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Old 04-07-2017, 03:50 AM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 21
Looking at the possibility of converting a bus to a tiny home.

My girlfriend and I have been looking into tiny home options for about a year now. We've finally decided that a bus might be right for us. We also considered a yurt, a dry van, and just building a tiny home on a trailer bed.

We feel a bus might be our best option because: It's got wheels, buses themselves can be relatively inexpensive, and if we did it right it would be well insulated.

Right now we're trying to come up with an estimate for the total cost of the bus and conversion. To keep costs lower we would utilize free or cheap items as much as possible. My girlfriends brother works in a junk yard and we have access to a lot of old buses and RV's to take things from, we have to pay, but they won't charge us much.

I don't know how to weld or any thing so I'll be paying friends to do a lot of that for me.

If we utilize free/cheap resources can we complete a decent build for less than $10,000? We'll be staying on my girlfriends moms property with RV hookups so we won't need solar panels or any thing(though we plan on adding them as we can afford to).

Thanks for the awesome forum guys! I love checking out cool builds!

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Old 04-07-2017, 08:21 AM   #2
jonnichols's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Columbus, OH
Posts: 37
Welcome aboard!
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Old 04-07-2017, 10:05 AM   #3
Bus Geek
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Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Willamina, Oregon
Posts: 6,409
Coachwork: 97 Bluebird TC1000 5.9
Many of us do a minimalistic build for varying reasons. I have a medium size bus and my actual investment is about $6k so far. I got a good deal on this bus for about $2,500, put a set of new tires on it for $2,600, stripped out the interior and put in foam insulation for $800. I'm sure I've got about five hundred dollars worth of plywood and rigid insulation for my interior. Soon I'm going for my $100 paint job if it quits raining for long enough.

How much you spend on nice stuff for your bus is obviously up to you. There are a significant amount of free and cheap items that can be used in a bus. It is possible to use regular furniture in your bus but you'll get tired of strapping everything down each time you want to drive anywhere. So I'd say yeah you can build a bus for $10k or less. Most of us minimalists don't do the plumbing, using a composting toilet and/or public restrooms.

There are also varying reasons why some of us are minimalists. In my state I'm unable to insure a self built bus to motorhome conversion. I can however insure my bus as a "van". So I can do all the things people do with a regular size van. I just have to avoid the things that would qualify my van as a motorhome, like plumbing, mounted propane tanks, mounted water and sewer, electrical system, etc.

Some people say that us minimalists are just camping in a bus. I'd rather camp in a bus than to camp in a tent anyday. I may be the strange one because I'm boondocking in my own driveway on the grid with cable and internet. I live in the mountains anyway so I've got a great view out of all the windows.

You'll get lots of ideas here that can help you make an inexpensive build.
Welcome and good luck.
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Old 04-07-2017, 10:49 AM   #4
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Picton,Ont, Can.
Posts: 1,956
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: GMC
Engine: Cat 3116
Rated Cap: 72
Hi. if you guys can learn to do a lot of the labor related construction and maintenance you will save a lot of money. Tradesman will cost you a lot if you have to depend on that route and the complexity of the build.
Parts are more expensive for the most part than a regular vehicle too so don't be shocked when you buy filters, oil, etc.
Really hard to put a ballpark figure on any of it as no two buses are built the same imho. It can be done as expensively as you like or as inexpensive as your budget allows.
Question everything!
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Old 04-08-2017, 05:13 AM   #5
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 21
Hey thanks for the replies guys. The plan right now is to save up for a bus while collecting stuff to put in it. I'll be checking out the rv's at the junkyard soon to see how much I can pull out and utilize. We'll be doing most of the labor ourselves to save money.

We do plan on using a composting toilet. I'd like to add fresh and gray water tanks with plumping for the bathroom sink, kitchen sink, and shower. With that being said, I probably won't install all of that right away. I'll just set it up so instillation will be really easy when we can afford to do it well.

We can shower and cook in the house for now so we don't have to complete the build in a hurry. I'd like to install a wood stove for the winter too. My local antique store has some cool older stoves for a really good price but I don't know if they'd be safe to use at their age.
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