Admit it; when you were a kid, the school bus ride home on a Friday was the only part of high school that you enjoyed. The excited chatter was infectious and even if you could resist participating- you still wanted to listen. There was a certain freedom in riding through town with all your friends ( and usually no seat belts ) over bumps and turns as the bus driver dropped everyone off at their bus stops – one by one – to enjoy their two days of freedom.
Well now that high school is a thing of the past; that rusty old school bus isn’t the first thing that comes to any of our minds when we think of “Freedom”. We are quick to picture in our mind stacks of money, private islands, jet planes and traveling around the world – and those things are great – but they’re not the defining factor. These things alone are not what fulfills you.
Let’s take a look at a man who took an old rusty school bus and with little more than his own hands and determination – turned it into one of the most amazing small home designs the internet has ever seen.
Here she is – school bus #7058 – discovered sitting in a parking lot with a price tag of two grand. Thanks to a little black spraypaint above the windshield; you’d never you would have to use a little detective work to figure out she was school bus. What does the inside look like?
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Once you step inside the bus it becomes clear what you’re dealing with here. That is a lot of seats and a lot of space – except the roof is a little too short. I wonder why. Time to take her home.
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Get her back home? Check. Now the old girl is sitting in the yard and the work can begin.
Our hero drafted up this design first for the bus – putting his bathroom near the back of the bus. He later decided that he did not want to live on a basketball court and drafted a brand new plan for her.
The final design – much better than the first. The bathroom is now near the front of the bus for easier access by friends and there is a larger congregating area for movie watching. Now that the design is down on paper – it’s time to make it happen.
Take a seat. No, literally, take one – they need to go. Thank heavens for scrap metal guys, they have this stuff gone faster than you can shake a stick. Don’t actually shake a stick at them though – they’ve got scrap metal.
Now the bus is clear of all those bulky seats taking up space and the only thing in the air is the smell of the rubber floors and years of lost homework. Now you have room to really get to work on her.
As the ceiling comes down piece by piece; there isn’t nearly as much rust as you thought. That’s a good thing; as this ceiling will need to be raised to provide room for a fully grown adult to stand.
Our guy got these panels out without using an impact drill – that’s impressive. If you ever find yourself in this position – leave that insulation in – it’s one of his main regrets on the project. You live and you learn, though.
Okay, so maybe the ride home on the bus wasn’t fun for everyone. Crumble it up and throw it away; we’re changing history here.
Here’s a view after all the flooring and ceiling panels have been removed. No seats except for one lawn chair and the windows have also bid our hero adue. Those windows had poor insulation and needed to be gone so the metal beams can be cut in half.
One last view from the back of the bus before the cut – you can see that it has become a sort of hang out spot for in between tasks. Time to sit down and begin phase two.
Phase two begins with a sketchup of the scaffolding – to raise the roof. Oh, many “raise the roof” jokes were made.
Once the roof has been raised; this is what the bus should look like. With sketch up’s out of the way, it’s now time to cut the old girl in half.
With the screw jacks securely in place and the scaffolding all ready to go; she’s almost ready to be raised up.
Quick close up on the roof – properly attatching the scaffolding is important. Unless you enjoy ducking down when you chill out in your school bus house; it’s kind of instrumental to the entire process.
These steel ribs needed to be cut – but also there was the small task of having 25 “sleeves” fabricated to re-connect them once the bus has been sawed into two pieces.
Here we have it; with a sawzall and a little elbow grease, the old bus is cut right into two pieces; like a magic act gone wrong.
Now that the roof has been successfully raised 20 inches using the screw jacks seen at the bottom of the blue scaffolding; those 25 steel sleeves can do their job and hold the roof up. But what about that gap in the back?
You can see here there is a small gap that will have to be fixed; but other than that the roof raising is a success. It’s starting to look less like a bus in here, and more like a really cool tiny house.
Here’s the view of the old girl from the outside – 110% different from were we started – and different still from where we are going to end up with this project.
Now the scaffolding is removed and some temporary lighting has been installed along the ceiling. From the looks of the sledge hammer in the middle of the floor – Thor has been here.
These lights come in very handy at night time – especially for putting up sheet metal. Make sure to be extra careful at this point; our hero cut his arm on one of the sheets and now has a permanant scar to initiate the re-telling of this school bus tale for years to come.
We have successfully built a yellow oven. Just kidding; but this is only a small break in the middle of a determined build. The fun hasn’t even started yet.
With the steel walls installed on both sides; it feels a little bit like Christmas in here. That big gap is still there above the windshield; but for now we need to take care of the floor.
Rustoleum was used for maximum protection and maximum coolness.
School Bus windows have been long gone; so it’s time to cut some new ones. This one is for the kitchen area. But it’s time to do something about that gap from earlier.
