With such a huge project, breaking it down into a timeline of steps has been most helpful and is an ongoing process. I still haven't sold the van and am now considering the strong possibility that I will not get as much for it as I was hoping, so my timeline reflects some budget changes. Rather than having enough money up front to deal with several steps at once, I'm now looking at the bare minimum of what's needed to move to the land, set up the bus with preliminary water and power needs, and begin building.
And that's okay. In fact, it's kind of nice to be planning at this more manageable level. I've realized that all I really need for water in the bus is a couple of 55 gallon drums for water, one of which will be placed on the roof of the bus to supply water to the faucet, and the other for water catchment and storage for outdoor needs. There's a community well, and a friend of mine who lives on the Mesa has a pickup truck he's going to let me use to haul water, so I'll just need one more drum or tank to use for transport.
The bus has a simple bathroom with just a toilet, so I'm considering just digging a deep hole under it and using sawdust, as a sort-of indoor outhouse. This definitely wouldn't be a workable longterm setup, but I figure it can work for a few months while I'm building. I'm also planning on setting up an outdoor solar shower.
As for power, ultimately my plan is solar panels, but the cost is prohibitive for me right now, so I'm looking at getting a 2000-watt generator, probably a Honda eu2000i. After scouring the Internet for reviews of different generators, this one seems to have a consistently high rating. My power needs for now are minimal: two laptops, a low-wattage microwave, and two or three lights. No refrigerator, and this is something else I'm thinking a lot about, considering such radical things for the future as building an icehouse and root cellar rather than conventional refrigeration. This line of thought leads into a whole lot of other stuff, like considering what my family eats and why, how I do my shopping, how to eat and shop more simply, how much food I will grow myself. I may end up with a conventional refrigerator once I have solar panels, but in the meantime, I really want to avoid it.
I checked on the bus yesterday and finally took some photos. My short-term goals are simply to get it moved and clean enough to live in, but I've been thinking of longterm possibilities as well. I'd like to keep it around as a guest house and eventually make it look nice and be more liveable (i.e., better insulated). I've been considering the possibility of cobbing the outside of it, and covering the north-facing windows this way for passive solar benefits, but we'll see.
In the meantime, this is what it looks like. Consider these the "before" photos.
|When I looked at this photo, I realized that the colors of the bus match the sky, which is why I've dubbed it "The Sky Bus."|
|Notice the chimney pipe for the woodstove. Brilliant!|
|I love that this bus was made in 1968, the year I was born, and also that it has a New Hampshire license plate: Live Free or Die! As I'm never going to attempt to register this vehicle to drive, I'll leave it on there.|
|Dining and kitchen area. With all those windows, it really feels spacious and airy - another reason to call it the Sky Bus.|
|Sleeping area. Note to self: Remove tire. |
Each sleeping bench is wide enough for a twin-size mattress. Sweet!