Once you’ve generally figured out the budget to fix your vintage Airstream, the next step is to figure out when all of the work is going to happen. How do you prioritize what’s most important? How do you get all of the pieces of the puzzle to fall into place?
First, print out a copy of your budget; it’s essentially a list of all the tasks that need to be done, and all of the materials you need to order. When you’ve looked online, or better yet spoken with shop owners or contractors, ideally you’ve also gotten a sense of timing for any shipping, fabrication and labor. If you haven’t, go back and make some phone calls or e-mails.
I find it’s best to print out a paper calendar and work in pencil, keeping a big eraser close by! Like budgets, schedules are also ‘living documents’ that change with circumstances from week to week. In my past work experience, it’s the start and end dates for your project that are generally the firmest; everything else tends to be more flexible. Make yours a weekly (7 day) calendar, and print out as many sheets as you need for the number of months you expect the renovation to take. Scheduling a renovation can be a bit of an art form. There are many variables to consider; here are some examples to get you started:
- How much money do you have set aside for ordering the materials, and paying anyone who will help you?
- How much available time do you have? Is there anyone who is willing to help you with the work?
- Does the Airstream need any immediate maintenance?
- Do you have (or feel the need for) a specific deadline?
- What are the things you absolutely have to do to start enjoying your trailer?
- Will you be taking on tasks that you already know how to do, or will there be more of a learning curve?
- When you read about other people’s experiences doing the different tasks, how long did it take them from start to finish?
- Are your contractors firm or casual about making & sticking to deadlines? How much does that matter to you?
- Are you having parts or materials shipped? How long does it take?
I feel that most people enjoy doing Airstream repair work as a D.I.Y. hobbyist when their free time allows. There are loads of people who are motivated to work this way, and you can find phenomenal examples of how people do this right in their personal blogs or on Airstream Forums. But maybe you’ve also seen ads on eBay by people selling project Airstreams because they just didn’t get around to doing all of the work, or an important life event ‘suddenly’ came up and they have to sell? I suspect that in many cases, these folks didn’t fully consider budget or schedule in advance.
There’s also an ailment called “Airstream Depression,” that some vintage owners experience from time to time. I heard about it for the first time recently, listening to an episode of the Vintage Airstream Podcast that dedicated some time to the topic. Basically, it’s when you get overwhelmed by the amount of unfinished work left on your trailer and start to feel down about not being able to just enjoy it. I can suggest that the solution to any big problem is to “chunk it down” into smaller, more manageable tasks so you can regularly feel like you’re making progress. Developing a budget and a schedule is a great way to feel on top of your renovation project and even helps you with hiring others so that progress can be made while you’re working on something else. And lastly (depending on the state of the trailer) it’s certainly possible to enjoy your Airstream in between spurts of work.
Today is the deadline for my New Year’s resolution to complete a first draft of my renovation schedule! Here’s a copy to give you a sense of how you might make your own, just using a pencil and paper… don’t forget the eraser!
Up Next: Fulltiming at Home?!