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A generous friend is letting me stay with them for the next month because my e150 (passenger conversion) has been too cold and uncomfortable. There are big drafts from the door and I don't have proper furniture or solar. It's honest be pretty miserable to live in the last 8 months.

My guess is it would be absurd to do all three in a month so my hope is to redo/reinsulate the interior.

If I can't do that maybe I should just build furniture, fix the drafts, and install a big propane tank and a heater.

People who have done this before: what would you do if you only had a month to fix it up? I can work full-time on it but I do not have a garage so I can only work inside the van: Seattle is quite wet in the winter.
You can do a lot in a month. I've just done my complete rebuild in five weeks (6+ hours per day, 7 days a week). But, the "working inside the van" issue is going to be your biggest problem. I had a dedicated work space/driveway and a workshop with all the tools I could think of. I still made a huge mess with just how much lumber I was cutting and hauling back and forth. You need a work space first.

To help answer your actual question though, my experience was as follows;
  • 3 days to completely gut the van down to sheetmetal
  • 1 to 1.5 days to re-wire both 120v and 12v wiring, from scratch
  • 1 day to insulate using 1.5 inch thick rigid foam board
  • 1 day to layout, cut, and install new floor board and get old wall panel back in (required no cutting so time saved)
  • A separate day to install new rubber floor on top of wooden one. Expensive, heavy, and unnecessary. Linoleum will do and cost a lot less.
  • 3-4 days to add cedar paneling to those old walls (lots and lots of custom cuts for every board... sucked!). Go with 4X8 paneling and stick on wall paper or paint if you do not have the time or patience for what I did.
  • 2 days for the ceiling and topper paneling, painting, and installation
  • Another 1 day or so for all the lighting installed (this could have been much simpler using standard store-bought fixtures)
  • I added a water tank and airbag suspension at another 1 day of labor each
  • Cabinetry happened quickly, with a good 1 days labor for each side of my living space to frame out the pieces (2 days total)
  • Another day to cover that framing with paneling (and paint or stain)
  • Another 1 day for sink, fridge, plumbing, etc
  • Another 2 days in cutting out drawer and cabinet doors and building the drawers and shelves inside the cabinet
  • Then 3 days of misc nick-nack jobs to button up this or that
  • Meanwhile, while I was working on stuff, my girl spent 4-5 days working with fabrics to create all new curtains, and we hired someone to make our new foam cushions and upholstery (no idea how long that took)
All told, I have spent 28-32 full days of working (not including some days waiting for shipments and such)... hard. Like, harder then I have every worked before in my life! Nothing ever goes to plan and even if they did, plans change as you build. I expected a three week build, and I just finished my 5th week.

My advice; 
  • Buy new door weather seals (cheap and easy to replace)
  • Insulation only does you any good if you are heating the interior as well. My old build had no insulation and I stayed many nights in sub-freezing temps. A Mr Buddy heater and some propane goes a long way. 
  • Since you have no real work space, start with one corner of your van, add insulation and panel board (buy a single 4X8 sheet at a time and have the lumber yard cut it to your basic need, fine tune at the van). Once that part is insulated and has a wall (it doesn't have to be perfect first time) move on to the next 4 foot section. Then the ceiling. Flooring is easy to insulate with some foam workout mats for now
  • Build the framing of your cabinets using 2X2 boards. Easy to work with (pre-drill your screw holes) to get a basic cabinet setup. Again, do one piece at a time, and next thing you know you will have it all done in no time. Again, it doesn't need to be perfect first time. Build them separately so they can be removed and re-built at a later date if you want too.
  • Buy a Mr Buddy heater (the smallest one @ $60-ish will do fine, but the mid-sized one @ $90-ish will do as well but was overkill for me). But you can't leave it on all night, so...
  • A good sleeping bag (zero to twenty degree) goes a long way for cold months. I added some extra blankets at time, and even slept with thermal underwear, a beanie, and gloves on at times. It's cold, but not miserable. The heater warms the place up in a few minutes in the morning.
  • Grab some old blankets from wherever and hang one or two to block (like a blanket-wall) your living space from your driving area. All that glass up there is your enemy and no amount of insulation will make up for that. Blocking your living space off means less area to heat and less glass to let the cold in. Do the same for windows in the living area if needed. Dont get hung up on Reflectix... a good blanket has a better R-value and will cost less (hit the thrift stores).
There is always paying for camping with electric hookups and using an electric space heater (be safe!). I did that many times when a big storm was coming through.
I would concentrate on fixing the drafts and insulating. highdesertranger
If it's most miserable when you're trying to sleep, get yourself a decent sleeping bag, surplus wool army blankets, and/or proper clothing to wear and keep your body heat in. Always change into dry clothes before sleeping and do everything you can to keep your bedding insulation dry, which may involve a heat source.
Mine is a work in progress I still havent put the wallpaper on because I keep adding more foam. But so far its been working out good, middle of december and still havent had to use the sleeping bag and mr heater still in storage unit.

