The Bus

Outside Found School Bus Conversion Tour

Welcome to the Outside Found Bus Tour! We started this project in October of 2014, worked on the bus from March – July 2015, and have been on the road since then. The following is a tour of the completed bus. If you want to start at the beginning, visit our Bus Restoration Journal!

A quick note before we begin – the links on this page are mostly Amazon Affiliate Links. If you’re working on your own bus and find this helpful, we’d sure appreciate it if you would use these links to make your purchases so we can get a little kickback. Thanks in advance! 

The new paint is much brighter and shinier than the old paint.

DSC04744

DSC04745

The bus is a 2001 GMC BlueBird. We chose an old bus as our starting point for many reasons, the biggest being how affordable it was (only $5500!) and how much interior space we’d have (almost 200 square feet!) We worked for months before we actually built anything, planning and laying out our interior.

The Entryway

When we aren’t driving the entryway functions as our mudroom. With durable coin-grip flooring and plenty of easy to access storage, all manner of people hopping in and out is no problem. The driver’s seat is the original seat that came with the bus, recovered with an IKEA slip cover to match the rest of our cushions. More on that later! The light switches you see here run our 12 volt LED rope lights and outdoor LED Floodlights.

The entryway – we repainted & added storage in Spring 2016.

The entryway – we repainted & added storage in Spring 2016.

Outside Found School Bus Conversion Entryway / Mudroom

Driver's Area – fan & tiny dash cam.

Driver’s Area – fan & tiny dash cam.

The Living Room

The living room, right behind the driver’s area, is a wonderful multifunctional space. On the left we have a very comfy couch with integrated storage underneath. On the right we either have open floor space (great for a big dog who likes to stretch out!) or a cute flip up dining room table.

Outside Found Bus Conversion – Living Room

Outside Found Bus Conversion – Living Room

Outside Found Bus Conversion – Living Room

Outside Found Bus Conversion – Living Room

Outside Found Bus Conversion – Living Room

finalNice2-64

finalNice2-71

finalNice2-77

Update April 2016 – new curtains!

New curtains up – pretty low profile!

New curtains up – pretty low profile!

New curtains down – great for keeping light from leaking out at night.

New curtains down – great for keeping light from leaking out at night.

With the new sconces on instead of the overhead lights. Much better!

With the new sconces on instead of the overhead lights. Much better!

The Kitchen

The kitchen is by far my favorite “room” on the bus. In fact, it’s bigger than the kitchen Will and I shared in our first apartment together! We have everything needed for a delicious meal, including an Electric/Propane Norcold RV Fridge, two burner Atwood propane stove, and 6 gallon Suburban propane water heater.

Outside Found School Bus Conversion Kitchen

Outside Found School Bus Conversion Kitchen

Outside Found School Bus Conversion Kitchen

Outside Found School Bus Conversion Kitchen

Outside Found School Bus Conversion Kitchen

Outside Found School Bus Conversion Kitchen

Our tiny Breville Oven that gets stowed in the couch while we’re driving

Our pantry! Fits just enough food for the two of us and also serves as medicine cabinet.

Our pantry! Fits just enough food for the two of us and also serves as medicine cabinet.

Map Storage

The Office

The office is situated across from the kitchen so that the floor space inbetween can be monopolized by whatever activity is at hand. When we’re cooking, there’s enough room for two people to comfortably work together. When we’re working, we can stretch out and feel like we’re in a “real” office space. The dining room chairs double as our office chairs – when we’re driving, they stay in the desk stalls. Burly rubber feet keep them from sliding!

The office is also home to our solar power readouts. That’s right – the bus electrical is powered 100% by solar! Check out this post about living with solar for more info on our setup.

finalNice2-54

finalNice2-41

 

The Bedroom

The “bedroom” looks like little more than a walled in mattress, but functionally it is so much better. The bed is a comfortable 6″ memory foam mattress, complete with fluffy down comforter and pillows. Above sits our library, nestled in some floating IKEA shelves. Below lives a ton of storage and our Atwood forced air heater (for those chilly fall mornings!)

In front of the bed are two drawers for our day to day clothes, one for me, one for Will. More on clothes / laundry over here…

finalNice2-37

finalNice2-40

 

The Bathroom

The bathroom is pretty simple: a composting toilet and a teeny tiny shower.

finalNice2-48

finalNice2-42

finalNice2-45

The Garage

This is definitely the coolest room on the bus. Not only is it bright and covered with stickers, but it’s full of all of our favorite things: mountain bikes, backpacking, climbing, and kayaking stuff, and all of our outdoor goodies.

finalNice2-96

finalNice2-85

 

That’s All!

All in all, we can fit quite a lot into our little 200sq ft bus! If you have questions, ask them in the comments below and we’ll be sure to get back to you.

