C40's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
bryan
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Location: mostly Bay Area

Re: C40's Journal

Post by bryan »

Yeah, not a bad business idea. I've thought about van-centric businesses in the last few years but the closest I've come is checking out some real estate, leases for the HQ (Bay Area) and giving it a long think on whether or not I really want to put in so much time, effort to specific parts of the business. Others have definitely been thinking the same thing (kits): https://www.curbed.com/2018/8/1/1764047 ... t-for-sale

wheatstate
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Joined: Thu Aug 25, 2011 4:51 am

Re: C40's Journal

Post by wheatstate »

C40 sounds like some neat business ideas.
Thanks, Bryan, for sharing the van kit article. That looks like an intriguing business.
I would be curious how a van conversion business numbers would look. The #vanlife hashtag people generally seem to be pretty thrifty with limited resources to spend. Would the buyer be a cash buyer or financing? Would the outfitted van be able to be appraised at a high enough value to be profitable? Maybe, you only need to identify a handful of good buyers.

One business model that I like is Hein. He is a mechanical engineer and bought a flat-bed, sheet 3d CNC milling machine. While building out his sprinter, he identified problems and designed solution parts. He now sells these in his ebay shop. His build is super cool with custom water heat exchanger with his radiator, custom water tanks below his van and fancy shower. He is also the dealer for selling 3m thinsulate to deaden car noise.

Hein's ebay shop: https://www.ebay.com/str/impactproducts
Hein's sprinter build: https://sprinter-source.com/forum/showt ... hp?t=27822

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 »

C40 industries will soon be open for van orders. (well, sort of soon). Get your deposits ready :D :lol:

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

I have a lot of dividend-focused index funds in my Traditional IRA, and I want to convert most/all of those to individual stocks. That will get me another bump in income.
Is this because the individual stocks have a higher yield than the stocks in the index funds or for some other reason? I am still trying to decide between a dividend index fund and individual dividend stocks.

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 »

Gilberto de Piento wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:09 am
Is this because the individual stocks have a higher yield than the stocks in the index funds or for some other reason? I am still trying to decide between a dividend index fund and individual dividend stocks.
Mainly higher yields. The index funds contain a lot of stocks with both low yields AND low growth rates. I do buy fairly low yields every now and then but it's only companies that look like they will make big dividend increases soon.

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 »


--------------------------------------
AUGUST 2018
---------------------------------------


MONEY


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Got a $100 per year dividend raise from Altria. Thank you to all the tobacco addicts.

Things are looking pretty good for C40 industries:
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PROJECT MOM VAN

Ok, here are a bunch of pictures.

It’s a 2018 Dodge Ram Promaster 1500 with a pretty short wheelbase. The floor space inside is about the same as my van. You can see the vent fan and solar panel on top of the van here. I’m quite proud of how clean the top of the van looks. It could’ve been a bit more so if I used the thin and flexible solar panels, but I don’t like those (I think they fail much sooner)

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Installing the flooring. These are vinyl panels left over from my mom’s house.

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And here I’ve started on the ceiling. I put those green bubble wrap pieces in first to fill the higher ribs, and then put some solid foam insulation panels under that.

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Wires for the lights:
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It’s tricky to attach these ceiling panels. Here you can see some a wood piece I added to screw the ceiling panel into (into the bottom surface of the wood)

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Mom wanted the bed to not be particularly high (there’s a trade off between having a high bed vs having a lot of storage space under the bed)
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Ceiling panels and vent fan all in:. You can also see the start of the frame along the wall for mounting the upper cabinets
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These are a certain shape in order to fit in the horizontal ribs and have a vertical surface for mounting cabinets
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And here I’ve added boards for mounting the lower cabinets and the walls. This is tricky to get a vertical surface to mount the cabinets to and to have the wall match up with the top/back of the counter (that’s mainly what those vertical boards are for, more for positioning than support)
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The vertical boards slope inward going down. At the height of the counter, they are directly above the cabinet mounting boards
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Installing the wall panels:
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Top cabinets were next:
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And then the fridge. There is storage room under and behind the fridge. This is the only right way to position one of these kind of refridgerators. Some people put them on the floor (too much bending over) or on a drawer/slider (too annoying to have to move the fridge whenever you want to get in). The tricky part in this is having room for the vents to function, the power cord, and access to the display and control buttons.