 I already had insulation on the roof but this year I decided to cover all the drafts places where the cold was coming in. The divider between the front of van and back was a sliding door but it wasnt airtight, I added a foam plug to cover that area. I completely covered my side door with foam. There is a cutout that I can remove if I want to use the door again. Added more layers to the sides of the van. Built cabinets and used foam on them during most of the construction to keep them lightweight. 

My priority is that its livable and I'm comfortable, wallpaper/furniture/curtains/vase with flowers isnt on my list. I actually removed the only furniture I had (2 bucket seats) now I got more room for cabinets. 

With a hotglue gun and rtech foam, the installation goes quickly. Hotglue drys in minutes. Just eyeball the cuts and install like a jigsaw puzzle. Hotglue layer on top of another layer. Insulate all the windows/ remove the roof oem insulation and install the foam. Build a divider between front and back of van, I used wood (hardboard) sandwich with foam. But You can just hotglue cardboard to the foam to hardened the foam and that would work as a divider. 

For me the hard part was getting started, it looked like alot of work but it goes quick. My advice is use alot of foam. I been using the rtech from home depot, 8 dollars for a 4x8 sheet. Easy to cut and hotglues real well. Build the divider and cover over your side door (or build a sliiding foam door over it). 

side door (covered over with foam)
divider seperating front from back of van, you can see the vortex roof vent (covered over with foam).
I'm still looking forward to colder weather to test more fully, 46 degrees has been the lowest so far. Outside/inside temp (no heater) and have added more insulation since this picture. The more foam I add the more comfortable I get.  
Some thoughts on a one-month project, based on my preferences.  Your mileage may vary.  :-)
  • Furniture can wait;  a discarded/thrift lawn chair and cot would increase comfort and buy time.  
  • I agree with the sleeping bag recommendation
  • You could install solar in a day or two, once the parts arrived.  I'd be aggressive with panels, as insolation (solar engery) is low in the PNW. I'd also overpanel both the controller and the batteries due to marginal insolation but many respected folks here would not.
  • Buddy heater puts out a huge amount of heat for a small space like a van.  Some folks run them below the low setting or even on pilot light.  I find that after a brief warming with LOW, the pilot light puts out a surprising amount of heat.
  • You might leave some of the new seals out for ventilation for a while.  :-)  Propane heat will increase the humidity in the van.  A roof vent or similar solution goes in easier than it looks, and provides mucho ventilation.
Trying to be helpful here. Ignore if not.

I try to look at the big picture. You've been miserable for 8 months? And haven't prepared for winter?
Are your finances that bad? Or especially busy or necessities of time constraint?

Heat and some van setup can help allot, but will it really if you're not happy overall? Maybe only temporarily. You're a member on here and so have seen, have access to others experience. You're still asking the question, other factors in play?

You don't have to do a full build out to the Instagram or YouTube level to impress. You can build out in stages, minimal for now, continue in warmer weather. This will increase comfort, but not improve or change the lifestyle however.

A full insulation job is major. Worthwhile? Yes long-term, no short term. Many people will be short term in a row and don't realize it. If so, get cheap rtech styrofoam from home Depot, cut oversize and press fit to cover windows. Tearing out the whole interior not necessary for the benefit short term if you're going to get a heat source anyway. Get a warm sleeping bag and layers clothes or blankets to stay snuggly warm overnight. don't run the heater overnight while sleeping, dangerous.
But then again, are you in Alaska?

Think minimal and camping gear, not full build out. Layers, insulation and heat source for warmth. It still is going to be miserable, even with that. Winter sucks in a vehicle, even a house. Can you get to warmer climate?
This is good advice. Especially first post. I am going to try and do the least possible and see how much that improves things.

@minimotovan I didn't prepare for winter in so far as I have been living on a $230/mo for six months. Hard to earn more when you have major depression and would rather kill yourself than let a boss exploit your labor. I did what preparations I could, but after expenses $20/mo to spend isn't much.

I am never happy overall. Just the nature of drug-resistant depression.