 

 

You Might Also Like

  • That is one of the coolest thing EVER!

  • tonycass

    Alyssa you guys have done a fantastic job on the bus! By far my favorite conversion that I’ve seen. I’m looking to do the same thing starting this next spring to get out of a mortgage and start traveling more. Where would you recommend looking for busses to buy?

    • Alyssa must have missed this one, but I had a great experience with a company out of Tampa, Florida. BGA Sales. Their website is http://www.wesellschoolbuses.com. Otherwise, the obvious places to look are: Ebay and Craigslist. There are also commercial truck listings online.

    • Whoops, sorry I missed your comment! We looked exclusively on craigslist – there was no way we were going to buy a bus site unseen on ebay, and the private sellers we contacted never had anything in our price range. There’s a cool website called http://www.searchtempest.com/ that lets you search across multiple craigslist areas. Best of luck to you!

  • Alyssa, what are the dimensions of your bathroom, if you don’t mind me asking? I’m trying to draw up some plans for ours right now and I feel like I may be making it too small. Thanks!

  • Karen Brown

    I love how this came out. It’s cozy yet wide open, neatly organized and seems to be accommodating you nicely. I have been looking for a school bus for a while now and just wondering if you have any ideas on how to find one that is inexpensive yet still running? I looked at auctions but there was nothing in NH. Most are too far away for me to purchase. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.Thanks

    • Will Hitchcock

      Hi Karen. Thanks for checking the bus out! It took us a while to find the right bus too. One thing that was really helpful for us was this website that has some helpful tools to help search Craiglist over larger areas: http://www.searchtempest.com/ . We ended up finding our bus through there. Good luck!

  • Holly Sellars Pisciotti

    I love this idea and LOVE your conversion. I do have a few questions and was wondering if you could help. What do you do for a/c when the bus is not running and also what did you get it covered under for insurance purposes. We looked into purchasing a small 12 passenger bus and was told that we had to have a commercial insurance and the price for that is outrageous.

    • Will Hitchcock

      Hey Holly, thanks for checking out the conversion! We actually talk a little bit about our A/C situation in our new post here: http://outsidefound.com/2015/08/reader-questions-living-with-go-power-solar/ In short, we don’t have any A/C on the bus, even when we’re driving. Luckily, we spent most of our time in cooler climates so it hasn’t been a problem for us at all yet.

      The insurance situation is another long story. We had a bit of a crisis trying to pull it all together in time. We did eventually get it figured out though. Since we basically have turned the vehicle from a bus into an RV, we were actually able to get it retitled at the DMV as a motor home. At that point we were able to get regular RV coverage from Good Sam Insurance. They’re one of the few companies that will do school bus conversions and the key with them is that you can’t be living on your conversion full time (more than 9 months out of the year).

      As a warning, you’ll have a difficult to impossible time finding insurance for the time between when you buy the bus and when the conversion is done. That’s when a commercial policy might come in to play.

      Good luck out there!

  • Ole Rebecca Hanson

    Hello and thank you for your post. My husband and I are converting our 35 ft blue bird school bus into our tiny home. Our project is in motion and we are stumped a little on the shower conversion. Would you please let us know how you capped in the window in the shower portion. What did you use for the white shower stall area, assuming your choice/method is mildew preventative. Thank you so much for your input. We are in Redmond Oregon and are excited to be moved in soon.

    • Alyssa

      Hi Rebecca! We “blanked out” three of our windows early on in the conversion (check out our Bus Renovation Journal: http://outsidefound.com/tag/bus-renovations/ ) by removing the windows themselves and covering the hole by riveting on a piece of galvanized sheet metal. For the shower specifically, we built a frame of 2×3’s and plywood then covered it with “shower surround” material that we found from Home Depot (it was in the trim area, right next to the beadboard.) Good luck with your conversion, let me know if you have any other questions!

    • Will Hitchcock

      Hey Rebecca! It’s awesome that you’re working on a conversion right now. We went back and forth a lot on the shower before we decided to add it into our project. When we finally decided to pull the trigger on it, we ended up making it the width of one of the windows. We removed that window, riveted a sheet of steel on the outside, sealed it up and spray foamed it inside, and then built the shower over that. For the shower walls, we simply cut and glued some generic tub surround material from Home Depot (you can buy it in 4×8 sheets) over plywood. We then siliconed over all of the corners to make sure they were water tight. The tub surround is really easy to clean and was a breeze to work with.

