Tiny Bus House

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We took a 2001 Ford E450 Bluebird Microbus and made it into a tiny little home so we could travel around the country and take our dogs with us. See the entire tour here: https://youtu.be/xGoVrEisUak

Step 1: First Things First, Get Your Layout Down.

This one is a big deal. The first thing you want to do is add your layout to see what kind of space you are working with. We started with the bedframe, and from there, we used masking tape to see what kind of space we had from there. Using masking tape is a great way to see how big everything will be before actually building it.

Step 2: Build From the Back-forward

Start building from the back to front. You dont want to be having to carry your materials over everything in the front, so start at the back. We started with our bed frame and electrical area and water tank. As you can see in this picture, our electrical area is on the left and the water tank is on the right.

Step 3: Start Adding Walls!

Start adding walls. The big thing to consider here is what material and thickness to use. We have seen a lot of people us 2x2's for walls, but we opted for more rigidity and strength in our walls and decided to go with a standard 2x4. The overall savings of 2" on one side and 4" on the other by using 2x2's instead of 2x4's wasn't nearly the justification compared the the added strength we get by regular stud walls.

Step 4: Finishing Walls and Moving Forward

You will need to select a finish for your walls. We selected pine car siding. It was cheap and thin at the local box store and looks beautiful. We added our normal house wiring as we build the walls and ran it all back to the area under the bed that we designated for electric. Next, moving towards the front of the bus, we added a composting toilet. It uses a 5-gallon bucket and sawdust, so no need for a black water tank.

Step 5: Moving Forward Again, Building a Storage Area/end Table

We added a little end table on one side where our couch was going to go so we would have somewhere to set drinks and also add a little storage area

Step 6: Making of a Kitchen

On the other side of the bus, we started building our kitchen. The sink is re purposed (we actually found it in a trash pile in the woods). We under mounted the sink, and then built the cabinet ourselves. We couldn't find a pre-made cabinet setup the size that we wanted, so this was the easiest option.

Step 7: Make a Couch...or a Bed...or BOTH

We made this simple couch bed contraption after seeing some others online. You can see the way it works by watching the video.

Step 8: Add Your Electricity

This shows our electricity setup. We have a Renogy 400w solar system powering a 3000/6000w inverter and (2) 200AH AGM Batteries. These all run into a transfer switch that allows us to run off of a generator or shore power if we cant use the batteries.

Step 9: Adding the Bed Once Everything in the Back Is Done

We waited till the very end to add the mattress so we didn't tear it up. This is an 8" memory foam mattress off Amazon. They are pretty inexpensive, come in a small but heavy box, and are super easy to get into the bus compared to a regular mattress. Then open the bag and let it expand!

Step 10: Add the Finishing Touches, Paint, and Get Ready to Explore!

Painting was probably the worst part for us because there was so many little things to paint here and there, but it has to be done! Everything inside our bus is made from either hardwood or hardwood plywood. There is no particle board in the entire bus. Everything is solid. We just got back from taking it through the mountains of Colorado and didn't have to hook up to power or water once in our week long trip. It is a fully self sufficient vehicle and we couldn't love it more.

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    28 Discussions

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    markgrogan

    22 days ago on Introduction

    I am really amazed at how practical a tiny home could be and this project is no exception! To think that space constraint isn't going to bring you down or hinder your efforts at all! You did your best in utilizing every inch of storage you could find in there and the end results proved your hardwork!

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    Tura Street

    2 months ago

    This looks great. I love the bed ideas, and everything that you added to make it a home. Thank you so much for sharing and also welcome to instructables.

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    Felix_H

    2 months ago

    Awesome! Great job, voted for you!

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    Novesky2

    3 months ago

    This absolutely amazing! I'll definitely vote for you:) I especially love how it seems more like a house on wheels without seeming like a camper while also being a bit discreet and unexpected like a converted van.

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    krashe1313

    3 months ago

    Amazing. This is getting a vote for the contest and a favorite

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    JonS217krashe1313

    Answer 3 months ago

    We've only taken it on one big trip, from Arkansas to Colorado. The best we got was 13mpg, the worst was 9mpg, but we spent a week on the road and camping and the entire cost for a week was $500 for fuel and $9 for one taco bell pit stop...lol

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    JeffMustache

    3 months ago

    Oh, please let this be a normal field trip?
    With the Friz? No WAY!!

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    Jrdztech

    3 months ago

    Hello, this is a very nice project, very interesting for me, any way that you can give us an overall expense point?
    Also, Do you have an idea of how much weight are you carrying when on the road? I'll be worried about the weight, I know every USA states have different regulations, I know here in Texas certain weigh limits requieres the driver to have a commercial license.
    Other than that, congratulations to you and your wife for a great project.

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    JonS217Jrdztech

    Reply 3 months ago

    Our total cost including the cost of the bus was around $11,000. We did it all completely ourselves, so there was no labor obviously, but it took us 3 months of working almost every night after work to do it. As far as weight is concerned, the GVWR of our bus is 14,000lbs i believe, but i would say we are probably only pushing around 9-10,000lbs around, but i haven't weighed it.

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    pmowers

    Question 3 months ago

    Great job. I am going to have to steal, errh, borrow some of your ideas for my CTC. I understand not needing a black water tank because of the composting toilet, but you said that you did not have a grey water tank, how is the sink plumbed? Also do you have any pictures looking toward the front of the bus, showing driver and passenger seating (if any).

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    JonS217pmowers

    Answer 3 months ago

    I apologize! That is a typo, and i have corrected it! We do have a small 15 gallon grey water tank mounted under the bus directly under the sink. I dont have any pictures handy, but you can get a better idea of what it looks like from the back-forward in this video: https://youtu.be/xGoVrEisUak

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    JonS217gersec

    Answer 3 months ago

    The passenger sits on the couch in our bus. The seat belt laws vary from state to state, but in our state, only the front passengers are required to wear seat belts, where there are some states that require all passengers to wear seatbelts.

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    Wickedshifts

    Question 3 months ago on Introduction

    Awesome instructable, very informative and neat idea! I do have one question though, perhaps I over looked it, and you don't have to answer if you don't want to. But about how much did the entire project cost, including the bus price, batteries, lumber etc.?

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    JonS217Wickedshifts

    Answer 3 months ago

    We paid $4850 for the bus and put about $6000 into it including everything from fixing a few things with the engine to solar, all inclusive with lumber and materials. So we have right around $11,000 in it total.

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    RecycleBot

    3 months ago

    Pretty Nice! and very efficient use of space. esp., love your sofa-pullout bed design.

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    jessyratfink

    3 months ago

    I love everything about this!! The tiny kitchen nook is wonderful and the pine siding looks SO GOOD. :D

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    jasongullickson

    3 months ago

    I adore this build and could totally see doing something like this.

    If you have any additional photos or videos (would love to see it on the road!) please share :)


    Thanks!