The rest of your message is confusing due to the imprecision of your language usage

I think I will start with the seals and see how it does.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Check out this thread for some ideas that may help you as well.
(12-21-2017, 02:15 PM)dualhammers Wrote: [ -> ]... when you have major depression ........ after expenses $20/mo to spend isn't much.

Ouch, major depression, and only a $20 budget to do something.  That one might indeed be a tough one to figure out. 

To do a complete build in only a month, is doable, as has been pointed out. But you might need to consider something way simpler than that. 

If at all possible, then the ridgid foam boards are your warmest options.
But the cheapest option might be cardboard, as it could possibly be had for free. 

And perhaps the simplest cardboard structure might be a multilayer-cardboard sleeping pod. 
Here is an example of a delux version of such a sleeping pod.

Otherwise, fixing one draft issue at a time, will bring you forward towards a warmer van. 

And if at all possible, try to also include one activity every so often (preferably at least once a week) of interacting with (new) good people.  A change (or new input) of humanistic environment might be one way to fight depression. 

My own philosophy about depression is; that your body is telling you to slow down, and re-group.

Re-group, re-think,and re-test your (what feels like) instinctive attitude responses  and (what feels like) instinctive action respons patterns, that you have so far relied on to keep you alive. 

 I have found it near impossible (or at least very difficult) to re-think such fundamentals, as near instinctive behavior, alone! On my own. 

Hence my suggestion to try to seek out new people (but good non-judgmental people), who are significantly different in many aspects of life, than what you have so far been accustomed to. 

If you are however on your owbn with this battle, here are a few methods and ways to take on the challenge of depression (well they also work, in the company and with the help of others);

- start to to become very honest with yourself. About how you feel and perceive things. 
- and remember to take a long pause - in the company of those feelings and perceptions. And try to uncover what might actually be underneath the first emotions being registered.   
- and pause again - before moving on to the next natural step of (instinctive) action, namely trying to make sense, of those feelings, and perceptions and the environment and what you need and want and.... making it make sense. 
- And once you have decided the connections, try to re-examin, to see if there could be alternative connections. And the try to simplify. 
And remember to pause before each step. 
- and again pause - before choosing what to do when those feelings are present. Before choosing to on an action. 
- and once you act, then be very observant of:
 a) what seems to work?
 b) what does not seem to work so well, in order to get you to where you actually want to be (or feel), and 
 c) chose something to focus on in the very near future, that will test new approaches, and then rinse, pause and repeat a, b and c. 

This is of cause an extremely compact and simplified description. Of what I would consider to be vital work, of how to deal with true (long term) depression. 
I do however find these steps and methods, simple as they may be, to be highly effective to help to bring about any kind of significant change in otherwise (apparently) instinctive connections between outer environment, feelings and perceptions, and how one appears to instinctively react to ones  outer world. 

It can however be something that can be very difficult to do on your own. Hence my suggestion to seek out very different people. 

Three methods to do this work alone, can however be to 
- meditate, and/or 
- verbalizing. Yes, start talking to yourself.  And/or
- write daily notes. 

And once you learn how to use (or combine) the four methods - the three mentioned just above, and the fourth; seeking out new and very different (but good) people - then you will have developed a new life skill that may prevent you from ever getting stuck, in a groove, for months, once the state of depression hits next time. 
As you now have the tools to readily help you create change and newness, if your body ever again tells you, that your current methods are not up to it - up to to keep you alive in the manner that you want to be alive - and deserve to be alive. 

I don't think that drugs will ever solve a long-term depression state.
At most, drugs can pause (or limit) the strength of the groove, the record of your life, has gotten stuck in.  So it gets easier to do the brain work. 
But in order to move past a long-term depression. To move far enough away from the groove,  then I find brain-work, brain re-organisation, like I have just described, to be essential to stay out of just getting (re)trapped in the old or the next dysfunctional groove in life. 

So if you can manage to create a sleeping pod, or reduce draftiness of your van - combined a few daily brain exercises -  then you might indeed be able to bring about a new level of sustainability in your life, even with the winter being very much upon your location. 

I hope this has made some sense to you. 

And perhaps you need to only focus on the staying warm part, in order to focus enough time on be prepared in only a month. But that will be okay too. 

I do however believe that you are among some of the right people, as tough and limited options situations, does not seem to be an unknown to most people here.  And neither does thinking out of the box, to find uncommonly practical and usable solutions. 

So please keep us posted about your efforts, and the next questions you may have, of what to do. Okay?
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