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Old 09-25-2016, 02:00 PM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 1
Average cost?

Hello I'm a new member here and very interested in converting a school bus I'm curious to know if any one out there has tracked the expenses of their conversions. ( including the price for the bus) i know it's tough question to answer given all the different options that can go into a conversion, but I'm just wondering about a rough ballpark figure for a basic conversion.
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Old 09-25-2016, 02:15 PM   #2
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 2,360
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
I bought mine for $5,000, hope to not go over $5,000 to convert. It's highly doubtful I will, as in repurposing an enormous amount of stuff.

Craigslist has been very kind to me!
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Old 09-25-2016, 02:52 PM   #3
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 896
Chassis: GMC or Chevrolet, I hope
Engine: gasser probably
I decided to buy something between 2-3k. Paid 2.3k at an online auction for mine. Will try to keep it under 5k build.

Im building a camper not an RV. So it will be cheap.

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Old 09-25-2016, 02:58 PM   #4
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Birmingham Al
Posts: 577
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Fully livable and comfortable Redneck Conversion:

Bus = $3,000
= $300
Electrical(switched AC/DC)
Cooling (no AC, simple, roof-mounted Fantastic Fan)
= $270
Heating (simple, portable Buddy Heater)
= $200
Walls, counter, sink, stove, shower/tub/toilet, bed, etc.
Custom Paint job
Entry level (200watts)
= $600
Awesome level (600 watts, 2 batteries, awesome controller)
= +$1100

If my math is right, less than $7k before repairs?

my conversion beginnings here:
My Skoolie Story on YouTube
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Old 09-25-2016, 06:39 PM   #5
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Oberlin, Kansas
Posts: 1,390
Year: 1989
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner ER
Engine: 3208 CAT/MT643 tranny
Rated Cap: 87
Bus - $2K
Window blanks (custom made) - $1200
Genset - $650
A/C unit - $500
Fridge - $750
Washer - $600
Dryer - $600
rewire - $650
New Tires - $2500
New Captains Chairs - $40
Chest Freezer - $150
New passenger side mirror set up - $200
Paint to prevent rusting - $60
New Heater Hose to re-route below floor boards - $180
New 50 amp connection cable - $100
Webasto Heater - $2500
I'm sure there's more............

So we have at least $13K or so in Heavy Fuel and the building is just beginning. We have insulation, 2X4s, T&G flooring/wall/ceiling electrical outlets, plumbing, 12v pumps, and some other things to get as we start to build.

I figure that plus a nice paint job will put us between $20K to $25K when we're done. But when we're done she'll be one classy lady!

Now mind you, we're looking to full-time with her, no weekends or campouts and then go back home because she is our home.

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Old 09-25-2016, 09:40 PM   #6
Bus Nut
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Utah
Posts: 266
Year: 1990
Coachwork: BB
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins
Rated Cap: 25.999K
I paid 2500 for my bus, and I bet I will only be into the 'conversion' another 1500 or so. Mind you, this is a steel tent, nothing fancy. Something that hauls the bikes, has a basic kitchen, heat, water, and a place to sleep....
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Old 10-02-2016, 03:54 PM   #7
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: chicago, il
Posts: 220
Year: 2003
Chassis: IC CE
Engine: T444
i spend 4k out the door for a 30 ft bus, if you are asking the conversion cost...well that all depends on you. you can spend as little as the price of the bus and look to get everything for free, which will take a long time or you could go crazy and in excess and easily spend 50k. For me im looking at about 15k without any re-purposing but not top of the line anything.
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Old 10-02-2016, 05:18 PM   #8
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Music City USA
Posts: 737
Year: 2005
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner
Engine: Detroit MBE906
Rated Cap: 72
I have a couple I'm looking at.... the 2005 Thomas I have listed in my profile is $7500, or I'm also looking at a 2004 International CE that's $4800. I've budgeted around $12k for everything to get it minimally useable for fulltiming, with the rest coming in as I can afford it.
My bus - Jasmine - External Build Website - YouTube Channel - TN/KY Meetup Group
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Old 06-24-2017, 02:59 AM   #9
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Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: So Ill
Posts: 225
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner
Hope you don't mind me chiming in on an old thread. I'm currently trying to sell my car and apparently no one around here can afford a fair price, so I've started offering deal price, just now, and I've been looking at my budget and wondering how much wiggle room I really have, and it might be more than I was giving, but mostly because everyone has a "double your budget" motto here, and I tried to allow for that wisdom, but I may have to just deal with slowing down a bit but starting sooner at the same time. prolly a better deal.

I'm hoping to spend 2-3k on the bus itself, up to 2k on insulation and interior, (which accounts for 2 DIY spray foam kits on ebay, recommended here, by SuperDave?, and some rigid foam after that, as well as ceiling panels. I've gotten a cheap bit of floor for free recently, so I'll use that until I can upgrade later.) up to 2k on plumbing, which might be less if I can find something cheaper than what I was accounting for. So:

2-3k - bus
2k - insulation and interior
2k - plumbing
for top total of 7k.

This doesn't yet account for the electrical system I hoped to start with, but I've decided to start with shore power and work my way up. Wire the sockets and stuff first, shore power, add solar panels, battery bank, inverter/converter, charge controller, ect. later. Important to do this right.

The rest I can probably make fine do with cheap and plundered parts. I've already got 3 kitchen sinks to choose from, but no bathroom sink unfortunately. Hmm, do we have a thread where people can offer trades on stuff here? I'll go check. Anyway, there's the budget I'm working with to start on. I initially was allowing for up to 12k but LOL guess not.
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Old 06-24-2017, 05:36 AM   #10
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Oregon/Philippines
Posts: 1,660
By careful scrounging I built my last two busses (both RE) for around 6k in parts, with the initial cost around 3 k for each bus. Thomas was 2800, transit w/ detroit I traded a 2k jeep for it.

This does not count the 100 trips or so to the hardware, ads in craigslist for people parting out trailers, trips to habitat for humanity thrift store, automotive swap meets like the portland, salem, canby etc, and so forth. Therefore, If one is to consider costs one also has to consider all the side trips and the vast amount of time to get what you need if you dont wish to spend the 20k for new stuff.
Jesus Christ... Conversion in progress.
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