Recent times have made us look into the terms reuse, reduce and recycle. Keeping that in mind, people have come up with various solutions using various objects and materials. Used vehicles such as buses can be an example of this. Buses, typically school buses, having run their course and are abandoned or sold off are used. In most cases, it is more expensive to repair them and use them as initially intended. However, another use for them growing in popularity today is bus conversion. Buses are converted to make mobile homes or vacation homes. People have come up with innovative ideas to redecorate them as parts of houses like RV’s (recreational vehicles). 

10 Things to know about bus conversion - Sheet1
Bus conversion_©Paved To Pines

Here are 10 things to know about bus conversion:

1. Legal Work | Bus Conversion

The bus must be registered with the transport office and the person driving should have a driving license for a bus. Also, the mechanical parts of the vehicle should be fit for the road. The vehicle must pass ‘fitness tests’ depending upon its age other than pollution tests according to concerned authorities. Before converting the bus, make sure that it is registered as a recreational vehicle

2. Type of Bus 

The bus can be a school bus or a travel company’s bus or any other type available in the market. The model and make of the vehicle will determine the usability and what can be done with it. Ensure that the model is apt for intended usage. If you have a greater number of spaces, you must go for a longer bus. 

3. Condition of Vehicle | Bus Conversion

If you are purchasing the vehicle, look for damage to the vehicle. There is a good chance that parts of the chassis are rusted and need to be replaced or repaired. The overall condition of the vehicle will also give you an estimate of the amount to be spent on bus conversion. This will also be a deciding factor of the feasibility of the bus conversion. In some cases, the engine may also need to be replaced which affects the initial price of the bus. 

4. Space Available

Based on the intended use, consider the spaces available. The first thing to consider is the height. The floor of the bus is generally sloped. It is better to get a general idea of the heights in different areas of the vehicle. Also, consider using existing cabin spaces for storage to reduce costs. 

10 Things to know about bus conversion - Sheet2
A kitchen in a converted bus_©Expedition Happiness

5. Planning the Spaces and Services Required | Bus Conversion

Many professionals convert buses into mobile homes, recreational homes or offices. It is always better to consult them. But do make a list of spaces expected. Consider having a toilet with a shower, a kitchenette, a T.V. unit and a separate or common living and sleeping space. This will also help you determine your average energy and water usage. For example, if you plan to power washing machines and dryers along with air conditioners and refrigerators, you will have to store more power for which you need to leave out space for the equipment required. 

6. Electrical Work

Just like a normal house, electrical points have to be planned out beforehand in this case as well. After you have finalized your plan for your bus, fix the number and type of electrical points required. Consider lighting fixtures as well as points for charging phones and laptops. Use energy-saving appliances as much as possible to minimize energy usage. 

7. Source of Electricity

The biggest issue with mobile homes is having an uninterrupted electrical and water supply. There has to be enough capacity to store electricity for the duration of the trip or at least until the next charging station. Most mobile homeowners install solar panels to power their homes. Ensure that the panels receive adequate sunlight and that there are enough batteries to store the accumulated energy. 

8. Plumbing | Bus Conversion

Plumbing fixtures have to be planned beforehand as well. Apart from a water storage tank, you will also need a soiled water tank and a black tank connected to your toilet. These must be cleaned out regularly. You can also consider using bio-toilets or composting toilets. A pump and other equipment have to be carried at all times for this. Some gas stations have provisions for cleaning out these tanks. 

9. Water Source 

Install a tank based on your requirements while keeping in mind the amount of load it will add to the vehicle. Keeping a pump and a filter to fill up the tank is also advised. This will allow you to fill water from rivers or wells. Have sufficient pipes to help collect the water. Consider storing potable water separately. A drinking water filtration mechanism will be helpful in situations where there is no filtered water available.

Use of modular furniture_©Hank Bought A Bus

10. Materials for Interiors | Bus Conversion

As it is a mobile home, with emphasis on the word ‘mobile’, go for lightweight materials that will not be a burden to your vehicle’s engine. Already a lot of weight has been added with appliances and other equipment. Going for particleboard and lightweight hollow finishes will be helpful. Consider using modular furniture that can be used in a variety of ways. 


Sanika Palnitkar is an architect who loves to read. She finds science fiction fascinating and one of the reasons for joining architecture. Other than that, she prefers reading or watching thrillers, mysteries, adventures or fantasies (nerd stuff). Learning new software is another one of her hobbies.