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The storage compartments ended up being shaped a little oddly, but they work out alright. The bottom one ends up particularly good, which you’ll see some of in a future post.



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Getting the lower cabinet and drawers ready to install.

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They went in really easily. It took me a LOT of time to get those wall mounting boards positioned right and installed, but they worked out great when it came time to install the cabinets. We used mostly drawers instead of cabinets because they are easier to access. The annoying part is that the volume inside the drawer compartments is actually way less than the total volume of the outside frame. I never noticed how inefficiently drawer space is designed until I got and installed these things.

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Here are the holes for the side fridge vents, the power cord access, and the display and button access.
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With a backsplash installed. The lights on the ceiling are also in. They are LED strips just like in my van. There is one covering each of the white trim boards on the ceiling. They blend in very well with the trim boards.
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Staining wood for counter/table surfaces. We originally bought a manufactured countertop, but decided to return it and get these wood boards. They are not butcher block, but rather “laminate project boards” or something like that. They’re way cheaper - like $35 for the biggest one we used for the counter (which is on the right in this picture). Mom’s staining process is shown from right to left. She was going for a sort of aged sun bleached driftwood look that matches up with the wall panels and floor.

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The counter top. I screwed another board into the back of the wood piece.
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So, what’s left is: (half of these are actually done already, but aren’t shown in the pictures yet)
  • Install counter top
  • Finish the storage boxed below and behind fridge
  • Install the desk/table
  • Install electrical system
  • Build water bottle holder
  • Insulate and add wood panels to (parts of) the side and rear doors
  • Make window covers for the rear doors
  • make/install a curtain to block off the front of the van
  • Do a bunch of little things and finishing touches





INSTAGRAM STORIES:
These are mostly short video clips I’ve shot on my phone throughout the build:

(you can use the arrow buttons (that appear when you move the mouse) to skip forward.

First group:
https://www.instagram.com/stories/highl ... 066174684/

Second group:
https://www.instagram.com/stories/highl ... 132140457/

Third group
https://www.instagram.com/stories/highl ... 151300541/

7Wannabe5
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Very nice! If you do decide to go into the business, I might be able to direct a couple buyers your way. (Unfortunately, not me, unless you offer a super-budget, rust and milk crates version.)

daylen
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by daylen »

Impressive work!

wolf
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Location: Germany

Re: C40's Journal

Post by wolf »

Great work C40! Thank you for the pics. Vantraveling is on my list of adventures I'd like to do/try in the future.

How many hours of work did it take?

There are also many RVs in the states. What are the biggest advantages of Vantraveling vs. RV in your opinion? Size/customization/etc...

SavingWithBabies
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Location: Midwest, USA

Re: C40's Journal

Post by SavingWithBabies »

That is awesome!

Looking at the approach, vacuum infusion fiberglass would slow you way down I think. Maybe at some point, it would be more efficient but it would be way down the line so I think you can safely ignore that suggestion :). I've just had it on the brain.

Is the backsplash plastic? And where is it from? It looks good. And I like your mom's approach to staining to match.

BRUTE
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by BRUTE »

very cool looking from the pictures. isn't the fridge loud when placed right next to the mattress?

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 »

Thanks for the compliments folks. I've been spending a ton of time on this - all summer really, and, while it is a pretty fun project, I'm feeling a bit worn out and ready for a break (or, just as likely, to devote a lot of effort to other things). It's like 2 days of work from being 100% finished now. Pictures to come with my next monthly journal update.


