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Old 05-04-2016, 09:15 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
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Quickest way to make a shortie livable

I'm not going to be able to afford a real deal conversion anytime soon, but want to be able to live fairly comfortably and potentially see clients in a short bus quickly. What are the simplest, cheapest steps I can take to have a comfortable and attractive short bus in the Seattle area climate? Is there a simple way of anchoring basic furniture without getting in the way of more in depth renovations in the future? Ways to charge basic electronics (phone, ipad, laptop) and necessary cooling or heating would also be helpful.

Thanks for your time!
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Old 05-04-2016, 09:40 PM   #2
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Are you planning to use the bus during the winter?
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Old 05-04-2016, 09:45 PM   #3
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I don't think that I'll still need to use it as my home come winter, but will want to use it for my office. I may have enough money by then to do a more proper setup, but want to be able to hop in sometime in June.
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Old 05-04-2016, 10:18 PM   #4
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Have you considered buying a skoolie that someone is selling? It takes most people several years to get through a proper build. It's not the money issue as much as it is the one man workforce and having a regular life that you have to keep us with at the same time.
I'd say you would be an excellent candidate for a used book mobile. Obviously they aren't as common but the look nice, have low miles and generally already have a small bathroom, black tank and generator. Lots of shelves too, which is perfect if you're into nicknacks.
I'm thinking the only way you're going to make it into a short bus by June is to buy one already finished. As a faster build some people just build a nice looking interior and attach it directly to the inner skin of the bus. That's a frowned on conversion, but a lot of people in warmer climates do that type of build. If you're in there in the winter in your location either you're going to have a big heating bill or you're going to be wrapped up in an electric blanket.
Even if you don't live in your bus in the winter you'll still want to put some kind of small heat source in the bus, even a single old fashioned light bulb does a lot to stop condensation and mold growth while you're not using the bus, especially if you're using it to store anything. Actually mold growth is the reason most people strip the interior to insulate. Pretty much nearly every bus has some mold in the old insulation. Dust gets on the insulation and builds up, then moisture gets in there and things start a growing. You don't seem to be planning on using your bus that much, but even as an office during the winter how are you planning to heat it?
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Old 05-04-2016, 10:28 PM   #5
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Sad. Assuming I build up a fair clientele, I would be using the bus a lot, even when not living in it. Problem with buying a conversion is that, as far as I've seen, they're far beyond affordable for me. I've been looking at ones that run at $2,000. 😬 So, throwing down a nice rug and futon furniture ain't gonna cut it, huh?

On the insulation note, how much does that cost, and how do you avoid getting mold in the future?

Thanks so much!!
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Old 05-04-2016, 10:31 PM   #6
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Oh, and in terms of heating it, I'm not entirely sure of my options. Space heater? Eh...
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Old 05-04-2016, 10:44 PM   #7
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Yeah, most of the completes skoolies seem to go for $20k or less. Every now and then I see something very livable for $8k.
Have you considered how much money you're going to have to put into a bus to get it livable? It can be done at minimal expense but you have to be resourceful to take advantage of free or cheap things to use to fix up your bus. It helps if you've got a barn or a shed to work in.
Actually a few of us have just wintered in our buses with the carpet and futon and that's what convinces us to insulate, and you and I share the same weather. Wood stoves work well because of the dry heat but that may be a problem for you if you're in town. A pellet stove would be convenient for you, but most require 110 volt to operate. Propane is the obvious answer, but it makes the interior of the bus sweat enough to drip on you. That's another reason there just about has to be mold in the walls. Electric heat is obviously the best city solution if you can plug in or have a generator, but then generators are distracting.

