Originally Posted by M1031A1
Just to help give you guys an idea of what it takes to develop and build a skoolie, my wife and I have taken the better part of six YEARS to get as far as we have gotten with our build. We bought our first bus for $500 from San Antonio, TX, made a BUNCH of errors, learned from them, then searched for three years after buying that bus to find the one we have now, and built up a budget of $23K to get the bus built correctly, safely, and mostly by ourselves - when I say by ourselves I actually mean by me. This is not for the faint of heart. Understanding how to build a home, or, in my case, an apartment complex when I was a teenager, is very advantageous. Going to some of the big-box home retailer workshops is also very helpful in learning some basic home repair and build skills.
I'm always reminding people to first do their research BEFORE spending a penny on something as life changing as this. Look at the older builds and see what people have come across for problems and how they solved those problems, for good or worse, and learn from them (including some of my bone-headed moves).
If you look at my build thread you will see how we have taken our time deliberately to make sure our build comes out how we want it and using as little money to get the job done the way we want it. We're still evolving as we are building. Small changes here and there can make big impacts down the line as we continue our build.
We're up to our eyeballs in debt as well. The bus will be our permanent home once we're to the move-in stage. We already have land lined up for full-timing which gives us a certain advantage most other people may not have available.
1. Have a piece of land or location already chosen to park/build for your bus.
2. Research the type of bus that fits your family needs. For example, we chose a Thomas Saf-T-Liner 84 passenger rear engine bus with cargo bays, a 643 transmission, and a Cat 3208 engine to give us the largest construction/living area possible, the drivetrain we wanted (yes, I know many people don't like Cats, but I've owned several and LOVED them), the storage capacity we need, and the type of vehicle I enjoy driving.
3. DON'T be afraid to look outside your area to find a great deal. We looked in Texas (where we live), and all over the south and west to find our bus. Finally found an on-line auction in California, called the shop foreman to talk about the bus, went to several skoolie sites to find out the reputation of the school district's surplus buses and if they sold good buses or junkers, bought the bus, flew out to CA, and drove her home. See my thread "Heavy Fuel" for more details.
4. Plan out the floor plan that fits your family needs. Everybody's idea of what they need is as individual as each build here. It's your bus, have fun with it!
Hope these pointers help you find the bus you're looking for and the build you're looking to take on! Get your family involved, especially the kids, and create a lifetime of memories!
Best of wishes,