Building a Skoolie

There are so many things you can do with an old motor home and an old RV. The possibilities are endless and one of the things you can do with them is to build a skoolie.

If you are the type of person who loves to do DIYs, then this article is for you. Usually building a skoolie requires a school bus, but you can do that with any trailer, RV or a motor home, it just depends on the size of it and pretty much the size of the tiny home you want to get.

You can use the vehicle to make a tiny house for yourself or you can even sell it later. Some people opt for bigger vehicles that are working without issues so they can move them around and some people want an extra room in their backyard.

Depending on your ideas and your budget, you can buy a bus or reuse your old motor home or RV. Just know that these projects take time and patience. And chances are, you will go over budget, no matter how big of a budget you have.

Bus Conversion: a DIY Skoolie

People all around the country are converting student transports like the ones they remember riding to school every day, into custom motorhomes that are usually called skoolies.

If you are looking to buy a bus, you should know that retired school busses are relatively inexpensive to buy. With some building skills, it will be fairly easy for you to convert one in a tiny home.

If the bus was properly maintained, it will serve the new purpose for a long time and they will remain roadworthy for years to come. You should know that the diesel engines can last beyond one million miles.

However, if you don’t want to invest in a retired school bus, you can reuse your old trailer, RV or motorhome.


Depending on the location, age and condition of the bus, the market prices vary. If you want a newer bus that was kept in mint condition, you may have to pay a bit more. However, the ballpark figure for a standard 72-seater that’s 34-feet long starts at around $3,000. You should know that with a bus like that you will have enough room to create about 200 square feet of livable space.

If you are looking for a first-person experience, then there are people who already have experience in that. A skoolie owner says that they purchased 72-seater at a local auction. This is the first advice, look for auctions around your home and see what you can find. Exercising due diligence will uncover the vehicle’s history. That way you will know if the bus has good maintenance records and see how many miles it passed.

People use these buses to live in them, but they can also be used as an RV and just travel around in them. Most people who are doing this because they just love a DIY project say that the whole conversion, without rushing, can take up to 2 years. However, you can speed things up and get it done faster if you focus on the project.

How Much Does a Bus Conversion Cost?

This question does not have a simple answer. It all depends on how many things you want to have in the skoolie and converting a bus to a home with all comforts such as a bathroom and a working kitchen can cost from $10,000 to $30,000.

Skoolie Livin suggests that if you repurpose building materials and if you try and do most of the things on your own, you can significantly reduce the conversion costs.

Most of the construction involves standard building materials like flooring, insulation board, trim, and plywood. The electrical and plumbing systems can be outfitted with RV and marine products for optimal portability and compactness.

You can buy a lot of things in an auction or yard sale or you can even visit the local junkyard to get some great things that will save you a lot of money. The main thing in this is that you have to invest a lot of your time repurposing things if you want to save some cash.


Opting for a Partially Converted Skoolie

If you don’t want to spend too much time converting the bus or your old motorhome, you can buy a partially converted skoolie.

That will reduce the amount of backbreaking demolition work you will have to do. For example, you won’t have to remove dozens of bus seats. With this, you will be able to start with all the fun stuff like decorating and remodeling.

If you want to buy a partial conversion, then you should know that they are usually sold as campers that lack kitchens and/or bathrooms. The cost of a converted 34-foot bus will probably cost around $10,000. You can find skoolies if you search tiny house sale listings and if you just want to buy a finished one, you can find that too, just know that they cost a lot more.

Conversion Steps

There are a lot of things that you will have to take in order to make a tiny home out of a bus or a motor home. The usual steps include:

  • Demolition
  • Floor plan – along with the issues that usually happen when you change the bus floor
  • Installation – make the bus a livable place

After you are done with removing all the unnecessary parts, making the floor plan and with a lot of troubles, executing it and finally, adding all the things that you need, you will have a livable place that is ready to hit the road.


You can use the skoolies to live in them or just as a transport method to a camping site. Be aware, once you finish it you will not want to leave it. There are many people who started building a skoolie as a side project and ended up living in it because they fell in love with it.

Before starting the project know that you will need to have patience and that it will cost you some money. However, it is all worth it when you finally get in the finished space and know that you built it from scratch.

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