So you want to build a Skoolie or a Tiny House? Well there are a few things to consider first:
1. Money: Before you even get the school bus or material to start your conversion you need the money. It is not cheap and while you work on the bus you still need living expenses as well. We saved thousands of dollars before even thinking of beginning our build and we also work part time at Dominos Pizza at night so that we may work on the bus during the day. We also don’t need to worry about rent and bills since we live currently with family who were nice enough to put us up during our build. Try to price out everything you are thinking about getting for the build so you have a rust estimate of how much money you need for the build.
2. Time: Do you have the time to dedicate each day to complete the process of the build. We estimate that it will take us 6 months to finish the build, however it is different for everyone and could take longer or shorter for your build. It depends on how many other obligations you have on top of the build; bills, job, family , etc. We are lucky and can live with just working jobs at night part-time so that we have money for living expenses.
3. Ability: Do you have the physical ability to build something like this by hand? You are building a home which includes a lot of heavy lifting and strenuous days. Skill is another part of ability. You don’t have to be a master builder to build a skoolie but it does help to know somethings or know someone who has building experience. You need to be willing to learn along the way so that it is possible to build everything correctly. The more you know the less time it will take to complete a task.
4. Motivation/Drive: This is going to be a long and difficult project to complete so you definitely need drive to continue through hard times. Everyday we sometimes need to remind ourselves of the beauty of the end results to help us keep building. Its so easy to get frustrated since during your build you will run into a lot of set backs and mess ups. It is how you handle the bad is how you will get to the good. Your life will continue while you build this project so outside elements from the build might put stress on you as well. You just have to keep on keeping on!
5. Space: A school bus is not a small item to stash for a few months or a year while building. You will need land to park the bus while working on it. Make sure you are on private property since if you rent you will most likely be forced to move the bus. You will also want space to work outside for cutting wood, tile, or anything else you may use as building material. Another thing to think about space wise, will you be fine living in a small space? They are called Tiny Homes for a reason. How many people/animals will be living in the space and how will you accommodate everyone’s clothes and other items? We knew it would be us two and our three dogs. Our biggest space issue was where to put all three dogs beds for sleeping. We came up with a solution of raising our queen size bed and putting their beds underneath. This however made it so there were less space for our other items so we had to minimize and get rid of a lot of clothes and other personal items.
6. Material/Resources: You will need a lot of building supplies to convert a school bus into a mobile home and even more material for a tiny house. Materials are not cheap and this is definitely something to think about when saving up money. We found that Habitat for Humanity is a great resource but if you want everything brand new then you are doubling or even tripling your budget.
7. Tools: A project like this requires an array of different power tools. Tools are another thing to put into your plans when saving money since tools are EXPENSIVE. If you know someone with tools you should definitely buddy up and see if you can borrow them or do a favor in return for the use since some of the tools you only need for a little bit of time. We are lucky that a majority of Forrest family and friends own many different tools and are nice enough to let us borrow them. This was one of the main reasons we moved to Virginia to do the school bus conversion instead of just staying in Florida.
These are just a few topics to think about before jumping into a project like this. We have seen a few people try to start this and end up running out of funds or finding that it was harder than they imagined. We want you to succeed and to do so is to plan ahead and learn as much as you can before putting any time or money into this project. However, if you have the money and will to tackle this project then we hope to see you out in the skoolie community. Don’t be afraid to ask people who have already started this project because they are your biggest assets and most will be thrilled to tell you what worked for them and what didn’t.
Hope to see you on the road! Your friends Forrest and Jessica @ Bus With Us. Subscribe to our Youtube Channel here. Instagram, and lastly join our Facebook group here https://www.facebook.com/groups/buswithus/about/.