Converting a disused bus into a house gives a whole new meaning to living in a mobile home and we’ve seen quite a few awesome examples lately. This latest one is not only a home, but also a mobile hostel, which travels around the best skiing and snowboarding spots in Europe. It was built by Valerie Cook and Tim Boffe of Let’s Be Nomads. They will be travelling across Europe in it for the next 3 years, together with their toddler daughter and their dog.
They converted a 39-foot-long yellow bus for this project, adding quite a few green and sustainable features. They’ve fitted it with a solar power array, which takes care of its’ energy needs. The bus is also fitted with a composting toilet. For insulation they used renewable, chemical-free Doschawol wool insulation, which is also great for regulating the moisture build up that occurs when moving from areas of extreme heat to extreme cold and vice versa. The home is heated by a woodstove.
The interior of the home is very well spaced out too. The front is taken up by the lounge area, which features two rows of banquettes. These were custom built and feature collapsible tables , meaning they can be used for eating or working. When moved away, the space becomes a sitting room with enough room for children to play. The kitchen is next to the sitting area and features a woodstove and a propane-powered four-burner stove. There’s ample counter space, and also lots of storage space in this area. Next is the section with the bunk beds where guests can sleep. The family’s bedroom is located at the back of the bus. The bathroom features a small, but functional shower, sink and composting toilet.
All told, the conversion cost around $55,000. To fund their travels, they are renting out space on the bus, starting at $61 per night. The bus will be touring the Tirol, Austria region until May 2017, stopping at the top places to ski and snowboard. In the summer, they plan to drive up to Norway.
Here is another van into home conversion done right. It was designed and created by builder, architect and entrepreneur Ross Lukeman who wished to enjoy the digital nomad life in style. He completed his van home about half a year ago and now lives in it full time.
He used a non-descript white cargo van for the purpose, which he first stripped down completely. The mobile dwelling is barebones, and features a bed, an office space, a sink and closet/storage space. The twin bed flips up to reveal ample storage space. All the amenities and utilities, such as a water tank and batteries, are also hidden out of sight. The office space is very well thought out too. It features a full-size computer that’s mounted on the wall, and can also be used as a TV. All the other office components, including the keyboard, can be safely and neatly tucked away when not in use.
For insulation, Ross opted for a sustainable approach using UltraTouch recycled denim insulation instead of spray foam, which is often seen in projects like this. He also used very little protective polyurethane coating, which he only added in the kitchen. Another great sustainable feature is the solar panel, which provides all the needed electricity for the van. It is a 300-watt LG panel, which is connected to a 200 amp-hour battery bank. The van also features a roof vent fan, as well as an interior box fan. For heating, a propane heater is used.
Ross has been living in his van home for the past eight months and has travelled across most of the west coast in this time. He finances his nomadic lifestyle by helping other people design and covert vans into homes. He also teaches an online cargo van conversion course.
The newest trend in mobile homes seems to be converting a nondescript cargo van into a tiny home. While space is limited, a van home can be parked practically anywhere that a car can go. But converting a van into a home is not an easy task, nor is living out of one suitable for everyone. But now there’s a solution. A Colorado start-up, Native Campervans is renting out van homes to anyone wishing to test out this type of living or travel solution.
Native Campervans was founded by two friends from the University of Colorado, Jonathan Moran and Dillon Hansen. They specialize in converting minivans, called “Smalls”, and larger-sized cargo vans, called “Biggies” into homes and then rent them out to anyone wishing to experience van-life, but who doesn’t have the skills or the means to convert a van into a home on their own. The Biggies are built using a Ram ProMaster 136” and come in two different designs. This vehicle was chosen because it has lots of interior space and is easy to maneuver and drive.
The Biggie features a very modern interior design, which is very well thought out and flexible, meaning it can be adjusted easily to the renters’ preferences. The van home features a queen-sized bed that is installed in a way that allows for maximizing the interior space. Storage space is placed under the bed, while there is also an additional storage area under the bench in the kitchen/dining area. The kitchen also features plenty of cabinets and drawers, and they even installed a secret in-counter storage caddy. The kitchen is equipped with a sink, refrigerator, a two-burner propane stove, as well as all the necessary utensils. The Biggie also features a convertible dining table, and it is fitted with a 7-gallon water/waste tank.
All the Biggies are also pre-wired for solar, and they will install the solar panels on all of them soon. At this time, the vans get their power from an ancillary battery that is charged when the van is moving. Only one hour of driving is enough to sufficiently charge the battery for a whole day of operation of the lights, refrigerator and inverter, as well as charging other gadgets.
They are renting out the Biggies for $145 a night, and the Smalls for $85, though rates are adjusted based on the season. There is also a discount when renting for a longer period.
Full time traveling, at least for a while, is the dream of many, and artist Kelsey and journalist Corbin of Steps to Wander have made it a reality. They converted an old Ford E-350 El Dorado Encore camper van into a cozy home, which they can easily take on the road. The young couple from Portland, Oregon, are currently living in the van full time as they travel east along the US-Canadian border.
They purchased the van for $3,800. For that price they got one that was mechanically sound, and also had many cool and useful features, such as clerestory windows, a roof pop-up in the center, which offers more headroom, as well as a kitchen with an oven and a shower- and toilet-equipped bathroom.
It took them five months to make this van into a full-time home. They started the process by first stripping everything down, fix all that needed fixing, and clean off the mold and dirt that had accumulated. They also custom built all the furniture for their so-called Wander Wagon. This includes a dinette area with storage in the seats, and a couch that can be turned into a queen-sized bed.
They had some trouble along the way, which also extended the time it took to take their new home on the road. They were struck by a driver making an illegal left turn, and at first the insurance company didn’t want to pay for the repairs, since the Wander Wagon was gutted at the time. They were eventually able to sort it out favorably and finish the renovation.
They spent less than $10,000 on this renovation and the result is a comfortable mobile home, which they plan to live in while they explore the Americas and Canada. They are documenting their journey on their YouTube channel.
Living in a mobile home is a dream for many, and there are many ways of living that dream. Filmmaker Felix Starck and musician Selima Taibi are a young German couple hailing from Berlin, and they recently transformed a yellow school bus into a cozy and quite comfortable home for themselves and their dog Rudi. They plan to live in it full time, while traveling from Alaska to South America.
They used a 39-foot long 1996 Thomas International school bus for the purpose, which they purchased online for $9,500. Once they had it, they moved to the US and began the conversion process, dubbing the entire project Expedition Happiness. It took them 12 weeks to create a home out of the bus. Since they had next to no prior construction experience, they got help from online forums and communities, as well as another couple from North Carolina who had also successfully converted a school bus into a home.
Apart from repurposing a school bus, they also used a number of other salvaged and repurposed materials, such as pallet wood. The interior is nicely spaced out, with a sizable sitting area and dining/work table at the front of the bus, behind the driver’s seat.
The kitchen is also quite large, and features an angled counter, stove, sink and a refrigerator. The cupboards offer plenty of storage space. They split the bathroom into two halves along the middle of the bus, which is quite an interesting solution. The toilet is located in one half, and the shower in the other. They tiled the latter with handmade tiles.
They built the bed themselves, and put large storage drawers underneath it. They also placed it right under the emergency escape hatch in the roof of the bus, which makes for a great skylight. The bus can be hooked up to the grid, but it also features a solar power array on the roof.
The couple has already started their journey and vlog about the experience regularly.