Affordable DIY Skoolie – Transform A School Bus Into a Tiny House

by craftmin | December 18, 2017

Recently, tiny houses and RVs have become quite trendy. Not only are they are cute and movable, they also come with appliances, running water and plumbing, and other things you would need to call it a home. So consider making a DYI skoolie or transforming a school bus into a tiny house. Plus, it’s affordable!

People have come up with so many ideas for a unique place to live, so now even student transport such as retired school buses have been made into custom motorhomes.

So, why make tiny houses out of old school buses? DYI skoolies cost a lot less and, given that you only know the basics of building houses, transforming a school bus into a tiny house is fairly easy to craft with all the things that make a home comfortable.

They are also sturdy. With proper maintenence, retired school buses can still be roadworthy because believe it or not, it will take a million miles before their diesel engine wears out. The floors and frames of all school buses are solidly built because they are made of steel, except those that the Lion Bus manufactured.

What is it like to live in a Skoolie?

School Bus Tiny Hous: DIY Bus Conversion by Nina Nelson

Image Courtesy: Shalommama School Bus Tiny House

A lot of planning is involved to transform an old school bus into a tiny house. First, however, you need to learn from the best.

  • Blogger Nina Nelson from and her family shared their skoolie experience.
  • Also check out how Hank, Justine, and Vince from enjoyed their skoolie lifestyle.
  • The lovebirds of The Real American Dream seem to be having fun bringing their skoolie with them on a never-ending adventure on the road.
  • I heard that Mary Helen, blogger of, had a crazy idea about living full-time in an RV with her family and it actually came true!

Where to look for Bus Conversion Tiny House Designs?

School Bus Tiny House: Bus Conversion Tiny House Designs

Image Courtesy: Niall Burke

Bus conversion construction advice, designs, plans and tutorials are available in the following:

  • If you’re looking for basic DIY skoolie tutorials and decor projects, would definitely be an excellent source.
  • Thoughtful lessons and video tutorials are posted daily at which talks about one family’s skoolie.
  • is a forum for DIY builders and skoolie enthusiasts. It is probably the best site to acquire in-depth information about bus conversion.

If you fancy building a DIY skoolie, here are some of the resources and tips to help you if you’re on a tight budget.

How much will it cost to transform a school bus into a tiny house?

School Bus Tiny House: Bus #1424 (a 1996 AmTran IC)

Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Well, a 34-feet long, 72-seater school bus usually cost at least $3,000. It has enough room to create about 200ft of livable space. One 72-seater that was up for sale at a local auction was bought by William Bailey for $2,605. Before bidding, he discovered something concerning its history but, unlike the other buses that have been auctioned, the bus he bought had been well-maintained and can also run for 140,000 miles.

Bailey spent two years just to transform his school bus into a tiny house, and now it’s his permanent home.

Where to buy a retired school bus?

School Bus Tiny House: 2002 BLUEBIRD BLUEBIRD

Image Courtesy: Creative Bus Sales

  • Old school buses are available in local classifieds like Craigslist.
  • You can also try buying them at online auctions such as eBay and Public Surplus which often have a lot of listings.
  • Bus dealerships also trade them, and Creative Bus Sales is one of the largest in the United States. You can check their website to find what is available.

By the way, to avoid any regrets, make sure to review the maintenance records of the vehicle before buying. Knowledge of its transmission and engine type also helps to determine what’s good or important and what’s not.

How Much Does a DIY skoolie Cost?

School Bus Tiny House: Deb and John’s incredible school bus conversion

Image Courtesy: Tiny House Talk

Well, a bus conversion with a working bathroom, kitchen, and other home comforts will probably cost at least $30,000. Fortunately, the amount spent can be reduced significantly by repurposing lots of sweat equity and building materials.

How to Buy a Half-Done Skoolie

School Bus Tiny House: Hank, Justine and Vince's Skoolie Lifestyle

Image Courtesy: Hank Bought A Bus

Andrew and Julie Puckett purchased a half-done skoolie which helped them to handle the amount of demo work that otherwise could have been intensely back-breaking. For instance, getting rid of bus seats is not their concern, so they are free to kick off with decorating and remodeling.

Partially converted skoolies are often bought as kitchenless and bathroomless campers. A 34-feet half-done school bus costs at least $10,000. These skoolies are available for purchase on the listed sites:

  • If you’re searching for a retired RV, Motor Home Finds will definitely help you. They browse the web to look for every available motorhome and then do the mapping and comparison for you. There is no need to fill out forms or deal with dealer inventories, year-old listings and campers. They really save you from hassle, so quit searching and just shop right away!
  • A-2-Z Bus Sales is a business that believes in the Golden Rule–treat others the same way you want to be treated. They will provide you with whatever transport you need. So, whether it’s a partially converted skoolie or a used school bus you are after, they got it.
  • Some of the most sophisticated skoolies are up for sale at Tiny House For Us. They have free listings for tiny houses.
  • As the leading marketplace for tiny and small houses that also operates online, Tiny House Listings can help you find a converted school bus, canvas yurt, small remote log cabin or a tiny house on wheels. They connect builders, buyers and sellers to easily showcase small and tiny spaces to millions of audience.