“Did you do the renovations yourself?”

I always feel like they're asking “Did you pay the iron price?” You could say I'm a fan of GOT. I'm super stoked for Winds of Winter. Jules and I sing the Rains of Castamere in public places just loud enough to make everyone feel real awkward real fast.

Friends and strangers typically start conversations by asking about the bus. We casually chat for a bit about the novelty and the challenges. Then, we lie in wait until that question comes up. Which is 99.9 % of the time. Granted, I don't think they actually harbor Balon Greyjoy's stern disapproval, but it does feel like they're thinking, “you know nothing, Jon Snow.” Every. Time.

Jules and I have been pretty transparent about our role in the bus renovations, so I won't go into a lot of detail in this post, but I obviously wish I had done more. We were extremely pressed for time, we had limited knowledge about renovating spaces, we had limited resources, blah blah blah. Ultimately, the final product looks great. I got to play with tools, build furniture, and do a stupid amount of painting. I think we made the right choice to purchase the bus that we did. If you're planning your own conversion or renovation, I've listed a few handy points to consider...

1) Know your strengths

Be honest about what you're good at, what you're willing to learn, and how much you're willing to work. YouTube is a great resource for learning how to complete household projects. Books are a solid choice, too (remember those?). I'm great with a drill, good with a hammer, fair with a saw. I'm a shit welder, though. I know nothing about electrical. Which brings me to...

2) Know your weaknesses

I'd probably watch a few YouTube videos about how to weld or wire. I might even go so far as to borrow the needed equipment. I would then attempt the project, work for several hours, and then screw it up worse than when I started. Then I would reach out to a buddy for help.

When you're working with a fixed budget, real stakes, and a tight timeline, there's no room for ego. Sure, you might be able to help with or shadow a project and learn a thing or two, but when it's a matter of safety, concede to professionals.

3) Time is a bitch...

...and winter is coming. Know that.

What you thought was going to take a week will take two. What you thought would be done by the end of the month will wrap by the end of the season. And your firm end goal of six months? It's more like an ideal scenario. You'd like it to happen. It was a nice thought. A full year later and you're making steady progress.

Plan for longer than you need.

4) Everybody's got their two cents

This is just like planning a wedding (not a Red one ಠ_ಠ). Groom's side of the family. Bride's side of the family. Tensions can brew. So it goes with renovating.

Best advice – be patient. Take a breath. Evaluate the merit of an idea. If it's a good idea, consider making the tweak. If it's not a good idea, politely nod and change the subject. If the problem persists, have a beer and crank the music to eleven, because you won't be solving it right away.

5) Have fun!

This point was going to be “It's all or nothing.” That felt a little grim though, so, “have fun!”

This piece of the puzzle is easy to forget. Renovating can be a time consuming, costly, and stressful experience. Try to remember that this is your home that you're working on – how cool is that? You're like a freakin' pioneer! You get to play with power tools. You're building something with your own two hands. You're probably in the beautiful outdoors, and you're definitely learning (at least about yourself).

To sum up, we paid a little bit of the iron price and a little bit of the gold price for our home. Each has its merit, and neither are reason to hang our heads. Do what's right for you, keep your chin up, and if you're ever in line at the grocery store and you hear a duet of the Rains of Castamere, don't freak out- it's just Jules and me nerding out.