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Old 04-06-2021, 12:31 PM   #1
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New to the forum, but wanting to give things a try...

Hello all! Allow me to make an overly-long introduction.

I've been watching videos on Skoolie conversions for some time now and I've found it fascinating... to the point now where I think I want to work toward buying one.

So here's my situation.

I'm a college administrator who is basically starting over after a divorce. I live in the DFW area and while I love it here, the cost of living is a bit much once you factor in child support. (Not a complaint, just the reality of the situation).

Add to that the housing market is insane and well... it's tough to get ahead. I know that goes in cycles.

As it stands, I am getting by. I pay my bills and live pretty modestly but short of a career change I'm likely not going to get ahead unless I change the dynamic somehow...

Anyway, in addition to my job I also do some doordash driving on the side. It provides the occasional beer money and has paid for some small adventures... float/camping trips, small vacations with the kids... things like that.

What I've decided to do is do a little bit of extra doordashing and start socking that money away for the initial purchase of a bus. I figure the time it takes me to save up the money I need will give me some more time to do some due diligence on exactly what I *want* and what I *need* when the time comes to take the plunge.

As I've done some preliminary research, here are some things I *want*...

Probably a full-size bus. I want enough to be able to fit a bed (queen or larger) along with some built-in bunk beds for my kids when they're with me on an adventure and still have some living space. I feel like a rear-engine flat nose bus with storage bays would be ideal... but is that something that's going to significantly increase my initial cost?

It seems like it would make more sense to forego a black water tank and go with a composting toilet when I do the build... that would give more space for gray water storage.

What do I need to consider regarding fresh water storage? Size? Weight? All of the above?

Obviously I'm a little bit away from getting started but trying to make sense of the task that's ahead of me is paramount right now.

What advice would you give someone who is considering taking the plunge?
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Old 04-06-2021, 05:15 PM   #2
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I'm not convinced any of the buses we should want should cost more than $5k. Size doesn't seem to matter as some of the shorties people will pay a premium for. I paid $3500 for a 99 International with 250k on it, it is an excellant bus. Start thinking of everything you might use in it and start creating floor plans to decide exactly how big of a bus you will need. Read everything you can on this forum. Welcome to the addiction.
Many run into issues of not having a place to work on a bus after they buy it, serious issue.
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Old 04-06-2021, 06:40 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptsmith109 View Post
As it stands, I am getting by. I pay my bills and live pretty modestly but short of a career change I'm likely not going to get ahead unless I change the dynamic somehow...
This seems similar to our motivations. A lot of people look for ways of cutting their costs, but usually there are "sacred cows" in the equation (like the mortgage/rent) that are just "given" costs with no alternative- I instead asked the question how would I eliminate my top 5 most expensive bills and eventually ended up with a skoolie. Changing the "dynamic" or fundamental assumptions was the only way to do it.



Quote:
Originally Posted by ptsmith109 View Post
Probably a full-size bus. I want enough to be able to fit a bed (queen or larger) along with some built-in bunk beds for my kids when they're with me on an adventure and still have some living space. I feel like a rear-engine flat nose bus with storage bays would be ideal... but is that something that's going to significantly increase my initial cost?
Unlikely. Like o1marc mentioned most buses' fair cost is right around $5k, or at least it was when I pulled the trigger. Short or large. However, the associated upkeep does go up. Especially if you want to remain mobile you will need to be 100% on top of the mechanicals.





Quote:
Originally Posted by ptsmith109 View Post
It seems like it would make more sense to forego a black water tank and go with a composting toilet when I do the build... that would give more space for gray water storage.
Let me just preface: Lots of people in RVs/buses/etc use composting toilets successfully. That being said, I started with a composter, ended up with a flusher, would never go back.



If your "gray" water includes stuff from the sink (food particles, etc), it is going to reek like heck, you're not going to be able to just pour that stuff on the ground. It will need to go to a dump station, and if you're going there anyway, you might as well kill two birds with one stone. I have two gray tanks, 45 gallons each, and a 40 gallon black tank. I could fit anywhere from 3 to 5 more similarly sized tanks under the bus, no problem. Full size buses will have places for tanks.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ptsmith109 View Post
What do I need to consider regarding fresh water storage? Size? Weight? All of the above?
Loosely, I would suggest your gray capacity to at minimum be more than your fresh, and your black should you choose to have a black tank be half or more your fresh capacity. I wanted 100 gallons, ended up with 78. We dry camp by default (we fill fresh tanks when they are empty, we don't really just "hook up" and stay connected to city water) and we get 4-6 days out of it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ptsmith109 View Post
Obviously I'm a little bit away from getting started but trying to make sense of the task that's ahead of me is paramount right now.

What advice would you give someone who is considering taking the plunge?
We live in a 37' skoolie we built ourselves and I'm $40k or more in at this point, $4k for the bus, $2k delivery, $4k to have a section of driveway paved to park it (yeah, these are big) and it took 3 years, although now that I know what I'm doing I could bang one out in 6 months or so. Do you know where/how you'll work on one?


Another user might suggest you look at RVs, I'd say take that seriously- see what you can get because it would be relatively turn-key. We bought a 5th wheel to rescue a relative from homelessness for around $15k and it had all of the basic infrastructure, although most of it obviously much, much less capable. Not to dissuade you from a conversion- just consider the option.
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Old 04-07-2021, 06:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptsmith109 View Post
What advice would you give someone who is considering taking the plunge?

First, welcome to Skoolie.net, great advice and learning abound here, you just have to ask and /or dig for the info you need. Lots of great folks with tons of experience building skoolies.



Research, read and make a plan. Watch conversion videos and figure out what's going to work for you. You're going to have lots of down time to "dream", use it to work on things like your layout in SketchUp, logistics, material lists, etc. Anything to keep the build moving forward in your mind. I'm a weekend warrior, my bus is 35 miles from where I live. I'm learning, keeping the build moving takes planning when you only have a couple of days to work per week.
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