Saving Money on a Renovation

As we are on the final leg of our Avion restoration I thought I would share some money saving ideas we used during the process. 

Let me preface this by saying, a full restoration is NOT cheap but it is possible to save some money on some things that would otherwise be expensive or time consuming. 

Here is our list!

  1. Paint: Probably the cheapest way to make a dark RV interior come to life for very little money. I estimate we spent around $275 in paint and supplies.  Of course, the hours I put into painting were crazy but it was worth it IMO. It makes everything so clean and bright!
    Cabinets – before and after
  2. Reusing old hardware:  I admit I wanted new hardware but when I added up all the cabinet doors and drawers I quickly realized the cost was more than we were willing to spend. So for a $4 can of spray paint I saved us over $200! 
    Hardware – before and after
  3. DIY:  This is definitely the big one!  Being handy will save you BIG BUCKS!  Even if you don’t know how to do something, I can guarantee that there is a YouTube video showing you how to do it. If you can follow instructions then you can do it! Also, having friends who are willing to lend their expertise helps too. While we could have built our lounge area ourselves, our friend Doug is a master carpenter and he made it much better than we could have. Knowing your strengths is key! But don’t be afraid of researching how to fix something. Sometimes it is easier than you think!
    The Lounge – even though our friend Doug built it, I did the cushions myself!
  4. Modify:  for example, we had to replace our awning fabric. Since our Avion has curved sides there is a curved arm bracket for the hardware. It’s the original Zip Dee awning hardware. We called Zip Dee and got a quote – $1300 just for the fabric! 😳. So we looked around and found awning fabric on Amazon for $200. We modified the awning fabric on our original hardware and made it work. Now we have an awning for very little money! Think outside the box!! 
    Using rivets to attach a modern awning fabric to a vintage awning hardware
  5. Consider all electric:  the fridge in our RV was no good. We had no choice but to replace it. Again we wanted to save money and by going with an Energy Star all electric fridge we saved almost $1000! Money that will be applied to our solar that will easily run this fridge while boondocking. And if you don’t boondock then an all electric fridge is a simple choice! Also, we have the added benefit of having more fridge space as the electric models don’t have all the gear on the back that the propane fridge does. And it fit in the same cabinet! Amazon for the win again! 
    New “stainless” electric fridge!
  6. Consider whether it’s a “need” or a “want”:  Sometimes the best way to save money is just to not buy something! I know, what a crazy concept, right? But sometimes there are things you can just live without. For example, I really wanted a Precision Temp hot water heater when it was apparent we had to replace ours. But again, it was a $1000+ so we said no to that dream and went with a $380 6 gallon propane one instead. 
    New 6 gallon water heater
  7. I wanted to get new countertops but again, the cost was more than we could bear. So the next best option was to redo existing countertops with an epoxy makeover! I was skeptical at first that they could make our countertops look decent again but I figured for $90 it was cheaper than the alternative. And you know what? They turned out really well! The one kit had enough to be able to do the kitchen, bathroom, desk and shelf behind the lounge! Definitely a money saving win!  And the kit can be used on almost any surface. 
    New “granite” countertops!
  8. Electrical and propane:  sometimes these systems seem daunting but with a little research the problems can be easily solved. Get yourself a test light and learn how to check for blown fuses. The 12 volt system is a pretty basic system and is easy to learn. Now be careful with the 110 system! Unless you know what you’re doing we recommend an electrician. Propane is also fairly simple and with a little working knowledge you can easily repair minor leaks or install a new changeover regulator! Just be careful to follow all safety procedures. If you don’t know what those are then seek a professional. 
  9. Don’t be afraid of hard work! Putting the effort into your remodel yourself will save you a ton of money. Granted, it might take you longer than a professional but you’ll have the satisfaction of having accomplished all this yourself. It’s a great feeling! Obviously, know your limits (especially with electrical or propane) but don’t be afraid of getting dirty! ☺️

In conclusion, our remodel of this vintage rig has been expensive due to having to replace some of the main components but the fact that we were able to do these things ourselves made the cost more bearable. If we had taken this rig to Camping World or some other RV repair place the cost would have been sky high!

And while we are nearly done with all the major stuff we know that down the line we will need to do more repairs. After all, Armani is nearly 40 years old!  ☺️ But we also know if something comes up we have the skill and moxi to be able to fix whatever is necessary.  And it’s a lot cheaper than repairing something in a sticks and bricks!

