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View Poll Results: Should I start a roof raise business?
Yes, that could be successful (or, yes, I'd buy one) 4 33.33%
No, that wouldn't be successful (or, no, I wouldn't buy one) 6 50.00%
My opinion falls outside these options. 2 16.67%
Voters: 12. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 02-25-2022, 10:31 PM   #1
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Smile Roof Raise Business...?

DISCLAIMER: first post, sorry if in wrong thread.

Should I start a roof raise business?

Would you, as a person looking for a bus to convert, prefer to raise the roof yourself, or would you prefer to buy a pre-raised bus?

How much would you be willing to pay, for such? For example: two busses available; both are 40ft, dog-nose, 2000 Thomas builts, with similar mileage, both have complete service records and recent engine overhauls. One is a stock bus, seats in place; the other has had the seats and insulation removed, the roof raised by 16-24 inches, and sheet metal over where the windows used to be (allowing you to cut your own windows). If the first one is worth $10k (or any arbitrary value), how much is the second worth?

In my head, I'd offer two different services:
A) pre-raised busses, for sale. These would be busses that I have personally bought, raised the roof myself by a given height, then posted on ebay/craigslist/here/elsewhere, for sale. I'd deliver anywhere in the continental US, and Canada.
B) Custom roof raises, in which I take my own bus to your property, raise your roof with my own equipment, and make sure that you're satisfied with my work.

Context: I've raised 4 school bus roofs, all for good friends, and all for "pizza and beer", essentially. I've been a welder and fabricator for ten years, and the entire process was really rather straightforward; but I can understand why some people might not want to do it themselves, and I couldn't find many people offering roof raises as a service, though there were some.

TL;DR: Should I start a roof raise business?

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Old 02-25-2022, 10:58 PM   #2
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Hi, Corl. Welcome to skoolie.net. Great to have new members. Tell us a little about yourself.
Where part of the world are you located? What type of bus do you have? Please add some roof raise pictures to your albulm.

*As far a the question of a business, raising the roofs of retired school buses? Would that the only product of the business?(maybe demo, solar, mechanicals) Also, the "who" asking the question. Does the representative have a market audience who are focusesd on similar product lines? ie. The Rock can easily sell fitness equiptment. Similarly, ECCB or RossvTaylor have a roof raise customer base. I'm not savy of your handle, how are your YouTube videos of roof raises? It may be just your thing. Seems like many have to wait months.
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Old 02-25-2022, 11:27 PM   #3
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I know this might sound a bit odd...but a roof raised bus won't normally sell for as much as it will cost to buy the bus and do the raise...assuming you're charging what you really need to for a business. For example, if you buy a 40-foot bus for $7-8000 and then spend $8000 on the roof raise you'd think you have a $15-16k bus...but I think that would be a hard sell. The actual materials for that roof raise, done really right, will probably be about $3000-3500. So, if you don't charge for your labor (which won't be sustainable) you've still got a $10K+ bus to sell...and you haven't made a dime.

There seems to be a big psychological component here. People seem more willing to spend the money on raising the roof for a bus they already own and have bonded with. Once they own the bus, then they move on to the "make it our own" phase. But during the "shop for a bus" phase it seems low cost is a key factor...which makes the pre-raised bus price seem less competitive, even if it's cheaper in the long run.

I'm making sweeping generalizations here...so take this with a big grain of salt...like a salt lamp sized chunk of salt, maybe. But having done 8+ roof raises thus far, with a couple scheduled on deck, I've got a bit of experience in this...and this is my perspective for lots of buyers. So, I think the pre-raised bus option would involve more risk for you.
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Old 02-25-2022, 11:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rossvtaylor View Post
I know this might sound a bit odd...but a roof raised bus won't normally sell for as much as it will cost to buy the bus and do the raise...assuming you're charging what you really need to for a business. For example, if you buy a 40-foot bus for $7-8000 and then spend $8000 on the roof raise you'd think you have a $15-16k bus...but I think that would be a hard sell. The actual materials for that roof raise, done really right, will probably be about $3000-3500. So, if you don't charge for your labor (which won't be sustainable) you've still got a $10K+ bus to sell...and you haven't made a dime.

