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Old 03-06-2017, 10:54 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1
We want a loft...

My boyfriend and I are planning on building our own skoolie soon. We are at stage one: finding the right bus. In order to determine which is the right bus for us we're trying to figure out how big of a bus we'llc need. I'd really like to do a partial roof raise so we can have a sleeping loft but my boyfriend says it will be too complicated. We don't know how to weld and we don't know any welders off hand. He thinks we can just cut a whole in the ceiling (like a 8ft×6ft hole on the back end) and then build a wooden structure on top. From the reading I've done on here many are saying that can't be done. So my question is, how do we build a loft without welding? Thanks!
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Old 03-07-2017, 12:37 AM   #2
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,121
It is possible to cut a hole in the roof and build a wooden second story.

I doubt you could ever make it sturdy enough to make it safe to drive down the road.

You could build a platform on the roof that could be the floor for a tent or some sort of pop up that could be accessed by either an exterior ladder or through a roof hatch.

It is already very difficult to find adequate insurance for a converted school bus. If your conversion is not very conventional in appearance or made out of alternative materials you may find that adequate insurance will be impossible to find.

I don't know how helpful I have been but I hope this helps.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
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Old 03-07-2017, 10:50 AM   #3
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Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Bemidji MN
Posts: 209
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Carpenter Body
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 65 to Zero. Folding Chair
Hi and welcome
The bus is a big step, the size you want depends on what you want to do.
Some folks get by with a shorty and other go as big as they can.
If, it is going to be a weekend road trip bus then size is optional.
If, it is going to be a full time living bus home then bigger is better.
It really depends on what you want.

For the loft, I like the idea.
I did a lift on my bus of about 18 inches.
It was not as hard as I thought it would be.
It was scary but, I did it and entirely by myself in a few hours.
So, I have no doubt a couple can do it.

The factors for what you are thinking are:
Legal vehicle height in your state or region.
In my state 14 feet is the max. This included top mounted items as well.
The original height of my bus was 10 feet, so lifting 18 inches put me to nearly 12 feet. You dont want to push the limit as some bridges, might be a foot shorter than others.

My bus interior was about 6'2, if you lifted the roof 18 inches it would be 7'8 and that is not very tall. Under standard interior height, much less a loft above and functional room below. My immediate idea is flipping it around. You could put a crawl space bedroom on the ground level and a living area above, I think the steps up and increased height would give a better view or more open of a feeling.

It is all up to you, you can be as creative as you like. The best thing that I have learned during my skoolie time was welding. A $100 buzz box welder, $100 helmet haha and a lot of time and rods opened so many doors for my bus it is amazing. A few things to think about and consider, it is fun and dont be off put by everything. It is a lot but, everyone comes one by one.

D.L. Jones III
"The Independence"
98 International
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Old 04-20-2017, 12:16 AM   #4
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Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: So Ill
Posts: 223
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner
The crawl space bed is a good idea, I was also considering a floating bedspace above with a living area below, I had my college dorm set up like that. But either way could potentially work. I guess it also depends on if you have a FE or RE, could build over the RE, might not change the floor space much at all if you did it that way...

I really wanted a bedroom loft but considering my fear of low clearance crashes I'm reconsidering it. I just worry about a cramped living space.
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Old 04-20-2017, 01:51 AM   #5
Bus Nut
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Greater Boston
Posts: 482
I'm not so sure its a great idea.

For drivability sake, you want to keep under 13 feet. I'm not sure why, but 13 feet seems to be a fairly standard minimum clearance height.

If your bus is 10-ish feet tall now, that means your "loft" will only be three feet tall. A good mattress is going to be 6 inches - so your "loft" now has 2.5 feet of headroom.

I'd much rather put my bed on a 2-foot platform with storage underneath, and just have the rest of the "normal" headroom up to the bus ceiling.

I'd also consider a murphy bed, that hinges up against a wall of the bus when not in use. A full-size mattress is roughly 4x6 - so you could put it sideways, and have it fold up against the back wall. A queen would fit the long way (front-back) if you folded it up against a side wall when not being used.
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Old 04-20-2017, 07:47 AM   #6
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Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Duluth, MN
Posts: 25
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 71
Just to throw this out there, my wife and I are planning a two foot-ish roof raise in order to accommodate a loft. The plan is to fit about 5-1/2 feet underneath the loft so my wife can stand up. I'm 6' 2" so that's not very realistic for me. This will leave us with about 2 feet above the mattress in the loft. Which is perfectly fine for sleeping as far as we are concerned. My college dorm was set up about exactly like this which is where I came up with the idea.

Even a tall guy like me fit underneath the raised dorm bed. Yeah I had to stoop but it was great usable living space and we want to replicate that in the bus.

Our plan is to have stairs going up to it. The wall opposite the bed will have cubby storage for clothes and the like and the space under the stairs will be storage for hanging clothes accessible from the room under the bed.

Either way. This is just a plan and all plans change. What I want to do is find a way to make the loft height adjustable with some kind of jack... so when were are sleeping we can lower the bed for more height and when we are in the room underneath we can raise the bed up. Call me a dreamer. ;0

But yeah... all this revolves around welding in the roof raise so take that for what it is. I hope you can find a method that works for you!
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Old 04-20-2017, 11:28 AM   #7
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Marietta, GA
Posts: 192
I plan to steal this idea.

A simple garage lift and some hardware makes a loft bed that can be lowered at night, and kept up by the ceiling during the day. It doesn't obstruct windows like a murphy bed would, keeping the small living space more open feeling. You can also bring the bed down low enough to climb in without needing a ladder or stairs that take up precious space.
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Old 04-20-2017, 11:38 AM   #8
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Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 115
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Gillig
Chassis: Phantom Schoolbus
Engine: Detroit Diesel 6v92TA
Rated Cap: 84
I like this idea too... but you're not going to have nearly as much ceiling height to work with as a tiny house does. The floor of a tiny house is MUCH lower than a school bus floor to start with. I think it's pretty normal for a school bus floor to be 36-42" off the ground. Even with max roof raise, you won't have as much room as a tiny house.
Visit my Skoolie resource website -
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Old 04-20-2017, 11:42 AM   #9
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Marietta, GA
Posts: 192
With an 18" raise, we have plenty of room for a platform and mattress over the cab with headroom to spare.
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Old 07-30-2017, 10:24 PM   #10
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100% doable
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bed clearance, loft, roof raise, sleeping loft, welding

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