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Old 11-22-2017, 06:04 PM   #1
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south florida newbie looking for tips

HELLOOOO fellow skoolies
Im very interested in buying a small or mid sized bus under $4,000 to convert into a film studio. I am a journalist and I need the bus to function as a studio/office. I dont need any plumbing but i will be needing electricity. im just wondering how i can find out more about Florida laws concerning conversions? Can i park it at my apartment and also do the construction there? What do i register it as? Im a bit overwhelmed guys can you please help me out. I'd like to find this info out so i can be prepared before purchasing.
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Old 11-22-2017, 07:13 PM   #2
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I can't speak for Florida but for you I would give the FLO members on here some time(not very long ) to catch up? Quite a few in Florida and quite a few registered there and on the road.
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Old 11-22-2017, 08:59 PM   #3
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HELLOOOO fellow skoolies
Im very interested in buying a small or mid sized bus under $4,000 to convert into a film studio. I am a journalist and I need the bus to function as a studio/office. I dont need any plumbing but i will be needing electricity. im just wondering how i can find out more about Florida laws concerning conversions? Can i park it at my apartment and also do the construction there? What do i register it as? Im a bit overwhelmed guys can you please help me out. I'd like to find this info out so i can be prepared before purchasing.
IDK if you can park it at your apartment, you'll have to ask the apartment owner/manager. I doubt it, though. Do people park buses or semi's there?
FL doesn't really have "laws" about conversions, other than signing an affidavit converting to an RV. But a mobile studio will be a commercial thing.
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Old 11-22-2017, 09:28 PM   #4
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IDK if you can park it at your apartment, you'll have to ask the apartment owner/manager. I doubt it, though. Do people park buses or semi's there?
FL doesn't really have "laws" about conversions, other than signing an affidavit converting to an RV. But a mobile studio will be a commercial thing.
It could be a personal studio. Mine would be, were I building one
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Old 11-22-2017, 09:48 PM   #5
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It could be a personal studio. Mine would be, were I building one
Commercial for personal use.
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Old 11-22-2017, 09:53 PM   #6
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As long as you sign an affidavit stating your bus either has 120 volt electricity, plumbing, and I can't remember the third. You can change the title. I would also make sure you you have a copy of Florida form TL 13 to help them realize what you are doing is allowed
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Old 11-26-2017, 03:59 PM   #7
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Thank you for all of your help, But what is the first step i need to take after purchasing the bus? and where exactly do most of you park the bus for conversion work?
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Old 11-26-2017, 04:00 PM   #8
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Commercial for personal use.
So I have to register it as a commercial vehicle not an RV?
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Old 11-26-2017, 04:14 PM   #9
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So I have to register it as a commercial vehicle not an RV?
"Commercial for personal use" is how you would insure a bus that is still titled as a bus. You can keep it that way throughout the conversion if you like, and get the Title changed to "RV" or "MH" when you are done.

Then you would insure it as an RV.
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Old 11-26-2017, 04:41 PM   #10
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So I have to register it as a commercial vehicle not an RV?
No register it as a private bus till its converted or you'll be without ins.
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Old 11-26-2017, 04:43 PM   #11
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Thank you for all of your help, But what is the first step i need to take after purchasing the bus? and where exactly do most of you park the bus for conversion work?
Not many of us in miami. I think you'll have a hell of a time finding anywhere to park it in that area. Start asking friends with land, buy some land, or maybe pay for storage. But if you store it make sure they allow work to be done. A lot of places don't allow you to work on vehicles.
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Old 11-26-2017, 04:49 PM   #12
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Some of us simply register as a van if you don't require all that seating that makes it a bus. If you're not planning to install various tanks, a sink and other items that make a bus qualify as a motorhome the possibilities are endless.

Think of it as a huge conversion van. You can even put shag carpeting on the ceiling if you're so inclined. You can insulate and have a generator without crossing the line into motorhome territory.

I have standard plates like any car, truck or van on my 26' FE BB. I carry a generator, barrel of water, file cabinets and whatever I need, but everything can be removed as in a van.

And yes, a "commercial policy for private use" is a standard way to insure a repurposed bus if it's not a motorhome.
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Old 11-26-2017, 04:55 PM   #13
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Some of us simply register as a van if you don't require all that seating that makes it a bus. If you're not planning to install various tanks, a sink and other items that make a bus qualify as a motorhome the possibilities are endless.

Think of it as a huge conversion van. You can even put shag carpeting on the ceiling if you're so inclined. You can insulate and have a generator without crossing the line into motorhome territory.

I have standard plates like any car, truck or van on my 26' FE BB. I carry a generator, barrel of water, file cabinets and whatever I need, but everything can be removed as in a van.