There seems to be a big psychological component here. People seem more willing to spend the money on raising the roof for a bus they already own and have bonded with. Once they own the bus, then they move on to the "make it our own" phase. But during the "shop for a bus" phase it seems low cost is a key factor...which makes the pre-raised bus price seem less competitive, even if it's cheaper in the long run.

I'm making sweeping generalizations here...so take this with a big grain of salt...like a salt lamp sized chunk of salt, maybe. But having done 8+ roof raises thus far, with a couple scheduled on deck, I've got a bit of experience in this...and this is my perspective for lots of buyers. So, I think the pre-raised bus option would involve more risk for you.
Great job of articulating that emotional investment feeling.
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Old 02-25-2022, 11:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rossvtaylor View Post
There seems to be a big psychological component here. People seem more willing to spend the money on raising the roof for a bus they already own and have bonded with. Once they own the bus, then they move on to the "make it our own" phase. But during the "shop for a bus" phase it seems low cost is a key factor...which makes the pre-raised bus price seem less competitive, even if it's cheaper in the long run.
Seems like you hit on something I've not even thought about; good point. I'd like to know a little bit more about your experiences, if you're willing to share.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeMac View Post
As far a the question of a business, raising the roofs of retired school buses? Would that the only product of the business?(maybe demo, solar, mechanicals) Also, the "who" asking the question. Does the representative have a market audience who are focusesd on similar product lines? ie. The Rock can easily sell fitness equiptment. Similarly, ECCB or RossvTaylor have a roof raise customer base. I'm not savy of your handle, how are your YouTube videos of roof raises? It may be just your thing. Seems like many have to wait months.
I have zero social media marketing presence; that's another thing I'll need to consider.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeMac View Post
Tell us a little about yourself.
Where part of the world are you located? What type of bus do you have? Please add some roof raise pictures to your albulm.
Howdy! My name's Corl; did my honorable in the AF, currently living in NC, USA. I have a 1995 International 3800, that I'm currently converting. It was actually my very first roof raise, about 3yrs ago; I know, I know, it's taken a long time, but that's what I get for starting a project before a pandemic. Will add pics tomorrow, when the sun comes back.
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Old 02-25-2022, 11:59 PM   #6
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And btw, thank you both for replying =D
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Old 02-26-2022, 01:39 AM   #7
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Welcome to the fray Corl.
I see a lot of requests for roof raises on Facebook. I don't know if you could make a business out of it but you could certainly pick up work if you were mobile...welder, generator tools, etc..
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Old 02-26-2022, 08:44 AM   #8
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the p[roduct should be you raised tjhe roof *AND* secured them insurance for their raised roof bus..


there used to be a home builder here in ohio that would buil the shell, roof it, wire it, plumb it, window it, sheeth it and then it was yours.. siding was optional.. it allowed people to do their own interior work but the hard stuff was done..



maybe a package offers a bus thats been gone through mechanically, roof is raised, floor is removed and prepped with ospho.. owner could choose to have wiring rough in.. rack for solar panels, and spray foamed if desired?



seems a lot of the questions we get here revolve around whether a bus is mechanically sound as many people have zero knowledge of the drivetrain..



but its going to easily exceed 10k and thats a huge turnoff to people.. alot of people seem to have the illusion they can be broke-ass buy a $1000 bus, travel the country and live happily ever after on $200 a month..



then again BGA stays in business selling busses at a premium.. they go through them mechanically to make sure they are sound but dont do much rust repair and often have worn out tires.. of course being in tampa alot of their busses go on a boat to exporters..
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Old 02-26-2022, 08:50 AM   #9
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Old 02-26-2022, 11:24 AM   #10
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.[QUOTE.* alot of people seem to have the illusion they can be broke-ass buy a $1000 bus, travel the country and live happily ever after on $200 a month.. [/QUOTE]

...and if you question it, you're just a hater.
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Old 02-26-2022, 12:42 PM   #11
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I'm leaning the direction DeMac & others here appear to be...

A fabricator who does all kinds of work on buses/vans/etc, including roof raises, would make sense to me. Just roof raises... I don't know if that would work, or be enough work, to justify the effort. But disclaimer: I'm far from anything close to a businessman!