Most of us strip the inner skin out completely then begin insulating as you would in a house. It's also the best time to address any leaks. Some prefer to insulate with spray foam, others use rigid foam boards and there are numerous methods. Some cover windows with metal and insulate to reduce heat loss or gain.
Something else to consider, if have a rider on your vehicle insurance clause about using your bus for your work. Otherwise if you have an accident and they find out you're using it for work, they won't cover the accident. Insurance is getting difficult a lot of the time.
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Old 05-04-2016, 10:52 PM   #8
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Thank you so much for your input. My first post on these boards, probably last week, was in regards to budgeting, as I'm clueless about it.

The insurance issue does seem really really complicated. I haven't known who to consult about it, as I've only come across retailers in buses, not offices, which seems like a different bag. It is becoming more apparent that I'm a bit out of my depth.
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:23 PM   #9
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Not to worry. It's just another used car. Do you have a bus yet? It doesn't sound like you have much time to work on it.
Budgeting is simple. Most of us move into the bus to figure out what we need versus what we want. Thank goodness you can't go buy all the stuff you need at once because you'll probably change your mind more than once. Figure out what is your highest priority to have in the bus and work on that first. It's faster if you can keep it simple. Most of us like our comforts. Remember you need to anchor everything down. Furniture is what I did when I moved in here, but that has slowly been replaced by items that are more useful for storage. Space is premium.
Insurance comes easiest when you contact your "local independent insurance agent." If you do that you'll avoid being disappointed from hours of trying to get insurance online. They will probably want to take a couple pics of the bus so it's best to do that while it's empty. I assume you're not registering it as an RV. Remember these words; you want a "commercial policy for private use." They don't like to give you more than liability insurance because they don't want to buy you another bus if you wreck that one, but the policy takes care of your medical and the other guy of course.
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Old 05-04-2016, 11:39 PM   #10
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We live in Colorado, which has a more severe climate than Seattle does. We do not full time in our bus, but we do go camping at times when the highs are in the 40's and the lows are in the 20's. We use a Mr. Buddy propane heater and we are comfortable with sleeping bags and comforters. We have not added any insulation to the bus. You may be able to get by without adding a bunch of insulation if you have a heating source that will keep things comfortable in your climate.
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Old 05-05-2016, 09:59 AM   #11
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Your best bet since you are looking to make a mobile office quickly with little effort might be to buy a used Class A or Class C rv and do some interior modifications to make the layout match your business needed. An rv will already have all the systems properly installed (generator/electrical, HVAC, bathroom, etc) and will be much more accepted and professional looking as a mobile business than a school bus will. You can have the outside wrapped with your company name/logo to complete the professional look needed to be successful. Just a thought.
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Old 05-05-2016, 10:34 AM   #12
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for heat and A/Cwhen im inside my bus I just plan to fire up the diesel engine.. if I were full-timing or campng I guess that wouldnt work.. but as far as seeing clients in it.. maybe you can go that route?

as mentioned a propane heater is an option.. though an open flame in a bus.. esp in cold weather seems like a lot of cndensation occurs on the windowsand bus metal.. but I may be wrong about that..

-Christopher
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Old 05-05-2016, 10:58 AM   #13
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For heat you can use a mr heater portable buddy buy the one that has 18k btu i think. Second, you at a bare minimum want to tear down to bare metal floor. It is important to address rust as soon as possible. Once you seal the metal floor, create a floating floor. Use normal 3/4inch wood and frame out your bedroom and bathroom. I then suggest carpeting the floor and installing a desk in the front. This should give you the key spaces you want and allow you to in the future remodel.

NOTE: you will have to tear down the framing to do future remodels as well as pull all the rug. To be honest, based on what im guessing your budget is 4-5k total. Your bus will be of lesser quality and driveability and your interior space, unless you get quality reclaimed pieces for free will look a bit, well cheap. I am not including plumbing or electrical either.
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Old 05-05-2016, 06:38 PM   #14
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This is just not adding up for me. You don't have enough time or enough money. Anything you buy will HAVE TO BE stripped to the bones and re-surfaced with SOMETHING because you can't take clients for money into an environment that may not be minimally healthy.