BRUTE wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 2:15 pm
...isn't the fridge loud when placed right next to the mattress?
Not really. It isn't very loud itself. The compressor is on the side facing away from the bed, so it's not right next to it. Also, the van is small, and having it 10 feet away wouldn't be much quieter than 3 feet away. It's white noise anyways, so, it's a feature. :-)


SavingWithBabies wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 12:51 pm
Is the backsplash plastic? And where is it from? It looks good. And I like your mom's approach to staining to match.
Yeah, the backsplash is plastic - cheap, flimsy, thin plastic. I'm not so sure about it's durability. And, for what it is, it was expensive. It was from Home Depot.

wolf wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:42 am
How many hours of work did it take?

There are also many RVs in the states. What are the biggest advantages of Vantraveling vs. RV in your opinion? Size/customization/etc...
Oh, gosh, it took me a LONG time. I did this work deliberately and pretty slowly. I've spent basically 3.5 months on it. Over 500 hours for sure. If I were doing them full time, with a better workshop and templates, it could easily be 300 hours or less.

Advantages vs buying an RV:
  • Way cheaper (if you don't count my labor, and even if you do it's still cheaper). Promaster based RVs generally cost $60-$100k and that's often with shitty electrical systems. This one (a 2018 bought used with 8,000 miles) is like $30k total.
  • Can make it out of more durable materials/equipment (less failures/maintenance)
  • Can make it less complex (fewer things to fail/less maintenance)
  • Can size it to the person who will use it
  • Doesn't have those gaudy paint/sticker jobs on the outside
  • Will lose way less money if/when you sell it (RVs are often horrible depreciation losses unless you buy them when already old)

Disadvantages vs buying an RV:
  • Can take a LOT of time to build
  • There is a ton to figure out and decide
  • Some aspects of fit and finish won't be nearly as nice unless you/builder is really really good.

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 4:38 pm
If you do decide to go into the business, I might be able to direct a couple buyers your way. (Unfortunately, not me, unless you offer a super-budget, rust and milk crates version.)
Oh, that would be nice.

For you, what about a 'paid for by a wealthy lover' budget version? They would be glad to know you're in a reliable van built by an engineer and safety expert, wouldn't they?

RealPerson
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by RealPerson »

Really cool. I wonder about insulation. When living in a small space, wouldn't water vapor inevitably get between the insulation and the metal body work, causing condensation? Not visible from the inside, but likely to give rise to mold growth. I know it gets very cold in a van, but you could drive to a warm climate in the winter. I could be overthinking the water vapor issue. Any experience with this?

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 »

RealPerson wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:15 am
Really cool. I wonder about insulation. When living in a small space, wouldn't water vapor inevitably get between the insulation and the metal body work, causing condensation? Not visible from the inside, but likely to give rise to mold growth. I know it gets very cold in a van, but you could drive to a warm climate in the winter. I could be overthinking the water vapor issue. Any experience with this?
Yeah, having it significantly warmer inside the van than it is outside is a bad idea. A van is really tricky to try to insulate thoroughly. My take is that you should just let it be about the same temperature as it is outside. When it's cold, go somewhere warmer and/or wear more clothes/use more blankets. Some people use heaters that burn propane to warm up their vans and it's a really poor choice, as burning enough propane to warm it up puts out a ton of water vapor as exhaust. So you've got that, plus condensation happening, and eventually (depending on where you are) mold.

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 »


--------------------------------------
SEPTEMBER 2018
---------------------------------------


MONEY

Spending:
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Spending vs income since retiring:
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Net worth in years:
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(this shot up a lot because some high spending months from a year ago dropped out of the rolling 12 months that I use for spending… These numbers are sort of inflated at the moment because I don’t have money tied up in or going towards housing)






PROJECT MOM VAN - FINISHED!

Alright, it’s all done.

