The Definitive Bus Conversion Guide

(Yet, ever-evolving!)

Every bus conversion/skoolie is a custom creation so there is no exact blueprint for your conversion. Even the order in which you remove and add certain systems to your conversion will depend greatly on your bus style, budget, time, expertise, and personal preference. That being said this is Skoolie Everything’s definitive guide to a bus conversion.

  • Get a Bus


    It goes without saying, but you need a bus for your bus conversion. But deciding on the right bus is a little more tricky. Several factors will determine the right bus for you. These are common places in which to secure your school bus: E-Bay, Craigslist, School District Auctions. You want a bus that is mechanically sound and as free from rust as possible. Then you need to have all of your paperwork in order, insurance, registration, title (key steps are needed to title as an RV.)

  • Tools, Storage, & Preparation

    Proper tools make for the easiest bus conversions and let’s face it, bus conversions aren’t easy. You need to consider where you will park your school bus once you have acquired it; many times city ordinances and HOA’s will not allow you to park much less do the conversion of your skoolie at your home. So it is best to make a plan for this contingency.

    Tools, Storage, & Preparation

  • Demolition - Gutting your bus


    This includes the removal of bus seats, security cameras, air conditioners and perhaps heaters. It can include removal of all flooring, windows, and metal walls and ceiling. As well as removal of excess electrical wiring. Basically, removing whatever you have determined is no longer needed in your new build. Check out our Resources page for more Bus Demolition info.

  • Potential Roof Raise

    This is a point where some conversions add a roof raise. This might be for height limitations of a school bus, extra storage, and living area, or aesthetics. This can be a pricey addition to your skoolie.

    Potential Roof Raise

  • Exterior sealing


    Checking and sealing any leaks in the roof, replacing roof hatches with new ones or replacing with skylights or fans. Painting the roof.

  • Prep the inside

    Repairing and treating any rust damage. Painting with Rustoleum. Put windows back in if needed. Prepare for insulation, place furring strips along walls and ceiling.

    Prep the inside

  • Floor Plan

    It is definitely recommended that you have your floorplan set by this point so that you can plan and install insulation that best works for your build. However, it is likely that you will change your design a few times along the process. This is a good time to decide what type of insulation you will be using. And then to run electrical conduit and furring strips before installation of insulation.

  • Insulation

    There are many options: foam board vs. Spray foam, Batt in roll vs. Original bus insulation, or even Wool. How much insulation is needed of the ceiling, walls, and floor?


  • Bus Framing

    Sub Floor


    Interior walls

  • Bus Electrical

    Layout base on your needs and floor plan. Wiring, Electrical box, Shore power connections,  Solar (optional).

    Bus Electrical

  • Bus Plumbing

    Running pex | Hot water heater | Water tanks | Water pump |Kitchen and shower fixtures | Drains | Flush RV toilet – if not Composting

  • (Optional) Propane Installation

    Hot water heater and stove

    Storage and safety

    (Optional) Propane Installation

  • Build Out

    Interior walls | Bed/bunks | Couch with bed pull out | Kitchen cabinets | Countertop | Ceiling | Flooring | walls and doors | Trim

  • Composting (Dry) Toilet vs Flush Toilet

    Flush Toilet with a black tank


    Commercially available brands, e.g. Nature’s Head / Air Head vs building your own

    Composting (Dry) Toilet vs Flush Toilet

  • Heat & A/C

    Woodstove installation | Propane Furnace |  A/C

  • Deck


  • Understorgage

    Build your own vs purchase pre-made

  • Paint




  • Tires and Tune-up

    Before you take to the road you will want to make sure your skoolie is in tip-top shape mechanically. And have established a good Preventative Maintenance and Regular Servicing Schedule.