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Build Addicts: Nefta, Liz, and Bonbon of @you.van.me

Names: Nefta, Liz, and Bonbon

IG: @you.van.me

About Us:

We are Nefta, Liz, and Bonbon. We bought our van on December 31st, 2019. We named him Lincoln. We are in the process of converting Lincoln into our new home. We are excited for this new adventure, and we can’t wait to move in and hit the road. You can follow us on our Instagram @you.van.me (link above)!

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

Pursuing a minimalistic and debt-free life. It all began when we saw our first video about skoolies. We were amazed at how homey and adventurous it looked. We pondered about the idea for a few months, but we always knew that a skoolie was too big for us. A couple years later we came across a van conversion video. We knew van life was perfect for us!!

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

After watching a lot of YouTube videos about what type of vans were out there, we decided that a brand new Ford Transit High Roof Extended with a gas engine was the best option for us.

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

We have have been building since March (about two and a half months) and are hoping to finish by the end of July.

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

We watch a lot of youtube videos and read blogs about van life, van conversion, van tours. We watched and read until we knew what we wanted in it. Our favorite blog is from faroutride.com

Has your design or layout changed since you started?

Our design/layout has changed a bit. We decided we will not put a Happijac, we made our benches shorter, and we didn’t add a dividing wall between the driving area and living area. There was a lot of back and forth with many ideas, but we finally came to a decision to stick with one that will give us more space.

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

We decided to rent a house with a double garage door to build and store all the materials. The van is parked on the driveway and we work inside the garage.

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

Nefta has plumbing, woodworking, and mechanical skills. Liz has an eye for design and is detail-oriented. Our skills combined covered the basic skills we needed to start the van build. We had to learn many things along the way and have more to learn. YouTube helps a lot, you can learn so much. A big thanks to all the Van Life YouTubers out there!!

What has building taught you so far?

That the most important skills are the willingness to learn and the patience to make mistakes and the desire to see the finished product.

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

We have used Youtube, blogs, and a Facebook community group: DIY Cargo Van Conversion by Faroutride. People are friendly and willing to take the time to answer any question you have.

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

We work 4-5 days out of the week. On the weekends we work the whole day and on weekdays we start around 6:30 pm and end around 9:30 pm. This has become our second job and everything we talk about these days. We basically work and whatever time we have left we use it to build our van and rest. We have no social life like everyone else because of COVID-19 so if you look at it in a positive way, we have more time to work on our van!!

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

Most of the tools we own. We mostly used the miter saw and regret not buying a table saw and band saw. The tools I had to buy were a jigsaw, circular saw, and Kreg jig.

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

The way we are getting power is by using shore power, 6x100W solar panels, and a 60A B2B that will charge our 600AH batteries. Our water will come from family, friends and any camping ground. We have a Webasto heater, Maxxfan and a Dometic AC. We will have to use shore power for our AC but the rest is powered by our batteries.

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

Liz: The Kitchen and bench area. I love baking so it was important for me to have an oven and space to prep. I also enjoy relaxing on a comfy couch and cuddling with Nefta and Bonbon while watching a movie. Nefta: The electrical, because it gives light, power, and life to the van.

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

Liz: Every time we put in something new it becomes my favorite part because it’s our first time doing everything so it feels like an amazing accomplishment. Nefta: The fan and AC because it was hard work, especially the AC but it turned out great!

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

The end, we want to move in and call it our home!!

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

All the times we had to re-plan because it didn’t fit or it just didn’t work like we thought. Nefta says, “It’s 80% planning and 20% doing.”

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

It’s hard work and time consuming, but it's worth every little bit because you're building your own tiny home exactly the way you want it.

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