The Best Books to Help With Your School Bus Conversion

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A girl reading a book on school bus conversion

Converting a regular old school bus into the “skoolie” of your dreams for camping and traveling is exciting. But you can easily get overwhelmed if you don’t know what you’re doing. The good news is you’re not alone. Thousands of people have been in the same spot, and their collected wisdom is available right at your fingertips.

So flip out that stop sign, get comfortable, and take a closer look at the top choices for school bus conversion books. 

What Is a School Bus Conversion? 

A school bus conversion refers to gutting and remodeling a standard school bus into an RV.

Those who attempt school bus conversions often look for a new way of living on the go or seek an outlet for their creative energy.

Converted school buses, sometimes called “skoolies,” replace those uncomfortable bench seats with couches and other living and sleeping spaces.

They can feature kitchenettes, bathrooms, and more.

When done well, they match the charm of the classic school bus with the conveniences and amenities of RV living. 

How Much Does the Average Skoolie Conversion Cost?

How much a skoolie conversion costs depends greatly on what kind of remodel you have in mind.

In the most basic scenarios, without many high-end features or finishes, a conversion can cost as little as $10,000 to $15,000 when doing much of the work yourself.

More typically, they cost $20,000 to $30,000. Higher-end or luxury remodels can easily exceed this, reaching into the $40,000 range. 

Of course, this doesn’t include the cost of the school bus itself. The price can also vary widely depending on the bus’ condition.

You can find some for as cheap as a few thousand dollars, while others may cost tens of thousands.

However, remember that skimping on an older or high-mileage bus will likely mean more money spent on mechanical repairs down the road. 

The Best Books to Help With Your School Bus Conversion

As skoolies have become more popular, so have resources to help with future conversion projects.

We’ve rounded up our list of the best school bus conversion books that will provide you with invaluable help for your project.

DIY Skoolie Guide: A Step-By-Step Bus Conversion Textbook

Author: Jeff and Missy Miller

Written by experienced school bus conversion team Jeff and Missy Miller, this book offers a perfect walkthrough of every step.

You’ll learn how to pick the best bus for your project, how to plan out your skoolie’s layout and design, and techniques for gutting and rebuilding your rig. 

Various sections cover systems like electrical, plumbing, and heating and cooling. Readers praised the easy-to-understand yet thorough explanations of conversions for beginners and experienced folks. 

Skoolie!: How to Convert a School Bus or Van Into a Tiny Home or Recreational Vehicle

Author: Will Sutherland

“Skoolie!” offers a wide variety of school bus conversion tips, covering everything from planning your layout to selecting proper furniture.

But this book also provides in-depth profiles of current skoolie owners and extensive photos of their rigs.

This can help shed much-needed life on the reality of life in a skoolie and inspire your design.

It’s a valuable combination of crucial building guidance and enjoyable, entertaining reading that’s a must-have for any would-be school bus converter.

Pro Tip: Is a skoolie bus right for you? Before you get to work, here are 7 Reasons to avoid a skoolie bus conversion

Off-Grid Solar Power Simplified: For RVs, Vans, Cabins, Boats, and Tiny Homes

Author: Nick Seghers

Many school bus conversion books include details on how to set up a power system that can allow you to hook into the grid, like typical RVs.

But often these days, RVers and skoolies opt for the clean, renewable, go-anywhere power of solar.

This book is an invaluable resource covering solar power for off-grid uses, which could help keep the lights on in your RV.

You’ll explore solar panels, batteries, inverters, and the other pieces of technology and systems that help make your solar system shine. Reviewers praised Seghers’ writing for breaking down complex topics in the energy space into simple to understand concepts. 

Select and Convert Your Bus Into a Motorhome on a Shoestring

Select and Convert Your Bus into a Motorhome on a Shoestring
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Ben Rosander (Author)

Author: Ben Rosander

This brief but essential book is excellent for understanding the basics of school bus conversions on a tight budget. And it includes how to buy the right bus.

Rosander shows how owners can create the skoolie of their dreams through his 50 years of conversion experience. He shared wisdom drawn from his successes and failures.

The book is also chock full of photos, drawings, conversion plans, and more, making it a perfect visual reference. 

A couple celebrating their finished school bus conversion after reading conversion books before renovating

Since We Woke Up: Lessons from Two Years of Living on a School Bus

Since We Woke Up: Lessons from Two Years of Living on a School Bus
  • McVay, Tawny (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Author: Tawny McVay

Plenty of books can tell you how to convert a bus. But what is it really like living in one day to day, week after week? “Since We Woke Up” tells the story of author Tawny McVay and her husband Mike, who, despite their apparently ideal life, decided to give it all up to live in a skoolie.

It chronicles the ups and downs of skoolie life, providing one of the most honest looks at the lifestyle for potential converters.

You may find yourself so inspired by their story that you’ll have all the motivation to get started.

Tiny House Living: Ideas for Building and Living Well in Less than 400 Square Feet

Author: Ryan Mitchell

A skoolie isn’t exactly a tiny house, but they’re similar in the most important ways. They have a serious lack of elbow room and storage space.

By definition, tiny houses and school bus conversions typically have minimal space. “Tiny House Living” helps you make the most of the area in the design process and daily life. 

You can use included worksheets and exercises to help sharpen and finesse your conversion plans.

And you can read about helpful tips for downsizing your possessions before moving in. 

Keep in Mind: Before living in a skoolie bus or an RV, you’ll need to downsize a few things in your life or put them in storage. Here are our Downsizing Tips for Full-Time RV Living

A finished school bus conversion after reading conversion books before renovating

Is a School Bus Conversion Worth It?

Depending on your taste, skill level, and travel style, a school bus conversion can be the best decision. Or you’ll face a months-long, money-draining nightmare.

Some owners enjoy the process of dramatically overhauling these vehicles and relish the unique style they provide. Some may even make their skoolie their full-time home. 

But remember that even in the cheapest scenarios, you’ll likely spend $10,000 or several times that.

Still, with some dedication and the help of these awesome school bus conversion books, you should have no problem creating the converted school bus of your dreams. 

Last update on 2024-04-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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