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Old 06-07-2018, 01:18 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Ontario
Posts: 18
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Chevy
Rated Cap: 20
Comprehensive Guide to Buying, Registering and Insuring a Skoolie in Ontario

I’ve recently hit the road with my short skoolie about a year after my original purchase. I faced a lot of struggles with the whole process and jumped through just about every hoop they had. Nonetheless I persevered and got it done, so now I would like to help out any others who are currently taking on the endeavor or anyone who will be in the future. I’ll explain what I did first just for some context, then I’ll explain what I think would be the best way, the way I wish I had gone about it.

I bought my short bus online on Kijiji for $2500. Unfortunately, I had to tow the bus 50km for $400 to the place I would be working on it. I had to do this because I could not drive it until I registered it and got insurance, I could not get insurance on it until it got a safety and was converted to a motorhome, and I could not convert it or safety it until I could drive it. I was in quite the pickle and ended up having to tow it. Then all summer I worked on the conversion whenever I had time off from my summer job. I finished the conversion for the most part but had to go back to university for one more year during which time I did not work on my bus and it just sat in my driveway. After my 4th year of school I finished up the conversion and was ready to get insurance. It was hell trying to find insurance companies but in the end, there was an easy solution, the Cooperators. It says right on their website that they cover converted motorhomes including those from school buses and vans. The reason it took me a while to secure it with them is that they were crappy at getting back to me and I had to keep calling and going to them. Anyway, the cooperators don’t require an appraisal which I had already wasted $250 on because every other company said they wanted one first. Cooperators just needed the vehicle to get a safety and be registered as a fit motorhome. In order to register the vehicle as a fit motorhome with the MTO I simply had to write down on paper the details of my conversion and provide the safety papers from the mechanic. As far as the conversion details they require 4 of the following: power supply separate from the bus (solar or generator), cooking facilities, a toilet, water supply, refrigerator, heating or air conditioning. Once that happened, I got insurance for $470/year as a 22 year old male with no traffic violations or other bad history. That comes out to about $40/month and I am able to turn it off to have just comprehensive coverage during winter months when I’m not driving.

This is what I should have done and what you should do if you are going about this. First off you want to be able to drive it so you don’t have to tow it to where you are working on it and because it helps if you can drive it to home depot or wherever. If you can get the previous owner to drive the vehicle to a mechanic or know a mechanic who will let you use there plates (good luck) you should use one of those options to get the bus to a garage and get it checked out and hopefully it will pass a safety. Once it passes the safety I would get the cheap basics such as a bucket toilet, mini-fridge, jug of water and a propane stove. “Install” these things as much or as little as you wish then go to the MTO with your new ownership, safety papers and written description of the conversion (make this part sound nice and detailed and they accept it without hassle) and you can now register the vehicle as a fit motorhome. Then go to the Cooperators, who you should have already gotten a quote from by the way because it can take a few days, show them the vehicle’s new registration as a fit motorhome and they will give you your insurance. Then go back to the MTO with your insurance and you can now get license plates for your Skoolie! Put those plates on that bus and away you go. Now you can do the real converting and drive it where you need to.

That’s all confusing so here’s a basic step by step point form list:
• Get bus from seller to local garage probably via a tow. CAA is worth a try if you have it but might not work because it won’t be licensed.
• Get bus checked out by trusted mechanic and have them safety it. Perhaps try to hold off purchasing if the seller is okay to wait for it to pass a safety.
• Install bare minimum for conversion (bucket toilet, mini-fridge, jug of water, propane stove).
• Go to MTO with ownership, safety and written description of conversion (make this sound detailed and well done and you shouldn’t have any problems, they won’t check).
• Go to Cooperators (you should have already gotten a quote at some point earlier because it can take a few days) and sign for your insurance.
• Take your insurance slip to the MTO to get your license plates.
• Put your license plates on your skoolie and drive off into the sunset.
• Complete the conversion wherever you want because you can drive it.

Trust me, if you go about it this way you will save a lot of time, money and effort. I hope this helps make skoolies a more accessible option for Ontarians and we can really get the ball rolling.

Keep at it,
Brendan
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Old 05-06-2019, 05:31 AM   #2
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Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
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Old 05-06-2019, 08:37 AM   #3
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Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: Barrie ON
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Year: 1997
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That's a good layout for people, I'm some glad my conversion started here in NL, I've had virtually no issues from the regulatory agencies thus far. My only speed bump left is to pass the safety so I can activate my plate (already on the vehicle but will now annual tag). But the vehicle is already registered as a motorhome.
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