Build Addicts: Brittany of @whereis_brittany
Name(s): Brittany Newson
YouTube: Where is Brittany
Hey everyone, my name is Brittany and I’m a very petty, optimistic, Air Force veteran.
For me, buslife has helped me rediscover what makes me happy. During my time in the Air Force, I lost so much of myself because I conformed to who they wanted/needed me to be. After 11 years, 2 months, and 23 days…I now have the freedom to just be ME. I am currently remodeling my 4 window shorty named Domino and I am documenting the process on my Instagram (link above).
What got you interested in this lifestyle? Where did it all begin?
My buslife journey started after my second year at San Francisco State University. I was paying $1300 a month to rent a room in a house with four other people. After doing that for a year, I started to research alternative living and #vanlife started me down the rabbit hole and I have never looked back.
If you’re converting a bus or van, how did you find it? What resources did you use?
I am currently remodeling my 1998 Chevy 3500, 4 window Bluebird Short Bus, (whew, now say that fast, 3 times). I found Domino on an online auction site, purchased without seeing or testing driving her. I will not list the website because I do not recommend ANYONE doing what I did. But I digress; I got her for $3200, but so far, I think I have put about $3000-$4000 additional dollars into her for mechanical reasons alone. [ insert Chrissy Teigen’s Golden Globe meme]
At the time of purchase, (9 Jun 2019), Fall semester was three months away and I needed to make moves. So, I took the jump, made the purchase, and got to work.
How long have you been building and when do you think you’ll be finished?
Domino was livable with solar, running water, and furniture around Oct 2019, but she’s now being remodeled. I am currently working on the biggest project, the kitchen, which should be completed in a week or so. I am hoping she will be fabulous by the end of August.
How did you come up with a layout and design for your home?
My design is like The Nomadic Movement’s layout, but I have a crawl in closet. My bed sits up 3 feet and I have hanging clothes and my solar batteries underneath.
Has your design or layout changed since you started?
So much is changed in my build. Initially, when I came up with my layout, I thought everything was exactly where it needed to be…but I was wrong. I had hinges in weird places, I was constantly bending over, and those inconveniences really made it difficult for me to do simple things. I think I am finally getting it right with this remodel.
Some people find it hard to find a building location. Where are you building your rig?
Both the initial build and remodel is being done in the driveway of my apartment. There is zero space, complaining neighbors, and Reno, Nevada heat but you make it work!
Did you have any relevant skills or experience that you thought would help with the build? How have those skills helped you?
Before building out Domino, the only power tool I had used was a drill. Everything I have learned for this build has been through YouTube. I watched tons of videos, (mainly female builders), and use them as inspiration. “She got this, I got this!”
What has building taught you so far?
This build has taught me to stop second guessing myself and just go for it. In the beginning of the build, I wasted so much time talking myself into making the first cut and deciding on my layout. Now, I just go for it. It's literally just wood AND there’s this thing called wood filler that I now love!
What tools and equipment are you using to build? How did you go about obtaining tools?
For tools, It’s very simple… Jigsaw, Drill, Oscillating tool THAT IS IT!!! I do wish I had a table or circular saw; perfect, straight lines are every woman’s dream. Unfortunately, for me, I just don’t have the storage space for it. And to be honest, you can make magic happen with just those tools…you just have to put in a little extra work.
How will you power, get water for, and heat/cool your rig?
Domino has a 320-watt flexible solar panel on the roof, that charges (2) 120 ah batteries. I also have a portable 400-watt battery pack, (similar to a Jackery), and a 120-watt flexible solar panel to recharge it.
Heating is simple- I have a large Mr. Buddyheater and a super cute indoor tabletop firepit. The firepit is awesome because it doesn’t require ventilation, however, the downside is the flame only last about 40 mins.
What is the most important part of the build for you?
To be completely honest, it might sound like the wrong answer, but the most important part of the build for me is the mechanical build of Domino. That stressed me out so much in the beginning of this journey, it was hard for me to enjoy it.
Now, with all the time and money spent on getting her mechanically sound…Domino herself is the most important part of my build.
What has been your favorite part of the build so far? Why?
The remodel has been my favorite part. With Covid halting the world, I have been able to sit and think about what I want to see when I wake up. I have added so many beautiful bright colors and GLITTER to Domino I smile every time I open her doors.
This remodel is fun for me! I trust myself with tools. I trust myself to make important build decisions. I know what I want this time around and I’m not afraid to make it happen.
Which part of the build are you looking forward to most? Why?
Can I say, the end?! Because that’s how I feel lol. I can already see it completed in my head. If I can’t say that lol my second thing is decorating! Adding beautiful plants, pillows, lights, and covers to the space is going to be so rewarding. I did not decorate in my first build, probably because it didn’t feel like me. But this time around, it's ALLLLLLLLL me and I am going IN!!
What has been your least favorite part of the build? Why?
If I could hire someone to sand the wood, I WOULD!!! Look, I didn’t sand during the initial build…yea. Crazy right!! This time around, I am doing things the right way and it SUCKS!! Sanding SUCKS. I use the oscillating tool with the sanding adaptor and it’s the worse. My poor hand and shoulder, I honestly don’t know how I am even typing this. But yea, SANDING SUCKS!!!!
What has been your biggest challenge throughout the build? Why?
Ugh did I mention SANDING?! So, here’s the thing, not only do I use an oscillating tool, but I also suffer from a shoulder injury. While in the Air Force, I served in the Honor Guard for a year. In the Honor Guard, I rendered military honors to veterans who have died. During a funeral detail that I was assigned to, I pinched a nerve in my shoulder, (carrying a casket), that has never healed. The constant squeezing and vibrations really make it hard for me to do a ton of sanding all at once.
What is one thing you would like to tell someone thinking about building a rig?
Self-doubt has halted many dreams from becoming a reality and I think the most important thing is to not second guess yourself so much. Yes, measure twice, or three times if you have to, BUT, when you need to make those big decisions know that you are making the right decision AND to be honest, most things aren’t permanent. Maybe you can remodel in a year like me!