I'd also be (perhaps unnecessarily) concerned with potential liability issues.
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Old 02-26-2022, 05:33 PM   #12
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You need to work through the steps of a Business Plan even if you have no intention of ever presenting it to anyone (for a business loan or to get business insurance as examples). The reason being, you need to know what THE TOTAL MARKET and what MARKET SHARE you think you can pull from that total market along with a whole lot of other things you will learn as you do the research.....don't forget INSURANCE and LEGAL CONSULTATION costs because one disgruntled customer can destroy you unless you're protected from judgement.

Part of your research will include what the COMPETITION is charging, how much you will have to charge, and whether the market will bear that cost.
I suspect you're going to find that there is a large market of INTERESTED customers until they learn of the cost and that the then market suddenly shrinks......STICKER SHOCK.
As has been said by others, providing a bus that you've purchased and lifted is likely to have that same sticker shock issue. However, there is the added issue that you're business reputation could be damaged if one or more rigs, even if through total incompetence and lack of maintenance of the buyer, has a breakdown resulting in major expense....or even just major to the customer. Far better to offer services to a rig that someone owns and brings to you.....at least as you're getting started. This also reduces your start up costs.
Can you "wing it"? Sure, lot's of fly by night operations do that as well and you'll find yourself automatically lumped in with the shade tree guys unless you have business name, license, insurance, etc. OR a lot of credibility from YouTube vids of your work or documented work that's related.
Just my not so humble opinion, YMMV.


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Old 02-27-2022, 12:52 AM   #13
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Taking buses already owned, also truck / van etc

and being able to handle any & all aspects of the conversion process

would I think be the basis of a very good business.

A regional one, where the owners bring the bus to you.

Ideally establishing yourself as a recognised professional outfit, guaranteeing your work, conforming as to legalities, E&O liability insurances

which will then make life easier for your customers getting their vehicles registered and insured under RV exemptions.

All these factors will allow you to "skim the cream" of the market, only deal with customers ready to spend many tens of thousands for the full boat treatment

or at least $300/hr for spot jobs.

Locate within a couple hours of the highest COL urban areas especially where young IG-obsessed high-tech workers are concentrated

and get big enough fast to really PR the **** out of influencers on social media, TikTok YT etc
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Old 02-28-2022, 12:09 AM   #14
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The rest of the commenters are correct. Roof raising is way too narrow a focus, with way too small a potential customer base, especially when you consider that you'll have almost no repeat business. Once a roof is raised, it's raised, and you can't count on a lot of people buying a second bus. A general contractor that can handle all aspects of the job would be more successful. So far as regional goes, that too is a good idea provided that region is Nevada. This would put you close enough for Californians to use you, without actually being under California's business laws. And I'd make them bring the bus to you. The way California's government is, there's no telling what they'll try to do if you do anything on their side of the border. They might tax you for working there, then fine you for owing taxes as a nonresident, then charge you tax on the fine.

The rest of you commented, but I'm the only one that voted?
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Old 02-28-2022, 09:48 AM   #15
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There wasn't an option to vote when I commented, Veloc. Or I never noticed it. Probably 50/50 chance either way
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Old 03-02-2022, 05:00 PM   #16
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I'm inclined to agree that a pre raised bus would be a lot of work and money invested on an unknown customer. I would accumulate a few different size busses and advertise them for sale with or without a raise roof and build to customer specs and I would also advertise that I will either pick up a customer bus and raise the spec at my property or build on customer property. Too many variations to prebuilt something like this
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Old 03-02-2022, 05:52 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corl View Post
DISCLAIMER: first post, sorry if in wrong thread.

Should I start a roof raise business?

Would you, as a person looking for a bus to convert, prefer to raise the roof yourself, or would you prefer to buy a pre-raised bus?

How much would you be willing to pay, for such? For example: two busses available; both are 40ft, dog-nose, 2000 Thomas builts, with similar mileage, both have complete service records and recent engine overhauls. One is a stock bus, seats in place; the other has had the seats and insulation removed, the roof raised by 16-24 inches, and sheet metal over where the windows used to be (allowing you to cut your own windows). If the first one is worth $10k (or any arbitrary value), how much is the second worth?

In my head, I'd offer two different services:
A) pre-raised busses, for sale. These would be busses that I have personally bought, raised the roof myself by a given height, then posted on ebay/craigslist/here/elsewhere, for sale. I'd deliver anywhere in the continental US, and Canada.
B) Custom roof raises, in which I take my own bus to your property, raise your roof with my own equipment, and make sure that you're satisfied with my work.