Cost breakdown:
  • Van price: ~$24k (2018 model, bought used with about 8k miles)
  • Conversion: ~$8k
Pictures:

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I forgot to take pictures of the electrical system all finished. Here it is partly installed:
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Mom has sold her house and left Oklahoma. Right now she’s down at a nice looking beach in Mississippi or Alabama. Her next work assignment is a job based in Mississippi, where they will set her up with a hotel room. So she’ll be working during the week and using the hotel room, and then will probably go on a lot of little weekend trips with the van.




WINTER PLANS / ROUTE

I’ve left Oklahoma and I think I’ll go hangout in Southern California during the coldest months. I’m in Kansas now, basically on my way to Denver. I’m thinking I’ll go through New Mexico and Arizona on my way to California. On this migration, I’ll be focused a lot on checking out cities and considering whether I’d like to live there. I haven’t spent much time in New Mexico. So I’ll want to see what Santa Fe and Albuquerque are like, plus maybe some smaller cities. In Arizona I’m mostly interested in checking out Tucson. I’ve been in all the other large Arizona cities enough to have a good feel for them.

More to come later on the subject of choosing where to live….

classical_Liberal
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

I'm a huge fan of New Mexico, but it really depends what you like. Lot's of empty space and places to camp, beautiful desert mountain landscapes. The altitude changes create dramatic temp differences, so if you stay relatively mobile you can pick climate to suit the season. Sante Fe historic district has a cool vibe, mix of old money, touristy folks and normal locals. Albuquerque is like most moderate sized cities with too much sprawl. The people of NM remind me of Midwest nice, but without the horrible winters.

I only spent about a week in Tucson. Not a huge fan of the city proper, but 4th Street and Congress are the hipster areas near the college. Nice outlying open space, including the mountains and saguaro. Real estate remains relatively cheap compared to other AZ cities though. The "burbs" around Tucson are filled with the 60+ retiree crowds. I would bet summers temps are brutal, I don't care to experience them.

The van looks awesome!

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 »

—————————

OCTOBER 2018

—————————

Ok - big news for me. I'm a resident again.

On my way southwest for winter, I stopped in Albuquerque and Tucson to see if I’d like to live in either. Albuquerque is in a cool area, seems to have great weather, etc. But I was not a fan of the people there. Basically, there are tons of people suffering with homelessness, hard drug addiction, and severe mental illness. Then, there are also just a lot of crummy/loser type folks there. It definitely seems to have potential to improve, but without knowing the city well, I wouldn’t want to drop anchor there.

Now, Tucson, I liked better. It has some similarities to Albuquerque: nice outdoors stuff right by the city, dry and mostly warm climate, and cheap homes. And, importantly, the people in Tucson have their lives together much better. There isn’t nearly the same level of suffering and crumminess. Aside from a large proportion of very ‘normal’ seeming people here, there are: many students (The University of Arizona campus is here), and quite a lot of earthy/hippie/spiritual/yoga/herbal medicine/“desert rat” type people - which seem interesting to me. One thing missing - it there don’t seem to be very many young people with high incomes or lots of professional success. I think there just isn’t all that much here as far as industry/technology or other high-earning jobs. A higher than normal portion of men here are employed by the border patrol, military (there’s an air force base with 6,000 people), and the military industrial complex (Raytheon and Boeing(?) factories). There are TONS of outdoors stuff nearby, though I haven’t been out exploring yet. Mountains just on the north edge of town go up quickly to 9,000 feet, and there is plenty of desert stuff around.


—————————

So…

I decided that I like it enough to try it out for a while. I rented a tiny little house for 6 months. It’s a guest house, which are known around here as a “casita”. I’ll be getting a nice taste of living in one place again in a ‘normal’ way, checking out the city, getting to know people here, etc. I’m hoping that I like it here enough to want to buy a house to live here long-term. If I do buy something, I’ll likely try to do it in a way that keeps my housing costs low, like buying a house that has a casita and then renting out the house while I live in the casita. That could match up well with traveling regularly in the summers without the expenses of being a homeowner weighing on me.