That leads me to one other thing especially if you are hitting the road for the first time. This life is not magically perfect! The same issues you had in your home WILL happen in an RV. How you deal with those issues is the biggie. The key is having fun and being able to enjoy this beautiful country in the process of tackling these issues. That’s what it’s all about! 

Cheers!!

Shelly & Mark ~ Boondock or Bust

Avion Before Photos

I thought I would give you a look at the interior of our 1979 Avion 28J before I start sharing our restoration photos.

1979 Avion 28J – the skin is in great shape! We need to install a new awning though as the original is gone.

Someone had done some “renovations” of their own many years ago in the lounge area and added some parquet stick on flooring over the original linoleum so of course all of that is getting removed and redone.

The kitchen and lounge area before demo. Someone had applied sticky floor tiles to the original linoleum. Ugh.

Everything else had been left pretty much original though so we wanted to keep the vintage feel but make it a more modern living space.  Paint can go a long way in making a space gorgeous!

Kitchen stove and sink. The stove/oven works! The sink is too shallow and will be replaced.  Countertops will be redone and a backsplash will be installed.
The original cabinetry. It looks good at a distance but there were many holes that needed patching so the cabinets will be repainted.

We’ve already begun the restoration. We have removed the old non-working fridge, hot water heater, water pump and toilet. All new items have been ordered and/or installed. We are going with an all electric fridge. (We will explain our reasoning behind this decision in a future post.)

The fridge and old wall heater are gone now.
Looking back down the hallway you see the bedroom and the rear bathroom.

We still haven’t tested the AC unit to see if it works as we don’t have 30 amps at the house. Once we get it back to a livable condition we will plan a short trip to a local RV park to check it out. If it does work then we are on the hunt for a shroud and interior cover for it. If it doesn’t work then that’s an item for the future.

We are also still working on the furnace. Fortunately parts for it are easily obtained and we know we can get it back to par again. Basically that’s the only major item we haven’t had to replace yet! But, we bought this rig for its bones and exterior. We anticipated replacing all the major items so we knew what we were getting into. It’s a labor of love but we don’t plan on letting this baby go so we are in it for the long haul!

The large rear bath. Toilet had to be replaced.

And of course, another item on the agenda is solar. (We are Boondock or Bust, after all!) After having done the off grid cabin thing (and previous RV solar) we know what we need in terms of power. Again, that’s for the future but all I can say is that I’m so glad the cost of solar is going down!

As we’ve started on the renovations already I will be sharing as we go along. The lounge area is nearly complete so that post will be coming soon. It’s going to look gorgeous!

Tiny House and Land For Sale

The tiny house cabin

Due to serious health issues we have decided to put our tiny house cabin and land up for sale. 😞

Mountain Cabin with great views and abundant wildlife to call your neighbors.

Details:

600 watt solar system that includes solar panels with a battery set up with 600 Amp hours, Go Power 1500 watt inverter with and a 12 volt electrical system with LED lights etc.

Cabin has a 200 watt wind generator to provide additional on site power.

The interior bath features a Natures Head composting toilet and a separate indoor shower. There is a refillable water storage tank with pump.

Tankless hot water heater runs on propane.

Propane wall mount heater. Kitchen has a refrigerator (runs on solar) and cooking stove and kitchen sink with counter tops.

Cabin has a covered front porch and a 10′ X 20′ rear deck with fire pit and Sail Shade provides shade .

Property has a separate level gravel RV pad and terrific view and a timber covered hills. The Rio Chama Valley offer the best in all kinds of outdoor recreational activities for all 4 seasons of the year. El Vado Lake is just a short drive to great boating and fishing. If you are looking for a “Tiny House” this one is ready to go.
$44,900

Click on this link to see the MLS listing on Zillow:

https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/Lot-36-UNIT-4-Tierra-Amarilla-NM-87520/2094669932_zpid/

See below for additional photos. Click the images to view full size!

Christmas in Quartzsite

Christmas & New Year’s Eve

Back to Quartzsite we go!  Our plan was to have a nice quiet Christmas and NYE with minimal fuss and we certainly achieved that.  This time we we stayed on the north side of town at Plamosa Road BLM area.  This area is nice and quiet and a lot further out in the desert than Dome Rock.  Our closest neighbors were half a mile away and there was a real sense of peace and tranquility.

All set up at Plamosa Rd BLM!
All set up at Plamosa Rd BLM!

