What You Need to Know Before Renovating a Motorhome
Listen, if you’re finding this as you’re buying your RV or about to begin your renovations, there are some key things you may not have thought about that you need to know. We want to give you our best advice now that we’re on the other side of the journey you’re about to embark on. We’re not just spewing basic technical tips on how to paint nooks n’ crannies or take down valances. We want to disclose to you the mindset shifts that took place over the course of our own renovation.
Our story is a little different; we found some severe mold and had to completely gut our RV. We didn’t start officially rebuilding until May of 2018, finishing recently in June of 2019. If you’re doing the work yourself like we did, it can seem really daunting. It takes a lot of time, energy, money, and dedication. We are about share with you the things we learned over the past year renovating our 30-year-old Rexhal Airex, Luna.
Even if you think its good, replace it if it’s older than 20 years!
This is one of Talis little sayings. When buying a used RV, especially an OLDER rig, it’s bound to have components that have gone bad just because of age. Whether it’s gaskets, window seals, appliances, electronics, etc. we personally replaced anything that was original or 20 years old. After that much time, it has bound to develop issues. You’d rather be safe than sorry, right?
If you’re super handy, you can also restore certain items if you feel comfortable and capable. We did this with the oven that came with the RV! Just use your best judgment and know when something needs to be retired.
2. Take pictures of everything as you take it apart.
As you are renovating, you’re going to run into things you have to remove completely or temporarily move in order to continue with your project. Wires that are organized in a specific way, components that have to be in a certain order, or apparatuses that you have to deconstruct are some examples. This is high priority especially as you demolish areas of your RV.
Check out this post! A Step-By-Step Guide to RV Demolition
In order to remember where they go or in what order they belong, just take a picture before you take anything apart! This will provide a reference when you’re ready to reconstruct.
3. Test all plumbing and electrical.
It is smart to plan to do this before finishing off your cabinets and sealing off access to these areas of your rig. You should test your plumbing, whether you did work on it or not. You never want leaks, as we’ve stated in our previous posts, because it ultimately can lead to water damage and mold.
Check out this post! How to Control Moisture and Mold in an RV
Electrical includes wiring, outlets, appliances, and electronics. Make sure all electrical items function and have not incurred any damage over time or during your renovations. Make sure to hook up your rig to see if all of the switches, lights, and outlets work. You’d really hate to have issues arise after your renovations are finished.
4. Don’t worry about the money so much!
First and foremost, your tiny home on wheels is going to be the best deal on a “starter” home you will ever get. You are saving money in the long run by taking on this lifestyle over the traditional route. Some RVs can be in 100k range and above if you’re buying brand new or larger rigs, which is close to the price of a small home. We always recommend buying used as it supports a circular economy, saves you money, and gives you more wiggle room in your budget for renovations.
As far as spending money on your renovation, cutting corners isn’t an option in our eyes. There are ways you can save money without sacrificing quality during this part of your journey. We plan on talking more about budgeting and saving money in later posts, so, stick around!
5. Timelines are arbitrary.
This is a hard one, guys. We are still learning this, it’s a struggle every day. We talk all the time about how heartbreaking it was to have our “end” date pushed back over a year. Things kept coming up, projects take more time than expected, things just go wrong. Like some of our favorite van life creators say, however, everything does happen for a reason.
Having stretched out the time of our renovation actually opened up the opportunity to save money and take our time in creating a quality home for ourselves. Life does keep going even when you have a huge undertaking such as a renovation, so, things are bound to come up. You make better decisions when you don’t have the stress of a deadline. Plus, who likes to feel pressured when you are building for your future?!
6. Setbacks are going to happen!
Like we said above, these situations are heartbreaking, however, we also stated that life just happens! People get sick, weather doesn’t cooperate, things break, delivery of parts gets delayed, the list just goes on. You’re going to set deadline and have it pushed back once, twice, a million times. You’re going to think you’re finishing a project in one day or a weekend and it ends up taking multiple day or spreads across a couple weekends.
It’s not worth losing your mind over! It’s so much easier to just go with the flow and not let timelines or deadlines control your renovation. If something causes you to push back a project, don’t let it discourage you. This is only the beginning of your journey!
What now: We Want to Hear from The People!
We can’t wait to share more tips and tricks with you on renovating an RV, especially in the fashion that we did with ours. If you’ve seen anything from our Instagram that sparks inspiration or curiosity, let us know! We’d love to make more in depth posts about specific projects that take place within a renovation. Our next article is going to be on some setbacks folks who are renovating might face. In the meantime, here’s some bonus advice from some friends from Instagram!
“We are nearing the end of out reno and it’s so much more work than we thought it was going to be! We had a few minor issues…During this whole process, we kept telling ourselves ‘it may not be perfect, but it’s perfect for us!” - Annie
“Mindset is huge to stay sane during renos!! We wrote some verses and positivity on one of our repaired walls before we covered it with paint. Just knowing what was hidden underneath was a constant reminder of how far we had come.” – Sarah