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Build Addicts: Loui of @adventure_time_loui

Names: Loui and Prince William

Instagram: @adventure_time_loui

YouTube: Adventure Time Loui

About Me:

Hey y’all, I’m Loui! I am an adventure addict who loves music, the outdoors, and questioning social constructs. I am working on converting my 1989 Ford Aerostar with my pittie William! This is my second van build and the smallest space I have ever lived in. I have been documenting my experiences as a female van dweller and this current build on my channel if you’d like to check it out!

What got you interested in this lifestyle? Where did it all begin?

Growing up I was always hyper-aware of climate change and the need to reduce our consumption. Through this, I learned about tiny houses and how they help you live a more sustainable lifestyle. That mixed with the fact that I love traveling and moved a lot as a kid caused me to think in a more nomadic mindset. Thus, leading me to stumble upon videos about people converting their vans and living full time in them. I think it was actually my mom who shared the first van video I ever watched with me.

What made you take the leap into road life and go for it?

In my third year of college, I was paying close to one thousand dollars per month to rent a room in Oakland, CA. I realized that this was exactly what I was trying to get away from. I thought that if I didn’t take the leap after that year was up, I might be stuck in the cycle of giving my hard-earned cash to someone else’s dream or property. That and the combination of craving a lifestyle that allowed me to explore the wilderness and the cultures of North and South America with my home with me was extremely appealing.

If you’re converting a bus or van, how did you find it? What resources did you use?

The van I am converting is actually my second van build. What’s cool about it is it actually was my mom’s van first. I ended up trading my completed build for her Ford Aerostar. We found the van on good ole fashioned Craigslist and took a trip down to LA. It ended up being a really fun trip and we came back with Coco(my van). You can check out the video about it on my YouTube channel!

How long have you been building and when do you think you’ll be finished?

I gutted and started building out my van in April. I was going to take my time building it out as side projects here and there, but now I am aiming to finish by the end of June to be able to spend the whole summer outdoors.

How did you come up with a layout and design for your home?

I think living in my first van build and making tons of design mistakes really helped me understand the functionality you need to have in a small space. I spend a lot of time looking at other minivan conversions and get ideas from there. I am really inspired by the builds that are very minimal because they give off the illusion that there is more space and keeps things less cluttered.

Has your design or layout changed since you started?

There have been a few tweaks here and there because some ideas that I initially had were way more complicated than they needed to be. When I feel overwhelmed by building an idea that I have, I like to remind myself that simplicity is just as good as long as it has the same functionality.

What are some features in your build that you think are unique?

My build will be completely off-grid. Because of the pandemic, it is necessary that I have a way to shower, a place to use the toilet, and ample power. I want my build to allow me independence from needing to go to the gym to shower or relying on finding a bathroom in supermarkets and gas stations, for example.

Some people find it hard to find a building location. Where are you building your rig?

I’m building out my van in a driveway. It can be a little challenging sometimes because it rains A LOT here and it’s not always conducive for what projects I am working on at the moment.

Did you have any relevant skills or experience that you thought would help with the build? How have those skills helped you?

In college, I was privileged enough to take circuitry classes which taught me how electricity works and how to build small circuits. It has helped me look at the electrical setup in my van as just a bigger version of those smaller circuits. It also gave me the confidence to work with electricity in the first place which I feel like can often be the barrier that keeps others from giving it a shot. I feel like coming from the privilege of having that education it is my job to share and break down as many of those barriers as possible.

What has building taught you so far?

Working on this particular build has taught me the importance of taking time in the design process. Allowing myself to sit in the van and really assess the flow of what an average day will look like living in the van has helped guide me in the direction of the design.

What resources have you used to get information on how to build?

I like to explore Youtube far and wide for many different perspectives on builds. I don’t limit myself to just watching van builds. I like to see design solutions from every type of vehicle and every type of person. I’m a huge advocate for using YouTube as a resource if you couldn’t tell already.

How many hours a day or week do you usually spend building? How do you balance work, building, and life?

Currently, due to the pandemic, I have lots of time to spend working on my van. I try to remind myself it is okay to take breaks so my van build week is usually five days and then I spend the other two days taking a break and working on editing and uploading youtube videos about the build.

What tools and equipment are you using to build? How did you go about obtaining tools?

I have been solely using a battery-powered impact driver, drill, and jigsaw. I bought the three in a set. I think if you can have these three tools for your build and for maintenance on the road it is essential.

How will you power, get water for, and heat/cool your rig?

All the power for my rig will be harnessed from the sun, to fill my water tanks I will fill up at grocery stores or other free water fill-up places. The coolest place I ever filled my water up was a spring in Hot Springs, Arkansas. You end up getting pretty creative with finding water. To cool the van I will rely on my fan and sticking to cooler climates. To heat the van I plan on installing a mini stove this winter.

What is the most important part of the build for you?

A cozy place to sleep is the most important part of the build for me. Being able to hop in the van after a long day of exploring is vital!

What has been your favorite part of the build so far? Why?

My favorite part has been seeing the gradual progress of the build. It’s really cool to see where you started and how much you have learned in the process.

Which part of the build are you looking forward to most? Why?

In all honesty, finishing the build. Burnout is a real problem when you have to finish something in a short amount of time. I can’t wait to wake up the first morning after the van is completed and take in all that I have completed!

What has been your least favorite part of the build? Why?

I think my least favorite part has been the number of times I’ve had to go to the hardware store in the middle of a project because I forgot something important.

What has been your biggest challenge throughout the build? Why?

The biggest challenge for me has been dealing with self-doubt. I feel like there aren’t a lot of role models in the DIY community that look like me. So I often find myself questioning if I can actually build something on my own. It’s something I have to work through on a day to day basis.

What is one thing you would like to tell someone thinking about building a rig?

I want anyone who is thinking about building a rig to know that it doesn’t matter your skill or experience level when it comes to building things. That if I can do it, you can too! Just jump in head first and don’t worry about if you are capable. You will come out feeling empowered and with a dozen new skills that you never thought you would have! You got this!

When you finish your build and move in, what will be your first destination?

I am so excited to take off at the end of June to explore more Oregon Wilderness! Then come the Fall I will be headed to the South West region in a caravan with my mom and her dog! However, I’m flexible and really enjoy going wherever the wind takes me!

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