Author Topic: Turning an RV into a permanent home, insulating question  (Read 1409 times)

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Offline KyGirl

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Turning an RV into a permanent home, insulating question
« on: May 25, 2013, 09:32:19 PM »
I have been trying to get started building my own little house.  I bought the plans from here and actually got stared almost two years ago.  Then, last spring, a tornado took everything out.  Everything on my property was leveled and the family home I am living in was badly damaged.  Fast forward to now, I haven't been able to get enough money up to start over from scratch.  My Dad had a 35 foot RV and I started thinking, I could live in that just fine.  It suffered some damage during the tornado but not a lot. Mostly the sky light covers were taken off and the air conditioning unit.  It has water damage though. Still I would be starting out with a roof and external walls. I just have to repair the floor and walls, wire for normal electric, add heating and I am all set.  Several family members are donating building materials so I will just have to buy a few things. 
The walls are framed with 2 x 2 lumber and I am trying to decide if I should just replace what was water damaged with that size lumber or change to 2x4 framing.  I would loose 4 inches of floor space with the 2x4's but could use standard insulation which is being given to me.  If I use 2x2 I would use foam board in between the studs with spray foam around the edges to seal everything. Got the idea from youtube in a video labeled poor man's solution to spray foam insulating.  Then use the standard insulation in the ceiling and floors.  What would be best?
I am lucky to live out in the country with no building codes other than septic which I already have cover.  I already had an existing one from my old mobile home I lost to fire.  Wish my neighbors across the road had a septic system. Theirs just goes into the creek.Yuck.

Offline MountainDon

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Re: Turning an RV into a permanent home, insulating question
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2013, 02:32:18 PM »
1.  Thoughts on living in an RV. It's better than being homeless. It sounds like that RV is built like our old one with the 2x2's and fiberglass in the walls. Hard to keep warm in winter and hard to keep cool in summer. It does help a lot to cover the inside of the windows with one of those plastic film "storm window" kits for the winter.

3. If there was water enough to damage the wall there may also be a problem in the floor. Our RV had an issue before we bought it and it caused a floor problem. The floor de-laminated in one area which I found when I tore out the old vinyl flooring (to replace it) I ended up having to replace some sub floor too.

 Regarding the use of sheet foam in the walls (or in an exterior layer for that matter). Rigid foam is a great vapor barrier as well as a great insulation.. So is the spray foam. If insufficient thickness is used moisture from the interior air can condense on the foam in the wall. The R-value needed depends on the climate zone. Mostly this is a concern only for climate zones Marine 4, 5, 6, 7. Green Building advisor has an article on this.

When the foam is thick enough the wall interior stays above the dew point and there will be no condensing.


Too bad about the neighbors discharging sewage in a waterway.. That should somehow be made known to the right people.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2013, 03:51:10 PM by MountainDon »
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time and money to fix it?

Offline MushCreek

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Re: Turning an RV into a permanent home, insulating question
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2013, 02:24:16 AM »
Don't forget the floor when you insulate. RV floors are usually weak on insulation, and there's air flow underneath. If you can, after you insulate, rig up some kind of skirt under it to keep the cold breezes out.
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Offline flyingvan

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Re: Turning an RV into a permanent home, insulating question
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2013, 05:32:19 AM »
I'm wondering if it might be less work and money, and a better end result to stick build a frame the way you want it, then re-purpose the entire RV to outfit a new structure.
Find what you love and let it kill you.

Offline KyGirl

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Re: Turning an RV into a permanent home, insulating question
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2013, 09:07:04 PM »
Thanks everyone.  I decided to go with 2x4 framing.  I think I will be using rock wall insulation to help with sound transfer and use the regular insulation for the floor and ceiling.  I plan on setting it on a concrete foundation so I can skirt the bottom with block. Already have tons so why not use them.  The living space actually works out the same as what I was building anyway.  I am going to add a sun room and extra bedroom onto the back. 

The reason I decided to use the RV was I will already have a roof and exterior walls.  I have already fixed the roof vents so no more leaks.  All I have to do is fix a few places in the floor, wire it, put in new plumbing, and redo the walls.  There is existing heat ducks in the floor but I am not sure on what I will be using for heating.  The old furnace went bad and dad removed it.  We always used space heaters to heat it and stayed warm even in the snow.  When the family wasn't traveling in it, it was used as extra sleeping for guests.  I am thinking about installing Eheat heaters.  I saw them in a wood working magazine and have been researching them.  I am going to use the stove but decided to buy a small refrigerator instead of using the rv one. 

This camper was state of the art at the time Dad bought it but that was 30 years ago at least.  It always felt like home we spent so much time in it. Dad is glad it will be put to good use.  I have seen people living in a lot smaller ones in my area.  I spend most of my time outside working in the garden or other outside work.

As for the neighbors sewage, our officials are a joke.  They installed a sewage system in town and it constantly spews out into peoples yard and they charge double the water bill for the use of it.  I am glad I have one already ready to go.  It passed inspection. Now if I can get the power company to do their part so I can get power. 


Offline Rob_O

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Re: Turning an RV into a permanent home, insulating question
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2013, 07:26:00 PM »
Thanks everyone.  I decided to go with 2x4 framing.  I think I will be using rock wall insulation to help with sound transfer and use the regular insulation for the floor and ceiling.  I plan on setting it on a concrete foundation so I can skirt the bottom with block. Already have tons so why not use them. 

If you have the block to do it, pour a continuous footer and do a block foundation. Much better than a stack of blocks that may leave your home on the ground if a good storm comes through
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Offline KyGirl

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Re: Turning an RV into a permanent home, insulating question
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2013, 07:49:15 AM »
I was planning on putting in a long footer with crushed rock topped with concrete.  Normally our area is wet. A lot of groundwater.  However, we are in a drought right now but I want to plan for long term. I have already installed drainage to get rid of spring water that comes out of the hill behind property. I have been working on the property for many years.  Just never have the money to do it all at once so slow and steady it is. 

I will be pulling the axles and wheels out from under it and I am looking for a way to make sure it is tied down very well. We have been getting ridiculously high winds the last few years. A lot of homes have lost roofs.  I have a place that is kind of buffered from the worst winds.  The way the hills are it kinda leaves a calm spot.  I think I will be putting the rv there.  I was thinking of those mobile home ties downs to tie it down with.  Now I am thinking of embedding mining roof bolts into the concrete pads and tying them into the frame somehow.  Since I am gutting it basically anyway, maybe I could take metal tie down straps and wrap them around the frame work and roof and then tie then into the bolt some how. Hope that makes since.  Basically like throwing a rope around the whole frame and tying it to the ground.

Power company came today. now to set a pole and get power.