  • Marissa Tellam

    Hi! I just want to say that this is one of the coolest conversions I’ve ever seen, and I really admire and envy the life you’ve set up for yourself. I have a few questions as well, if you wouldn’t mind answering them for me. One, since you said that you got your bus on Craig’s list, which state did you find it in, and are there any more like it? What was the price of the bus alone? How many miles did it have on it when you bought it (assuming it was used), and finally how many miles do you expect to get out of the bus? Thank you so much for your time 🙂

    • Will Hitchcock

      Hey Marissa, thanks for the kind words! We were looking all over the country for the bus and ended up finding this particular one in California from a private seller who only had the one. We really weren’t that picky about where it came from, but you should be slightly cautious about buses that were operated in snowy climates because the salt that’s put down on the road can lead to a lot of corrosion and rust on the chassis. The price of our bus was $5,500 which seemed at the time to be a little on the high end. It had 101k miles on it and seemed to be in overall excellent condition so we didn’t mind the extra cost. I don’t expect that we will see the end of our bus’s life. They say these diesel engines can run for 500k miles or more if they are well maintained. More likely is that we’ll end up selling the bus to some more adventurers before we hit that mark. No plans to do that yet though!

      • Marissa Tellam

        Thank you so much; this really helped me understand how this was possible. Can’t wait to make one of my own!

  • Steve Hoskins

    You guy’s have done a great job and I look forward to following you through your travels! in the comments below you have had so many people ask where to purchase a used bus just thought i would share where i have been buying ours for work they are great to work with and have a lot of choices look at Midwest Transit Equipment . right now is a great time to buy because most school districts change out their buses in the summer. be a little choosy i have been really disappointed in the 2 we bought out of the Kankakee office because of rust issues but the 4 out of Whitestown and 3 out of Swansea have been really good buys!

  • Steve LaFontaine

    the original internet group for skoolies is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/schoolbusconversionuts which has HUNDREDS of skoolies and 4000 members..

  • Justin Pease

    Hi Alyssa, I’m a Casting Producer for a hit show on HGTV! Your bus is absolutely beautiful and inspirational! I’d love to touch base with you in hopes of coordinating a trip out to visit and tour this bus for one of our upcoming episodes! Please let me know the best way to contact you and discuss these details further. Thanks and hope to talk to you soon!

    • Hi Justin – thanks for getting in touch! You can email us at outsidefoundbus@gmail.com for more info. Look forward to hearing from you!

      • Justin Pease

        Hi Alyssa, hope you had a great weekend! I haven’t heard back and just wanted to make sure you received my e-mail. Let me know if you’d like me to resend it. Thanks again!

  • Scott Foyster

    Hi Alyssa,
    We have just found your blog and love it. We are 10 weeks away from starting our bus conversion in Australia. We love your layout and are re-thinking ours. I have a few questions about the LED light strips. How do you find them? Does it provide enough light on its own or do you need additional lighting?
    Thanks Deirdre

    • Will Hitchcock

      Hey Deirdre! Thanks for checking out the blog. That’s super exciting that you’ll be getting started on your own conversion soon.

      The LED light strips have been a good lighting solution for us. They provide plenty of light for day to day use and are bright enough to read by. If anything, we were wanting for a little less light above the couch and dining table for when we are trying to keep it low key. I would recommend that you consider a dimmer switch to tone down the intensity and also looking into the RGB LED strips (http://amzn.to/1OQ27QD) so that you can change the color of the lights.

      Another option would be adding more of the LED reading lights like we have in the kitchen (http://amzn.to/1OQ1WVn). The only thing with those is that they are a pretty intense LED white color.

      I hope that’s helpful. Let us know if you have any more questions and good luck!

  • Kaylie T

    Alyssa, Will & Hilde,

    Love this bus, and all of the renovations that you guys put into it to make it super cozy, yet clean and modern. Truly a labor of love and SO worth it! I have been on my boyfriends butt about converting a bus for a couple months now, but I guess that’s not something that we can really do right now, as there is just no space in the middle of Boston to park a bus and convert it 😉

    If you guys every make it out to the East Coast, be sure to check out North Conway, NH. Tons of hiking, skiing, the Saco River… beautiful 4 season area! Bar Harbor, ME is also a gorgeous one of a kind area to check out as well… the hiking is incredible!

    Love reading your posts and hearing about all of your adventures with Hilde!! (:

    Kaylie
    http://www.lifeasyouliveit.blogspot.com

    • Hey Kaylie – thank you for the kind words! One of the reasons we haven’t ventured east is because of the lack of space… it’s so easy to park / camp for free in the west that we haven’t gotten the itch to travel east yet! I’ve spent a tiny bit of time in Maine and would love to return. Thanks for the tips, happy trails! 🙂

  • Pingback: Designing from afar | twodogsandabus()

  • Mike Shanline

    Hey guys! I’m far from my dream of having a setup similar to yours. I’m in the planning phase. I was curious if you have an in-line water pump, or if the water heater performs that function. I will eventually be creating a website to document my journey. I have a wife and 2 children that I would love to explore the US and Canada with. Thanks.

    • Hey Mike – we have a separate pump that we toggle on and off with a switch, our water heater does not have pumping ability.