Our two weeks at Plamosa was pretty nice.  Most days were sunny which afforded us long walks with great desert views!  And what clouds we had really helped give us spectacular sunsets!

A riot of color!
A riot of color!

Christmas day found us in the kitchen!  Mark made fabulous lox and bagels to start our day along with yummy mimosas!

Then for dinner we had the most yummy – PRIME RIB (if you don’t like red meat, look away now lol)!  Our prime rib was made Paula Deen style (recipe here), with smoky green beans & bacon and herb roasted red potatoes.  TASTY in the extreme!  Dessert was Rum Chata over ice!

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve found us walking a lot (had to burn off that dinner!) and just taking short drives around Quartzsite.  People were starting to roll in and the place was really filling up all around town!

For New Year’s Eve we again planned a quiet day/night.  While in California we had gone to Costco and found a huge magnum of Prosecco!  My favorite!

We enjoyed a wonderful day of reflection and all that we had done, seen and achieved in 2015.  We know that 2016 brings a lot of fun things for us and perhaps some changes as well.

We will be working on our new property this summer and well as taking a trip out to South Carolina in August when our daughter graduates from college!  This is such a huge achievement in her life and we are so proud of her and all she has accomplished.  🙂

We also hope you and your family have a wonderful, safe and healthy New Year!  May 2016 bring you everything you could ever desire or deserve.

Happy New Year!!
Happy New Year!!

Ok, now where was I?

Oh yes… on to Quartzsite!

The holidays kind of got me sidetracked.  We left New Mexico on November 2nd with the intention of stopping in Quartzsite and taking it all in before heading to California for the holidays.  Since we had never been to “The Q” before I checked out Wheeling It’s blog to see where they recommended.  There are many BLM areas in Quartzsite that are free 14 day stays as well as an LTVA area (Long Term Visitor Area) where you can pay to stay ($180 from Sept 15-Apr 15).  That area includes a dump station and water.  The basic BLM areas provide no services at all.

Ahhh... all set up!  Time to relax.  Our spot at Dome Rock BLM
Ahhh… all set up! Time to relax. Our spot at Dome Rock BLM

We took Nina’s recommendation and stayed at the Dome Rock BLM area.  It’s a pretty basic desert BLM area with a lot of large flat surfaces to camp on.  It’s on Dome Rock Rd that gets a lot of traffic and Interstate 10 isn’t too far off so there is a bit of road noise but it has easy on/off highway access and for a 2 week stop it worked out perfectly.

The town of Quartzsite is quirky, to say the least.  It is basically one big rummage sale with a few good deals thrown in.  Since we arrived the first week of November there wasn’t a lot going on really but that was alright with us.  We spent a lot of time enjoying the abundant sunshine, had tacos at Taco Mio (awesome tacos!) and managed to get our pizza fix on at Silly Al’s.

We made a couple of day trips as well.  Lake Havasu City is a MUST SEE as well as the London Bridge!  If you’re ever in the area you must get there to see this beautiful place.  The river is glorious, the town is pretty cool and the drive is breath taking!

One really great thing about this life is you get to meet some amazing people!  Laurie & Scott of LaurieandScott.com contacted us to let us know they were heading to Quartzsite and would love to get together.  Awesome!  So we met up with these two wild and crazy kids at Beer Belly’s Adult Day Care.  Beer Belly’s is an open air bar in the middle of everything!  At the time we were there they were not serving food but apparently when they do they have great burgers.

As things worked out, we had a great time with Laurie & Scott!  They even camped with us one night and we had so much fun chatting with them.  They are such great people! (Instagram @laurieandscott).  They are really into health and fitness and offered a bunch of great ways to stay healthy on the road!  If you’re struggling with diet and fitness or just need some encouragement, by all means, contact these wonderful people!  They are fabulous coaches and will help you reach your goals while still enjoying life!  Everything in moderation, people. 🙂

With Laurie & Scott at Beer Belly's!
With Laurie & Scott at Beer Belly’s!

We also managed to meet Wheeling It (Paul, Nina, Polly & the cat crew) in person!  I’ve been following their blog for years and they are truly the sweetest people.  Extremely helpful and Nina knows her stuff when it comes to finding the best boondocking sites!  It was a brief meet and greet with promises to get together in Desert Hot Springs for happy hour.  Our kind of people! 🙂

After spending two weeks enjoying the free camping it was off to California – and the HOT SPRINGS!!  A month of visiting family for Thanksgiving & Hanukkah and soaking in hot pools of glorious spring water.  Ahhhhh!!!

