Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Camper renovation - WHAT the H - E double hockey sticks have we got into?

My husband thought it would be a good thing to buy a camper, spruce it up a bit and go camping (even have a backup home if we ever needed it). New to everything RV/camper wise and having our tax refund to buy something we did as everyone that wants to save money does, look all over Craig’s list. Well after finding many potential campers and offering lower prices than what was asked, we finally found someone that would sale to us $1000 cheaper than what they were asking for (It was a 2005 Gulf Stream camper). We went to look at the camper March 11 2015, first thing as soon as we opened the door I swear about 200 lady bugs came flying out (if any of you from the south know about these Asian lady bugs, trust me you know you don't like them) which we should have took as a sign to back away. Besides that, there were a few spots on the walls/corners that needed the walls fixed and had some water damage, not knowing much about construction and my hubby the go-getter that he is said he could probably fix it, so we offered a little bit lower than the price we negotiated via email and they accepted.

After getting it back to our home (which actually is military housing - which I mention for a reason now) we became very aware of the things that we over looked or was too new to the camping world to know to look for. We found out that we had bought a FEMA trailer, yay us (eyes rolling now). If you don't know much about FEMA trailers like us, you may not realize that they are really just designed for staying in one spot and not much of an actual camper (they use household toilets and refrigerators, no waste water/fresh water tanks etc), other than that the particle board used in construction apparently has a lot of Formaldehyde in it which was making people sick during Katrina aftermath. So we decided to strip everything down inside and start from scratch to build a cute camper worthy trailer, add some tanks, buy RV toilet and install and try to keep the budget of renovating plus cost of trailer under $6000.

After tearing everything down inside the camper 1-2 days later we get a notice from the military housing that we are not allowed to park our camper in front of our house (on the side of the road where most people park extra cars anyways). So that started our set back. We had to move our trailer to the designated parking area for boats, RVs and trailers (which is also right beside of the water treatment area/ septic area) but was told while working on it we could bring it back in front of the house, and after done working on it move back to parking area. My husband's plan on working on the camper was to wait until our toddler took a nap, and go work on it while she was napping during the day (hubby is the stay at home dad) but since we had to move the trailer to the parking spot he has to wait til I get home so he can go get the trailer (have someone to spot while attaching the trailer to the hitch). The other set back was after exposing the beams and floor boards of the camper there was a lot more water damage than we originally thought. What we discovered: 3 out of the 4 corners had major mold and water damage to wood and would have to be replaced, one spot in the middle of the camper on the side needed to be replaced (where the corner of the kitchen cabinets were), and a rough estimate of 30-40% of the floor boards needed replacing and apparently there were some mice that were living in the insulation at one point so we had to take that down (I have horrible allergies and figured that would exacerbate them)... and the big kicker.... one of the corners was so bad that the wood on the ceiling disintegrated when we took the walls down and the only thing exposed was the bottom of the rubber roof. So with the rubber roof not attached to any wood for the ceiling, we researched and found out we needed to replace the roof which is a lot more expense than we were anticipating.

So another thing... after tearing down everything in the camper, I realized we didn't really take any before pictures other than the main room (kitchen/living room area) so I scoured the internet looking for pics that close resembles our camper prior to demo.

These are the pictures of our actual camper... Notice after we took the cabinets down the dark water damaged wood behind the wall paper. The bathroom was about to be torn down when we realized we needed before pictures. The tub is a nasty yellow color (which was not it's original color).

The following pictures are not our camper but has about the same layout as ours did prior to demo (just imagine water damage on bottom bunk on back wall and water damage behind little cabinet in bedroom).

A few After/during demo pics (the last pic is of disintegrated ceiling)

I will post pics as we get further into our project.

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