  • Olivia Hamilton

    Hey guys! I love your bus, it’s my muse! I am a Junior in college and my boyfriend and I plan on converting a bus when I graduate so we have more freedom to travel with our animals! also I hate renting because I feel like my money is just going down the drain. I just have a couple of questions about the bus. First off, do you ever feel cramped with the low ceilings? Do you ever hit your head? I was also wondering what the windows that you covered up look like from the outside. Those are my two main concerns, as well as finding somebody who can reliably install the electrical, sewer, and water hookups for RV sites. Also, did you get your bus painted from the traditional yellow or did you buy it white? I love the white!!!

    • Hey Olivia – apologies for not getting back to you sooner! We don’t feel cramped in the bus because neither of us are tall enough to hit the ceiling. However, if Will were two inches taller, the bus would not be a viable option for us because he wouldn’t be able to stand up straight! You can see examples of the windows on our latest post (http://outsidefound.com/2016/04/summer-2016-bus-improvements/) We worked with an RV contractor (the kind of person you would call if your RV got in an accident or needed a new fridge or something) to get all of the “brains” of our electrical and plumbing hooked up. The previous owners of our bus painted it white before we bought it but we recently had it repainted again by a more professional painter.

  • Tim Stephenson

    I was curious what is the interior height in your bus?

    • Will Hitchcock

      Hey Tim. I haven’t measured it exactly, but the current interior height is probably right around 6’1″. I’m about 5’11” and don’t have a problem with clearance, but taller folks definitely do. We lost about 2 1/2″ of height when we added the insulation, subfloor, and flooring.

  • Sam Snyder

    quick question, as I am diving into this. I might have missed the discussion, so if it has been asked already apologies – insurance. It seems like insurance companies are hesitant to insure conversions to a school bus.

  • Lydia Dennin

    We are also from the Boulder/Longmont area and looking to find resources about renovating. We are hoping to purchase a bus in December/January time frame and are wondering where to park it in order to begin work and in general have tons of questions about who did your electrical/plumbing etc. We are hoping to be done by August 2017. I have tons of questions and would love to speak with you if you have time.

    • Hey Lydia – we lived in Boulder for a year, but we bought the bus and worked on it in California, so I can’t help you with parking. We have visited Boulder since then but the lack of campgrounds and accessible forest service land makes it really hard to park the bus for any long period of time.

      Re: plumbing and electric, we got most of our info from a local mobile RV repairman. You can usually find these guys at rv service shops, they are super helpful!

      • Lydia Dennin

        Thank you. Did you try to get business sponsorships? Apparently it’s a new thing. I am wondering if it’s worth our time. I noticed you bought a solar kit – do you find that what you have is more than you need? Also, how long is your buses living area (living room to garage)? Trying to determine what size bus we need.

  • Gretchen

    Hi, Alyssa! I absolutely am in love with your bus! I have two questions. Where do y’all park it during the winter? and also, how much (averagely) did the entire project cost?

  • Thank you so much for sharing!! Would you be willing or able to share a break down of the costs for your bus? We are about 60 days out from starting our conversion, and i am working on the budget now. Having a real world example would be most awesome! Thanks again for sharing your journey!! We plan to model the look and feel of your bus in our own. 🙂

  • Rilea

    I’m curious how much did it cost to do something like that?

  • Hi beautiful bus couple! 🙂 I’ve been admiring your bus as my hubby and I convert our own, and I have a question about your “new” grey curtains. The roll-up system would work well for us but seems time-consuming in the morning. Have you put some sort of solid bar on the bottom so that the curtains roll up easily? Any other tricks? Thanks SO much for any advice you have! Best wishes.

    • Hey Wandering – so sorry for the long time it took to respond here. We did have a small wooden dowel (like you would find at a craft shop) at the bottom of the curtains. It worked great! 🙂

  • Pingback: People Are Masterfully Transforming School Buses into Mobile Tiny Homes – user's Blog!()

  • Pingback: School Bus Conversion Transforms the Vehicle into Spacious Tiny Home | Culture Overload()

  • Jessica Lauren

    HI! This bus is picturesque and perfect! My husband and I are travel physical therapists and are planning on renovating a school bus and traveling that way! We are in the initial planning and research stages and hoping to make a purchase this summer. What were some of the first steps you took when taking on this huge project?

  • Pingback: Mobile Office Set-Ups to Inspire You to Travel Full-time - Heath and Alyssa()

  • Sean Sorlie

    Have you ever considered a motorcycle to get around easy? I think i would either design a part of the garage to fit one or add some kind of platform on the back.

    • Hi Sean – we did consider a motorcycle, even went so far as to buy the hitch rack! But then we never really felt the need for an additional vehicle. Plus, Hilde wouldn’t be able to ride!