And yes, a "commercial policy for private use" is a standard way to insure a repurposed bus if it's not a motorhome.
They don't do the "van" thing in FL. Its either a BU or a MH.
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Old 11-26-2017, 05:01 PM   #14
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Let's try to clear this up:

"Bus" is on the Title. It doesn't say "Commercial Bus" or "Commercial Vehicle", it just says Bus.

Whether it is "commercial" depends not on how it is titled, but on how it is used. If you use it to take kids to school, or parishoners to Church, it needs a DOT # and you need a CDL with P and S endorsements.

If it has most of the seats removed, and you are using it purely for personal use, it doesn't need either, your current drivers license (with caveats) is fine.

However, if the GVW is over 26000 lbs, it is generally considered to be "commercial" by insurers, but you can insure a commercial vehicle for personal use, and the bus rates are reasonable.

So .... Insure it as a "Commercial Bus for Personal Use" for the drive home and as long as you want it that way. Take out the seats so there is no confusion about the number of passengers you can carry (keep it under 14).

When you have met your state requirements for a Motorhome or Recreational Vehicle, take it to the Tag Office and get the title changed. They will probably want to see the VIN if the bus came from out-of-state, and may have other requirements.

At that point insure it as an RV.

Your regular Drivers License will be fine, but if it has air-brakes some states will require an endorsement. Some states will also require you to take another driving test depending on weight. That is because they put the heavier motorhomes in a different Class. They will call it "Non-commercial Class A or B".
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Old 11-26-2017, 05:48 PM   #15
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Mr Twig: The OP is making a film studio, not a motorhome. Commercial for private use is an insurance terminology and has nothing to do with the title.

My title specifically says "van." Perhaps that is because this was a "special needs van" even though it is a '97 FE Bluebird TC1000. They called it a van because this bus never had numerous seats. As you've clearly indicated a certain number of seats mandates a vehicle as a bus. This "van" was prouduced from the manufacturer with three passenger seats. However the VIN# does indicate this was a bus.

What shocks me are the states that register these vehicles as a "station wagon" or "housecar."
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Old 11-26-2017, 06:01 PM   #16
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Mr Twig: The OP is making a film studio, not a motorhome. Commercial for private use is an insurance terminology and has nothing to do with the title.

My title specifically says "van." Perhaps that is because this was a "special needs van" even though it is a '97 FE Bluebird TC1000. They called it a van because this bus never had numerous seats. As you've clearly indicated a certain number of seats mandates a vehicle as a bus. This "van" was prouduced from the manufacturer with three passenger seats. However the VIN# does indicate this was a bus.

What shocks me are the states that register these vehicles as a "station wagon" or "housecar."
I think I was clear about the "commercial for private use" phrase.

"Van" would work if it's appropriate. It will depend on Tag Office and what they will accept. But if it looks like a van, has no kitchen, bathroom or bed, it will probably fly. I'm thinking that as long as there is no bed it would work.

There will stiil be the issue of persuading an insurance company what it is, especially if running the VIN shows up "Bus".

Either way, the OP really needs to avoid it being considered "commercial", and while this forum likes to be pedantic about that term, if I were doing this it would be a private studio for personal use. As long as it isn't delivering goods, or being visited all the time by clients, that would probably work as the OP is simply carrying the tools of his own trade, just like we all do in trucks and cars
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Old 11-26-2017, 06:02 PM   #17
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I REALLY doubt FL will title it as a van. I'd bet money on it.
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Old 11-26-2017, 07:04 PM   #18
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Mine was originally titled in Florida as "VC" Van Conversion - I changed it to "MH" Motorhome after I finished converting it.
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Old 11-26-2017, 07:32 PM   #19
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The van issue in FL seems to be a moot point.

Here in Oregon I've been legit for two years now, and that's being perfectly honest with the DMV and insurers. I do have a bed, because conversion vans have beds. Here the DMV wants a sink, cooking station and some type of toilet to be considered a motorhome. No mention of a bed.

You gotta know I'm looking for loopholes, but I stay clear of the specific items required to get a motorhome license plate here. My interior items can all be put on a dolly and moved out, including my 55 gallon water barrel. No mounted tanks and no plumbing. I'd keep my water tank inside regardless to prevent freezing. I go with the "living in a van down by the river" theory, except I'm on a mountain.

If there's only two licensing categories for a bus in FL, then take what works best for your situation. It just seems like a waste to qualify the OP's bus as a motorhome if that's not what it will be used for.

Here I could also license mine as a truck. Housecar might be more accurate for me, but this state does not have that designation for vehicles.

So, in FL what do they call a bus without seats? It's not reasonable for hauling people commercially or otherwise.

I'm going for a "convertible" classification on my next bus.
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Old 11-26-2017, 08:28 PM   #20
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Mine was originally titled in Florida as "VC" Van Conversion - I changed it to "MH" Motorhome after I finished converting it.
Oh man, I'd have totally left that!!!
I wonder how the hell one goes about doing that. Is that what the dealer had it titled as?
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