Converting your Skoolie to a livable home requires a ton of planning. I have built everything from short Skoolies to full-sized bus conversions. One of the key factors when converting one is space.
The key to converting your dream home is to utilize every bit of it for storage. Where smaller sprinter vans have to take weight into account, a short skoolie has more than enough capacity to house all your living criteria. If you take into account the weight of all the chairs, the floor sheathing, and the (rather heavy) wheelchair lift, then factor in the average weight of 30 individuals weighing between 80-100 pounds, you come out with at least 3,500 pounds relieved from the vehicle. In my experience, my living accommodations, plus myself come out to less than 500 pounds.
Measuring out the floor
Once you have the seats ripped out (and the wheelchair lift) you will have a full understanding of how much space you are working with. Fortunately, once you have removed everything, you will find that there is A LOT of space. The typical short “skoolie” has an area of about 45 feet by 7 feet. From here you can start to plan out your dream house.
Where to Adequately Find Storage
Using camper vans as a good reference, you will find that every part of the van utilizes space. Under the bed for storage, under the sink, even using racks for the ceiling can come in handy to proportionally disperse your living quarters. One of the most fun parts of building our bus was finding where we would install the solar battery packs. We found that using military-grade batteries (6 to be exact) gave us all the power we needed. It may have taken up more space than what we had hoped for, but it was worth it during the festival season. For this, we simply installed them (and secure them) under the bed.
We left a space between the bed and the “couch” for a set of shelves. It was approximate 1.5 feet wide. and had more shelving than we thought we needed. This held all of our clothes and toiletries. We kept the seat belts from the seats we ripped out and fastened them into the shelves to secure the clothes. If we were to brake too quickly, everything inside the bus would be secure.
The Skoolie Bed
Everyone has their own preference for the size of their bed. If you are traveling solo then a twin size will save you TONS of space. If you have an extra person with you, then you might want to bump up the mattress size to a full. Going past a queen really limits your living quarters and chances are, you won’t be building this to house more than two persons. We kept our full-sized mattress in the back of the bus running alongside the emergency exit. This was comfortable and space underneath was plenty for the batteries and a section for extra clothes storage.
We installed a very small sink into our bus. It wasn’t pretty by any means, but it was clean and it got the job done. The counter was approximately 3 feet wide and we kept it ono the adjacent side to the clothes shelf and the couch. Underneath was where we kept the mini-fridge. There was an extra foot next to the fridge where we installed the spice rack. We felt that we didn’t need a grill or oven on our bus, so we simply used a George Foreman grill and kept it at that.
The Skoolie Couch
Last but certainly not least, we put a small “couch” on the side with the clothing shelf. This was more of an installed wood platform that we threw a futon mattress on, but it did the job. This provided space if someone wanted to crash on the bus, or if it was raining during a festival.
The Final Result
Overall, when the bus was first built, it wasn’t pretty. It was barebones but livable. Full conversion will take longer than you think, and depending on your funds (which more bloggers apparently have limitless money) this will be an endless work in progress. Don’t be afraid though, many do it this way and will continue to do it. This is your home and every home is a work in progress.