftop-mounted photovoltaic solar panel, solar batteries, a propane gas tank and a tankless on demand water heater. The home can also easily be hooked up to existing power and water lines. The bathroom is fitted with a composting toilet, as well as a tub, tiny sink and an escape hatch which offers great nature views. The water coming from the tiny home is grey water, which can be used to water a garden, or disposed of by hooking up the home to a city sewer.

The interior is paneled with birch wood paneling, which is quite rigid, and able to withstand the constant movement associated with road travel. The paneling is finished with mineral oils, which works just as well as more toxic wood stain alternatives. The entire kitchen was custom built from wood, since using tiles or any other type of stone in a mobile home is not a good idea due to the fact that it might crack or break on the road. A lot of the fixtures, such as the bathroom and kitchen sinks, were actually purchased from an RV supplier store, since the size is right for a tiny home as well.

The home also has a regular staircase, which makes it easy to get to the loft bedroom. To maximize the available space, a series of storage spaces was built into the side of the staircase. The sleeping loft is 8 by 6 feet, which is big enough for a queen size bed. The tiny house also has vaulted ceilings to appear more spacious. The home has a lot of large windows, to let in as much light as possible, and dispel the feeling of claustrophobia from living in such a tiny home. The ventilation is aided by a ceiling fan that works well to move the air around the house, aided by the wind tunnel created when the windows on both sides of the tiny home are opened.

The tiny house cost $45,000 to build, though Dietz is certain, that this number could be halved if the owner built the home themselves. Part of the reason small homes on wheels cost more per square foot than regular tiny homes, is because road travel requires them to have additional structural support in place. The process of building this tiny home has also inspired Olson to learn how to become a tiny house builder herself. Her plan is to build a bigger house for herself in the next five to seven years.

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