I'm guessing from your screen name and the use of the word "client" that you might be a clinical hypnotist by trade, or at least some sort of mental health professional. How are you going to bring a client into that environment and make them feel relaxed and secure if the place is draped with blankets and used IKEA furniture and you are offering a sleeping bag for comfort?

Again, I have no intention of offending you, belittling you, or making fun of you. It just seems to me that if I understand the constraints on your situation, they add up to "No way, Jose. Not even a little bit."

My wife is an LCSW. When she hung out an independent shingle she found a cooperative that had office space with a waiting room and 4 small offices off it suitable for therapy. She paid $10/hr for the use of an office, as many or as few as she needed. It worked for her for the year or so she tried indie work.

I stand prepared to be corrected.
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Old 05-05-2016, 08:47 PM   #15
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The tip about insurance is really helpful. Thanks for the time you take to respond to everyone's questions!
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Old 05-05-2016, 08:50 PM   #16
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Thanks for the ideas! I'm stuck on the aesthetics of a school bus...RVs make me feel quite claustrophobic, but you're right about practicality!
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Old 05-05-2016, 08:53 PM   #17
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Tricky for sure! Definitely not a fan of idling cars, so alternatives to that are great. Thanks for your input!
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Old 05-05-2016, 08:56 PM   #18
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Yeah, the impracticality of my fantasy is becoming very apparent. I may be overestimating my ingenuity! Thanks for your input!
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Old 05-05-2016, 09:08 PM   #19
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Joining this forum and having an opportunity to get so many questions answered has definitely laid bare how unprepared for a project like this I am! I don't doubt that I'm aesthetically savvy enough to make the interior attractive, even in early stages (so no sleeping bag or hanging blankets, ahem), but you are absolutely right that I do not want to invite anyone into a space that is anything but healing. I've unfortunately not come across anything priced even near as cheap as $10 an hour!!! Disadvantage of office shares is the inability to cater my own space, which is very important to me, but yes, office shares with other individuals in the healing arts are plentiful. Thanks for your input!
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Old 05-05-2016, 09:21 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypnobus View Post
Thanks for the ideas! I'm stuck on the aesthetics of a school bus...RVs make me feel quite claustrophobic, but you're right about practicality!

me too... thats why im not ripping out the original interior of my bus.. I bought a BUS.. and thats what I want.. and thats what I will have..

sure i'll move things around inside.. and you can definitely make things look nice inside a bus..

im going to give you my OPINION.. and I know others will take issue with it...

1. you dont HAVE to remove all of your ceilings and walls unless your bus truly has a major water / mold / air quality problem... you can test the air quality.. or if your bus smells musty, rank, or has water leaks in prolonged rain then yes your bus should be gutted out.. but not all busses leak bad..

if I were living full-time in my bus I would probably be a lot more inclined to gut and rebuild.. otherwise not so much.. my last bus was 20+ years old when i got it and didnt leak a drop.. i stored it indoors when I wasnt using it..

an electronic air-cleaner can help with some of the "old bus smell" as long as noted above you dont have tons of mold.

2. you CAN heat with propane using a Heat exchanger based heater.. one where the Flames are in a chamber and exhausted to the outside while warm, dry air is blown into the cabin.. similar to the furnace in a house... thus eliminating the moisture from the flames..

3. mini-blinds (esp when anchored at top and bottom look nice on bus windows.. and also look modern and semi-professional.. (buy metal ones.. the plastic ones will de-form in hot hot sun)..

4. air conditioning solves a lot of moisture issues.. a good A/C that dehumidifes well makes things much nicer .. there are inverter-driven portable units now that need simply a couple 4-6" round holes cut to the outside for operation and do a dandy job of humidity removal...

yes you will need a generator or connection to shore-power to run them..


just my thoughts.. others can flame away.. but nevertheless I have no plans of pulling down my ceilings in my bus unless I cant breath... then im going to make a real go at pulling them down in such a way I can replace them for that BUS FEEL...

-Christopher
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