Another quick sketch up reveals – all that’s needed is a perfectly shaped piece of metal.
A little help from the guy who made the steel sleeves that we used earlier and we now have a piece of metal to cover that gap right up.
She is looking more presentable now; no roof gaps. Our hero decides now to focus on the floor. Foam insulation and a wood frame – although the wooden frame is not neccissary.
Here we have insulation on the walls – for those cold nights. It’s time to take a break and relax in the school bus ( can we still call it a school bus at this point? ) while having a few drinks.
A few cushions and a makeshift table was all that was needed to turn this project into a temporary relaxing bar; where our hero invited several friends over for drinks and to talk of memories past. Probably.
The very next day; the engine started having problems with the power steering. Pro tip: Don’t try to parallel park a school bus without power steering. It’s difficult.
Quick view from the top of the bus; drinking a cup of grape juice. Finely aged grape juice.
Normally being framed is a bad thing; but today it’s an awesome thing. The inside of this bus is being transformed into a house; bit by bit.
These are the frames for the entertainment center and refridgerator. The fan keeps air circulating during the build – it can get pretty hot in there.
It’s difficult to imagine this old girl taking kids back and forth to school now; as it has pretty much been changed into a makeshift club house for the moment. Thor has also returned to leave another hammer next to the computer.
With the framing for the water tank in place; an old Ikea couch serves as a rest area now – a lot better than a plastic lawn chair. This Old American flag was salvaged from a goodwill store and put to good use on the interior wall.
With most of the framing finished; you can see the water tank just underneath the flag. An open beer rests on the counter – an homage to the celebration that will take place once the finishing touches on this amazing build are put in.
This sink is – you guessed it – IKEA. It looks minimalistic resting in it’s nook on the counter but it get’s the job done. Time to finish things up.
Masonite – sturdy, light and very flexible. A good choice for the interior walls.
Peeking through the hole in the desk wall; you can see the batteries for the solar panels. The light peeking around the corner won’t last all night – so electricity is of course a factor.
White subway tile is used on the wall above the sink – but some wiring still needs to be done.
Patched together before your eyes is 300 watts of solar panels; one 3000 watt pure sine wave inverter and 6 six volt batteries wired together. The yellow wire is standard 110v that will power everything except the lights, vent fans and water pump.
Close up view of the electric panel. The electricity couldn’t have come at a better time – it was starting to get cold.
So cold in fact, that this bottle of olive oil even froze overnight. Yikes!
Unexpected tire change – that’s a whole day job, right there. A minor setback but a costly one.
Ah, memory lane. This Armadillo sticker is still here from when the bus was in service. It’s time to say goodbye to the little fellow though – because it will need to be painted.
A good desk was important to this build; so a two feet deep and five feet wide piece of wood was used. That is plenty of workspace for anyone to use.
Of course the obligitory gaming / movie watching station – cozily set up right next to the work desk. Those Christmas lights are still doing just fine lighting up the place.
The walls for the bathroom are coming together – they will house a shower and a toilet.
The hand made cabinets here are so large that it may not seem like a 55 inch TV there; but it is. It only takes a little bit of wiring to get everything hooked up to it.
What a great picture; you would never believe it was taken inside of a school bus. With everything coming together so quickly; this old girl is about to look a million times better.
The livingroom is in full function – just a few small details to finish up the inside.
Try not to be struck with awe at this overstocked refridgerator – it serves it’s purpose nicely. It’s nice to have a snack while finishing up a project.
Pallet wood is what is used to make this door to the bathroom. The duct tape on the counter was luckily not needed this day.
It’s solar panel day! It isn’t easy with one man; but the solar panels get installed properly.
Finally, it’s time for the ceiling. I bet you didn’t expect to see the pink panther inside this old bus, did you? Well, it’s time to see how she turned out.
View of the finished work area; that’s a mighty fine desk.
The outside of the old girl; getting ready for a nice coat of white paint.
Voila! Rustoleum paint and she’s a brand new ride with a secret inside.
What better place to put a bed than right next to the Emergency Exit? A beautiful view every morning and a cozy nook made of cedar wood to sleep within.
The finished kitchen! A little wood still needs to be added; but for the most part it is finished. At over 8 feet long; it’s a bigger kitchen than you’d find in most small studio apartments.
Here’s a finished view from the other side – showcasing the AC unit. It certainly looks spacious! It’s all powered by a 40 gallon fresh water tank, a 12v water pump, a city water hookup and a tankless water heater. That’s not all, though.
Another finished view of the living room slash work area. Plenty of space for hanging out with a few friends, chatting and drinks during a movie.
Finished and looking great; this old school bus is no longer an old school bus. It is now officially an extremely awesome off grid tiny home; complete with all the comforts of home.