The house is really small: just 250 square feet. That’s 4x the area inside my van though, and like 10x the volume. It is very simple and quite nice inside. It seems to be plenty of space for ‘living’ - at least by myself. There won’t be room for more space-intensive hobbies (van conversions, numerous bikes, motorcycle and motorcycle projects, gardening, beekeeping, building things, etc..), so those will mostly have to wait until some later day.

Here are some pictures of the house:

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There’s a closet and bathroom in the back. And a washer and dryer outside (yeah, that’s a thing they do in the southwest).

I rented it for $575 a month. That includes ALL utilities and also Wifi. It was listed at $625, and I negotiated down to the $575 along with or by paying the rent for the entire 6 month least up front. So I’ll have this place until at least the end of April. I like the location fairly well. It’s a ten minute walk to go downtown, and a ten minute bike ride to campus. (I rented it in November, so you’ll see a big chunk of spending, though I will likely spread the rent cost out over each month).

I got some furniture already - inexpensive stuff from Ikea. I want to build the rest: a bed frame with room to store things underneath, and likely some type of shelves along that wall by the door. That will have to wait until I go get some things from my sister’s basement in Denver - including tools. I’ve been waffling about whether it’s worth driving all the way up there with my inefficient van. It’ll be $350 of gas per round trip. If I decide to move on from Tucson in 6 months, that would probably mean driving up to Denver again, and then that would be an expensive way to use my stuff for just 5-6 months. So I’ve been working on a list of what things I would bring down from there. So far, it’s like $1,700 worth of stuff. If I don’t go get it, I would buy very few of those things down here. Whether I go is mainly a question of how confident I am that I’ll want to stay here in Tucson long-term.



—————————

Plans while here

—————————
  • Get a feel for living in a normal home, in a city, while not working. (I haven’t ever done this, as I sold my last house and took off in the van before I quit my job)
  • Make friends. Get a good lover (or a few).
  • Try out some ways to generate income. (For now: portrait photography. I’ve posted a simple ad on craigslist and seem to be getting about one client per week. Also, a friend who lives here seems to want to hire me to build out his van.)
  • Explore the city, get to know different parts of it well
  • Go explore areas around the city, mountains, desert, etc.
  • Get and start riding a motorcycle. Use for most of my non-bicycle transportation around the city, and for exploration and camping trips out to the mountains and deserts. I hate driving my 12-15mpg van now that it's not also my home. Right now I’m thinking about getting a cheap little dual sport, like a Yamaha TW200 or a Suzuki Vanvan 200. Gonna take the MSF course soon. I've been reading books and looking at way too many websites and youtube videos.

-----------

[Also, I hav a new annoyance. Flickr - the website where I store tons of pictures, has now announced that they are limiting their free accounts to only 1,000 pictures. I have, I believe, a few thousand uploaded on my main account there. All the pictures on this journal are hosted there. This means there is a good chance that some or maybe nearly ALL the pictures in this journal thread will disappear. I’m probably not going to feel like going through all the posts, re-uploading the pictures, and re-linking them.]

classical_Liberal
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by classical_Liberal »

@C40 That place looks perfect! Exactly the type of place I'd feel comfortable in. Considering the timeframe (cooler months), I think you got a great deal too!

My mom winters in Green Valley just south of you, there's a good chance my annual month-long road trip will have a stop over there. If you're in town and interested in a ERE meet up, let me know.

7Wannabe5
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Very nice. I have the same reading chair in my BF's Amish-built deep-woods shed, which is just a bit smaller. Great minds think alike, I guess :lol:

Jason
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by Jason »

Despite the structure being 250', it appears as though it might have actually been expanded. There is a change in masonry as well as a beam running across the ceiling. I could be wrong, but I don't see a reason why it would have been built that way if it was originally 250'.

Whether it was intentional or not, I like how you your possessions give it a designed look. And that one chair porch sends a serious message to your neighbors.

It also makes me confront the amount of crap I have in my home. And well, in my head.

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