It’s hard to believe when I look at the video that the conversion took us only two months. And the total cost of the project was around $5500, including the cost of bus. Imagine purchasing your custom built home for only $5500. It kind of blows my mind.
And the thing is we didn’t have that money. We didn’t save for it. We didn’t borrow it. We paid for the bus a little at a time as we got the money from some contracting jobs. It was like it always seems to be the money (or opportunity to earn it) appears just as we need it. Generally it’s, no more and no less than we hope for.
After we got the bus, which was $3000. Jeff started the conversion. The first thing he did was remove the seats. Which didn’t cost a thing but was a whole lot of work on Jeff’s part.
He worked well into the night that first day and much into the morning after.
Until all the seats were removed but one. We kept the little one in the back for what would become my desk. We kept two others on board (but removed) to be used as part of the dinette.
While Jeff was working on removing the seats, I worked a little on the outside of the bus. I sanded down and painted the side strips of the bus with black chalkboard paint. I figured it would be perfect for our artist family. We could write, draw on the side of the bus and change it over and over.
I also added a little flair to the light boxes with some stained glass paint.
Removing the seats proved to be really messy, think of all the ground steal. So, Jeff hosed down the whole inside of the bus.
Then Jeff gets a call from a friend who is converting an apartment building into condos. He has some possible work for Jeff. We go and check it out. There are a few things Jeff can do to earn a little money but even better they are in the process of gutting the apartments and were planning on throwing away all this kitchen stuff.
We get a free kitchen. Cabinets. Stove. Counter.
We decide the best way to proceed is to put a floor in before we start laying installing the kitchen. We pick up the least expensive wood floating floor we can find. I would have loved to get bamboo but it just wasn’t in the budget on this one. We find flooring that suits us just fine for under $200.
So they removed the back heater and got to work installing the floor well it into the night.
Then they position and bolt down the bus seats for the dinette.
They finish up the floor install and we are gifted a fridge.
We start the kitchen layout/build and get a brand new counter top from the same condo conversion job. The dinette table we pulled out of our retired class c motor home. The brown passenger seat you see in the pictures, that was from the class c too.
I painted the front light box and finish the chalkboard paint on the other side of the bus.
Sink gets installed.
We start exploring options for water tanks. Jeff finds a long narrow metal tank that will make a nice gray water tank in the apartment gutting. Another free score. For the white water tanks we decide on food grade barrels and find a place that sells used ones for $8 & $12 a piece.
We pick up some OOPS paints and some plywood. This we buy. The paint is $1-5 a can. The plywood is $25/sheet but we only buy a few sheets at a time, as we find use for them. For the whole project we used somewhere between 10-13 sheets.
The layout of the bunks begin and the first walls are erected.
Everyone checks out Griffin’s bunk room space.
The kids are all excited because the space is much bigger than they were expecting. The mental plans for the bed/bunk rooms begin.
Jeff spends the nights working on the bus and I spend my days cleaning up after all the work. And strapping down whatever needs to be so when we drive things don’t fly around and kill us.
At this point we are still parking at the trailer in Strafford (NH) and the kids are sleeping in the trailer but we are spending our days on the bus. And Jeff is helping out on the apartment conversion whenever possible. The kids find things to do on the bus (and outside) to do while I clean and paint the bus during the day. Sometimes they pitch in on the cleaning and decorating.
We pick up more plywood and a few incidentals (more wood, fittings, screws and such). We add more walls including the bathroom walls and our bed! :)
The night he finished the our bed (in the wee hours of the morning mind you) we slept on the bus and never went back. We moved the onto the bus one by one as we finished each of their beds.
We were gifted some supplies from a good friend. The piano hinges were perfect to make fold-up beds to give some height to the bunk rooms.
We were gifted some chairs from Grampa Ernie.
Griffin’s area was the first we worked on. (Wolfgang decides to try out the bed platform)
Xoey room was next. She even spent some time decorating :)
The hallway is taking shape. You can even see where Wolfgang’s room will be. And, yes, his is next to build.
With the walls all in the view from the front of the bus was completely different! Looking at the photos it’s hard to believe it was filled with bus seats!
We bought the foam for the kids beds. We did it piece meal…because foam is/was insanely expensive. And Jeff just crammed Griffin’s Temperpedic mattress in (until we painted the outside windows it was hilarious, it looked like smushed dough – but he was/is so happy about it!).
We are gifted a magic chair and Jeff installs it as my seat up front. He also replaces his captain’s chair with one from our Class C.
Plans are made for my desk area. It’s built. Then painted.
I extend the painting to the hallway and the rest of our room. Jeff builds a door to our room. Lots of little things are taken care of and/or added, like hooks, racks, a door for Griffin’s room, ladder for Xoey…etc…
I find a cool method of storage. ;) And Jeff starts wiring the outlets all over the place. At this point we can “plug in” when we stop and use all the outlets.
Griffin goes and visits his Nana for a few days and we seize the opportunity to build out his bunk room, working within his parameters of design as best we can. Thankfully, he’s happy with the end result. Yep, that’s a TV and he has an XBox in there too.
Jeff works on the bathroom.
While I work on Wolf’s room. He was visiting a couple of good friends up in Camden, Maine for a week so we thought it was the perfect time to finish up his room.
Then Jeff heads in and builds Wolf’s desk out of some gifted shelving. The chair is from Goodwill, $10.
I start on the curtains. Velcro and fleece.
We park in a friend’s boat workshop/garage for a few days. Jeff works on the underside of the bus. You know, the water stuff. And the indoor plumbing.
I do a little more painting and make some more curtains! I got the idea of using a fleece blanket from doing the curtains in Xoey’s room. I used a little blanket our friends the Martins gave Jeff last year for the curtains in her room. It was perfect. So, I found these mini-fleece blankets at walmart that were 2 for $5. If I cut them in half they were/are the perfect size for the windows. That’s $1.25 per window in the living area for fleece. In the kitchen I added a ruffle so that area was more like $1.75 per window (for the fleece – still had to buy the velcro which was pricey).
We are gifted amazing LED lights from a good friend.
We find a cool rack for $1 @ the Habitat for Humanity ReStore & we buy some baby latches for the cabinets so stuff stops flying out at us as we drive around ;)
We pick up some cool benches at Christmas Tree Shops for a total of $220. They prove to be a great time saving investment. We had to do a little modification to them (and repairs over time) but they no house our battery banks (which are charged off of the running engine), tools and the one even acts as our pantry.
Well, that’s about the gist of it. Now we are traveling around and living full-time on the bus. It’s been a wonderful experience. We’ve been blessed by grand experiences and wonderful people.
Stay tuned…because there is a book on the way.
Peace & Thank-YOU so very much for reading,