Goodnight, Quartzsite!  See you in a month!
Goodnight, Quartzsite! See you in a month!

Headed south

Happy Halloween from northern New Mexico! 🙂

Well, we had grand plans of staying on our property through the winter in northern New Mexico.  We even went so far as to have a back hoe come in and build an RV pad.  But plans change and we decided to head to Arizona for the winter.

RV pad going in!
RV pad going in!

Why, may you ask?  To start off, we are still in the month of October and we have already had snow and freezing temps.  While our RV is well insulated it isn’t designed for that kind of weather and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.  We came to the conclusion that we had better be safe than sorry.

Snow at the RV park on October 20, 2015!!
Snow at the RV park on October 20, 2015!!

We have decided to head down to the LTVA area in Quartzsite and will stay there until it thaws out again out our place and possibly explore some other areas as well.  Next year once the cabin is done and we have a wood stove then we can stay through the winter if we want.  But, the really fortunate part of being a full time RVer is that we can go where the weather is mild and not worry about things like frozen water lines.

Chama, NM on October 22, 2015.  Gonna be a hard winter!
Chama, NM on October 22, 2015. Gonna be a hard winter!

The weather people are predicting a really hard winter here this year and frankly we are just not equipped to deal with it.  So we are erring on the side of caution and keeping ourselves safe. 🙂  We will really miss our property and our little community we have met here but there is always next year!

RV pad on property looking west
RV pad on property looking west

So our next post will come to you from the warmth of Arizona!  We will enjoy warm days and cool nights and hopefully meet up with a bunch of other full time RVer’s and have a great winter.  All in all a smart decision.  Until next year, New Mexico!  We will miss these glorious sunsets at our place but I’m sure we will see many more that are just as wonderful in Arizona!

Riding into the sunset only to return next spring!
Riding into the sunset only to return next spring!

Boondocking by Indian Creek Reservoir 

After leaving Scott Lake dispersed camping area, we made our way over to Indian Creek Reservoir.  Now, while there is a campground there ($20/night for RV… no thanks).  We were after FREE camping.  🙂

To get here, you will take Airport Rd off of HWY 89 that goes to Markleeville, CA.  Head toward Indian Creek Reservoir.  Right before you get to the “airport” (really just a landing strip – there are no outbuildings, etc), on the right there is a small little turn off with a little area that’s cleared off.  Keep an eye out, it’s easy to miss!

The sign on the road - don't overstay your welcome! 14 day limit!
The sign on the road – don’t overstay your welcome! 14 day limit!

There is a small road that continues up the mountain that you could easily tent camp at but unless you have a little tiny RV there isn’t room for a rig there.  Great views tho!

Can you see her?
Can you see her?

There were a ton of deer in this area and we were graced with them nearly every day.  Lots of does with older fawns but we did see a few bucks as well.

Our view
Our view
Another view
Another view

We spent our limit of 14 days here.  There was water to be had for free in the day use area of Indian Creek Reservoir and there is a dump station there as well ($10).  With our composting toilet and only grey water tanks we were able to stay the whole time with no trouble at all.

Ahhhh.... peaceful
Ahhhh…. peaceful
Great place to relax
Great place to relax

We had great parking for our solar and still plenty of shade in the afternoon.  The temps ranged about 80-85 during the day and high 40’s to low 50’s at night.  Perfect!

So nice!
So nice!

We were all by ourselves the entire time we stayed here.  We did have some people stop by who were curious, obviously, but mostly we had the place to ourselves.  There is a bit of road noise from the small amount of traffic that goes to the reservoir but all in all it was a very peaceful place!  We would certainly return.  And it’s FREE.  Did I mention that?? 🙂

Nestled among the trees
Nestled among the trees

This spot is located about 5 miles from Markleeville, CA (no cell service there but wifi to be had) and about 30 minutes from Carson City, NV and Lake Tahoe, CA.

We DID manage to get 1-2 bars Verizon 4g with our Wilson 4g booster.  I think if we could have raised the antenna higher we would have had even better signal.  No AT&T service though if we went to the top of the hill we could get one bar 4g.

All in all a really nice boondock!  Where are we headed next?  Well, our general plan is to make it down to New Mexico as we are going to the Balloon Fiesta!  But as we have a few weeks until then we are going to meander our way down 395.  Possibly go to Mono Lake!  But as our plans are set in jello only time will tell.