Saturday, May 13, 2023

The Reality of RV living during Construction

RVs are really made out of cardboard and stickers with a hard shell.

Even in the middle of this building project, we found ourselves talking about the "next" house. You can't help it really, you think of things when you are building that it is too late to add in or take from and before you know it you have said it: "in the next house..." Then we would ask, do we really want to go through with this again?? The main thing that would stop me from repeating this process is having to live in an RV. 

The "living room" slide-out. Slide-outs are notoriously leaky and must be carefully leveled and maintained.  The shelves above were either crammed with clothing or books. The couch becomes a bed but only for someone less than 5 feet tall. It counted as a double bed but I think that was just a joke. 

I found some pictures of the RV when it was clean-- which I think was only three times-- and thought  it was time for another post on "RV living," just in case I can discourage anyone from trying it. Of course, if you can get your house built in 6 months that is a different matter. I suppose if I had some heavenly guarantee that we not only could but would build the next house in 6 months I might be tempted; but I think I would rather live temporarily in a "tiny home" type structure (made of real wood and insulated) instead of an RV, and use it afterwards for a guest house. 

The kitchen was invaded by mice, who were using the wee oven/stove for access, so we blocked it all up and used countertop appliances instead. Covering up the stove allowed us a little more counter space. Eventually the microwave left and we gained more storage space. Anything left in the drawers had to be in covered containers. Eventually everything went to the house to "temporary" kitchen setups of which I have blogged about before. The vacuum cleaner you see there is an absolute necessity if you are on a construction site. If I had to do it again (and could keep the mice out), I would opt for the RV with the biggest kitchen. 

As grateful as we were for shelter,  I felt times of discouragement living in the RV. First of all, it is dim all the time because of tinted windows. After a while that gets you down.  The weather became very cold (how about 10 degrees in October!) and it was especially felt by the feet. Even if the furnace works, RVs are not insulated as well as houses. And in the summer you bake (but to be honest it is much nicer in a dark RV with smelly AC blowing than it is outside when it is 105F). I suppose if we had had a park shelter to put the RV under we would have fared better all around, but that is not an amenity on most building sites. 

This area was the place where some of us could sit down to eat. Schoolwork was done here (the top shelves being crammed with school supplies). Under the benches were the blankets and every night one of the kids patiently turned this into a bed for themselves. Although advertised as a double bed I think that was just a joke. 

One morning our RV electrical system bit the dust. We were glad it died a slow (but smokey-smelling) death and not through a fire or something. But wouldn’t you know it would be a Saturday and no RV place was open.

The only thing really affected was our hot water. We were using an extension cord for our other things. We couldn’t run more than one thing at a time anyway, so no difference there! We were already running a space heater at night because our furnace was on the fritz, so no difference there either. Dishwashing was more of a chore. At least we had running (cold) water and working drains unlike in winter!

The TV was replaced with bookshelves which housed more schoolbooks and, for a while, diapers. 
Even with the help of storage bays, this RV was meant for weekend camping not living. You have to have a faithful minimalist if you want to live in an RV.

The RV repairman that came out fixed everything, but we had a further restriction. Apparently you are not supposed to run an RV off of a 100 foot extension cord, no matter how "heavy duty" it was. We were too far from our electric box but there was no getting the RV any closer on that hill. We had to cut back on things like plug-in appliances.

(When I suggested to the building crew that this would be a good time to hook up the hot water heater at the house, my idea was met with the usual dampening expressions and cold-water-pouring on my hopes. It is impossible, of course, and can only be done in a certain order behind other phases, and then will take many weeks of little but arduous tasks.)

This RV advertised "sleeps 10" but in reality that means 10 short children and the adults have to go elsewhere or amend the RV to fit. I previously blogged how we took out the "queen" bed in this room and were able to make one regular sized twin as a daybed. But it wasn't all bad: in the other end of the RV was a bunk room with 4 beds and plenty of storage, which was the really good thing about this model for a family with children. 

Eventually we started a bit of a shift in the way we were using the RV, and it had to do with one Autumn night when it was going to be 9 degrees outside.  We had a 100 gallon propane tank (don't try to run things on those dinky travel tanks when you are living in an RV!) and I saw that it was time for a propane refill. To refill that propane tank would cost as much as a sink or another big item for the house. So we brought out mats up to the house (where there was heat running anyway) and “camped,” only going down to the RV for showers to minimize the propane usage. And we continued to "camp" back and forth as the winter got colder. 

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