How to Convert a Small School Bus Into a Living Space

With mounting expenses and few opportunities for increasing income, downsizing may be an appropriate option. One creative way to downsize is to move into a converted school bus. Buses of all sizes may be used, and the general process for converting a small bus differs little from the process of converting a full-size bus. Individuals seeking more guidance than the basic steps may connect with like-minded individuals on Skoolie.net, a forum dedicated to uniting owners of converted buses.

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Replace the yellow paint, and this could be the doorway to your new home.

Step 1

Change the vehicle's official identity to that of a recreational vehicle. This change is processed through the DMV. Required documentation and fees differ somewhat from state to state. This step is essential because it significantly reduces insurance costs and allows you to legally park and live inside your bus.

Step 2

Obtain insurance coverage for your bus. You will insure it as though it's a recreational vehicle.

Step 3

Park your bus is a safe place and strip it of outer safety equipment. Spray paint over the words "school bus" and remove or paint over the exterior if yellow. Many states consider it illegal to maintain any features unique to school buses.

Step 4

Remove the seats. This can be done using a ratcheting socket wrench or air tools. When the seats are gone, check the floor for weaknesses and cut out any soft spots.

Step 5

Remove heater hoses, and connect the hot water supply and return on the engine block. Heater hoses sometimes contain antifreeze, so be careful and dispose of fluid properly.

Step 6

Re-enforce each side of the bus with two lengths of 2-by-12s. Secure them with long bolts that penetrate the vehicle's walls and 2-by-12s placed on the interior walls.

Step 7

Insulate your bus as you would a house. The insulation helps maintain a constant temperature and aids with sound-proofing as well.

Step 8

Sketch a floor plan for your bus. You have freedom to be creative. Looking in various types of campers may help you generate ideas. Begin framing walls when your plans are complete. You may wish to hire a professional carpenter to help at this point.

Step 9

Complete all wiring and plumbing. This is also a step where you may benefit from professional assistance. In general, buses can be wired to power basic electronic devices such as laptop computers and television sets. They can also support small refrigerators and cook-tops in many cases. Plumbing will usually support a sink and a toilet built the same way as those found in campers.

Step 10

Furnish the camper and install any custom elements such as cabinets or paneling. If using a refrigerator and cabinets, stock them with your favorite food. Your new home is ready.