J.B. said "Les is the man when it comes to qualified responses"; what he really meant was that I can type as much as I can talk...and that's a lot!
There are actually quite a few folks in this group that have a lot more experience then I with these Skoolies; Soused Moose in particular has been an inspiration to me and has a great web site. Everyone contributes quite a lot here and guys like Steve (our group owner) and Lapeer keep us on the sorta straight and narrow.
Every one seems to do something just a bit different and has a different goal in mind but that's great because one gets to learn and think about things in a way that might not have happened without this eclectic mix of folks.
I agree with Michael (Soused Moose); the underlying and unifying theme in all Skoolies is cost. If I do the same layout in a Prevost, MCI, GMC or other over-the-road coach as I do in the Skoolie my conversion costs (other than shell preparation) are going to be the same (unless I go nuts because I've got a big OTR coach, which is a distinct possibility!). Given that I bought a nice school bus that I really like for $2100 and that most OTR coaches I've considered (at the low end) seem to run in the $15K range that (about) $13K difference will always exist. Using new materials and installing a fair number of "niceties" in our conversion I'm going to be able to put my fully converted Skoolie on the road for less then the cost of the basic OTR coach shell. And that's NOT a slam on OTR coaches; for some folks they're the only way to go!
A close second for me was the ability to tailor the interior arrangement to our needs. Short of walking into Marathon Coach and handing them a million dollars plus (which I don't have
); I can't get a workable interior for our needs unless I do it my self.
A close third (after the close second) was the ability to travel off the beaten path with fewer concerns about getting the rig stuck because a) it's too low to the ground or b) the turning radius is too large because the wheelbase is so long that I can't turn around.
I started my bus seach with an OTR coach in mind but just couldn't pass up the perfect (for me) mix of road clearance, ease of maintenance, short turning radius, interior arrangement flexibility and cost savings attained by using a school bus as a conversion base.
In the long run I didn't (and don't) care about resale; I'll have little enough in the bus when converted (well under $20K) that after many years of traveling in it I'll be able drive it to a dump and feel like it gave me back every penny. More than likely it'll still have lots of life left in it and I'll be able to get a couple thousand (in todays' dollars) back for it. Shoot, I'd lose $20K in the first year of ownership if I bought a new modern motorhome (and I wouldn't be as safe on the road). I also wouldn't take a modern RV where I'm planning to take the bus.
Anyway, there's $.02 worth for now...