Context: I've raised 4 school bus roofs, all for good friends, and all for "pizza and beer", essentially. I've been a welder and fabricator for ten years, and the entire process was really rather straightforward; but I can understand why some people might not want to do it themselves, and I couldn't find many people offering roof raises as a service, though there were some.

TL;DR: Should I start a roof raise business?
Hello,
I think it may be a great idea. However, I would suggest you do it in addition to your regular job and see how it goes. I have my school bus that I would love to get restored into a living space to travel. I have not been successful in finding anyone to do it for me. I'm afraid it will be too expensive. That is for a person who can still do the remodel himself and I can't do it. I would be interested in how much you would charge to raise the roof of a bus for someone like me. I do not want to sell it because I just put a new motor into it which cost a bundle and it only has a few thousand miles on it before I retired. I tried to sell it but couldn't find a buyer. At least no one who would pay me what it is worth. So, I'm sort of stuck with it. I still have dreams of making something out of it though.
I wish you well in your idea. It's a good one and you can do it. Just go slow.
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Old 03-02-2022, 06:15 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Corl View Post
DISCLAIMER: first post, sorry if in wrong thread.

Should I start a roof raise business?

Would you, as a person looking for a bus to convert, prefer to raise the roof yourself, or would you prefer to buy a pre-raised bus?

How much would you be willing to pay, for such? For example: two busses available; both are 40ft, dog-nose, 2000 Thomas builts, with similar mileage, both have complete service records and recent engine overhauls. One is a stock bus, seats in place; the other has had the seats and insulation removed, the roof raised by 16-24 inches, and sheet metal over where the windows used to be (allowing you to cut your own windows). If the first one is worth $10k (or any arbitrary value), how much is the second worth?

In my head, I'd offer two different services:
A) pre-raised busses, for sale. These would be busses that I have personally bought, raised the roof myself by a given height, then posted on ebay/craigslist/here/elsewhere, for sale. I'd deliver anywhere in the continental US, and Canada.
B) Custom roof raises, in which I take my own bus to your property, raise your roof with my own equipment, and make sure that you're satisfied with my work.

Context: I've raised 4 school bus roofs, all for good friends, and all for "pizza and beer", essentially. I've been a welder and fabricator for ten years, and the entire process was really rather straightforward; but I can understand why some people might not want to do it themselves, and I couldn't find many people offering roof raises as a service, though there were some.

TL;DR: Should I start a roof raise business?
I would think long and hard about that based on the litigation mindset of the US population, which could be huge liability exposure changing the structure of a school bus without the engineering required to show that your efforts did not reduce the integral strength of the original platform. I would also like to add that by simply removing the inner ceiling skin you would have reduced the integrity of the original engineering that went into making a schoolbus

I comment in this regard as I have 30 years as an Insurance adjuster and 25 yrs in the autobody industry and know that risk management must be something you can anticipate that a reasonable person should know or ought to know and we know nothing about the "raise the roof" efforts and its effect on the structure going forward - you need a structural engineer to put his stamp on anything you change in a school bus.
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Old 03-06-2022, 02:36 AM   #19
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Hello and welcome to the forums!

I am from NC myself, born and raised here. My bus is currently in a small town on the east coast on my dads farm, but I live about three hours away.

As someone that would be interested in your services, I would agree with the others that your business would need to include a little more then just rasing the roof. For an example. I will be wanting my roof raised, a steel house door installed in the back/side where the emergency door is currently. I would want the back windows removed and skinned and lastly I would need the front opening where the door was, to be filled in and a compartment door created. A member on these forums did something like that do his wife could ride next to him and the steps/space was able to store oil and tool and such from the outside.

ALL that being said, I don't think I would hire anyone to do JUST the roof rasie and then leave me to find someone else to finish the work or have me complete it when life allows. In the end, this is something I will be hiring for but it would have to be the whole job and not cost my my first child.

Again, welcome to the forums! I do think there is a business out there because of the number of people looking for good work is there, but it would have to be a 'complete' job for it to work out I think.

James
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Old 09-21-2022, 12:49 PM   #20
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I think it's not bad idea
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