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Students Convert Short Bus into 160 Sq. Ft. DIY Motorhome (For Sale)

This 1988 Ford Econoline 350 Short Bus Conversion is a guest post by Lacey Leonard (Update: Asking Price Lowered)

My name is Lacey Leonard and I am an undergraduate Sculpture Student. This was my tiny house project and I am very excited to share it with you!

The bus is a 1988 Ford Econoline 350 with Short Thomas Bus Chassis. This bus was an undergraduate research project in sustainability, mid-century design, and woodworking. The entire interior is hand built with Virginia barn wood dating 150 years back (some of the pieces go back even further).

The project took about one year to complete and was a collaboration between art students. We designed and executed the bus to be functional and ergonomically through mid-century design. The bus is completely off-grid but has room for personal modifications.

There is a composting toilet, fold out kitchen counter, stainless steel protected space for heat source, AC unit, tiny closet, bench storage, sink, and red oak wood floor.

The wood used in the bus is red oak, white oak, chestnut, poplar, pine, birch, walnut, and red wood.

Students Convert Short Bus into 160 Sq. Ft. DIY Motorhome (For Sale)


Images © Lacey Leonard


Related: Adventurous Couple’s DIY School Bus Motorhome













Images © Lacey Leonard

For Sale

I am asking $23,500.00 $15,000 for the bus. Interested buyers can contact me through email at [email protected]

Video: Students Convert Short Bus to DIY Motorhome

Our big thanks to Lacey Leonard for sharing with us!

You can send this short school bus conversion story to your friends for free using the social media and e-mail share buttons below. Thanks!

If you enjoyed this short school bus conversion you’ll absolutely LOVE our Free Daily Tiny House Newsletter with even more! Thank you! 

Related: Meet Kelly Patton the Traveling Artist and Tiny Dweller

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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!

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{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Carol Perry September 28, 2015, 10:51 pm

    Wow! You guys did a great job converting this bus into a motorhome . What a clever idea! This would be great to use if you wanted to travel across the country.

    Hopefully you will get the price your asking. Good Luck!! Carol

  • jo chanin September 29, 2015, 7:57 am


  • Sandra September 29, 2015, 12:47 pm

    I love all the flowery prose in the description, but this is pretty much a very simple bus conversion. Not special, beyond the fact that’s it’s a school project. I too would have done a lot more research. Live and learn.

    • Michael L May 24, 2017, 11:12 pm

      So please, show us your project, Sandra. I’m sure there are many who would love to see how well all of your research turned out!

      • Sandra May 25, 2017, 12:48 pm

        Sure. Mine is featured in Tiny House Talk under the byline “could you live in this tiny designer inspired home”
        Btw. Not a designer.
        And my comment was pretty benign. The outside was neat, inside was not that great.
        A lot of people commented on mine. Some positive and others negative. Didn’t bother me at all

  • Marsha Cowan September 29, 2015, 3:12 pm

    It’s a beautiful and cleverly done tiny bus. It About the same size as mine, 71/2 feet wide and 10 long feet up to the back of the driver’s seat. That makes about 75 square feet of living space, so they must be including the area from the back of the driver’s seat to the front of the hood. No matter, beautifully done!

  • Sharee September 29, 2015, 4:09 pm

    What class driver’s license (CA) do you need to drive this shuttle bus?

  • Lisa Marie September 29, 2015, 4:18 pm

    I really hesitate to read the comments on this site anymore! So many people seem to be experts on the tiny house movement now that they feel free to criticize as if they have ever actually done anything like build a tiny house or convert a bus. Compound the criticism with a heavy hand that they would never use face to face or on a friend or loved one, and we end up with a bunch of looky Lou’s with a ‘tude that makes me glad I don’t know them.

    Having personally converted a bus that I live in full time, I appreciate the not inconsequential effort that it requires to conceive and implement, much less finish, a project of this scale. I would wager that these UNDERGRADUATE students (where someone came up with publicly funded is beyond me), learned a lot about communication, sourcing of materials, problem solving, and plain old hard work. So it’s pretty basic! Mid-century homes, and thus the reflected design of this bus, weren’t fancy schmancy or high tech, and thus much more bells and whistles would have been out of keeping with the scope of their project. Cost? You don’t know the value of something til you build it yourself. I see a lot of exclamations regarding price on this site, but none of them seem to be from folks already living tiny or who have walked (and screwed and cut and drilled and carried and heaved) that road. $28K for a year’s work from one person (much less a few) is getting pretty cheap unless you support a slave labor market!

    Stop channeling the jerk judges on your favorite who-wants-to-get-reamed tv show. Somebody’s son/daughter or mother/father poured a lot of time, love, blood, sweat and tears into every one of the
    houses you see on this site.

    Don’t like what you see? Get off your duff and go out and build one yourself! Make sure to submit what you accomplish so that others (who view these articles for something besides a box upon which to stand) can gain inspiration and learn from your mistakes.

    Have a beautiful day!

    • Deb September 30, 2015, 10:31 am

      Hello, how are you. Having a small place would be fun …I have read part of you writings and thrills me to know people have great ideas. I personally come up with this idea the other day. Take a small bus and turn it into a cape cod home on wheels. I think it is a cool idea. So many pluses ….but one would get countless looks. Driving down the e-way in a cape cod bus funny………
      I am learning how to make chicken wire furniture this is fun and I would of course use my same ideas in the bus. The cape cod roof would hold my bed and for storage …
      Hey have fun with your new idea of a home. [email protected] if you you feel like writing .
      Keep warm, DEB

    • Paul October 27, 2015, 9:22 am

      Indeed there are way more critics in the world than there are doers.

    • Michael L May 24, 2017, 11:19 pm

      Thank you Lisa! I love this newsletter, but find so many of the comments frustrating and rude. Thanks for sharing your observations.

    • David October 1, 2017, 6:42 am

      Hi Lisa,

      Great Post!!!, First paragraph, this stirred me up so before I read the rest of your post so I went off on a bit of a rant but come back and edited this and it is exactly why I read but don’t make any comments.

      I am just so happy for the owners of these “Tiny Homes”. Its what they want!!!

      They seam to be so heavily criticized by people who just sit on the fence!!!

      If they don’t like the colors its painted, the style of the doors or the color of the curtains, TOUGH. Build YOUR home the way YOU want it and be happy for the owners of these TINY HOMES!!!

      These people are happy to invite us into “THERE HOMES and THERE STYLE” and its great for ideas!!!


      Regards David

  • Susan September 29, 2015, 4:51 pm

    Hi Lacey. love your little bus. also love the banjo music you used in the background. is there any way I can get that banjo music?

  • Vicky White September 30, 2015, 12:56 am

    Hi Lacy,
    Love your little bus. Anyone who actually starts….. and finishes a creative project of any kind has achieved a lot and more than anyone who has just talked about something, never started, or not finished. It takes guts. Good on you! I’m living in a bus and traveling around NZ – I can only imagine the amount of work that went into building my bus so I could live in it. Congratulations.

  • Marion September 30, 2015, 6:12 am

    I just love to look at these tiny houses. Put it behind you whene people are rude. I am 80yrs young and believe me if I were younger I would be on the project .Great looking tiny houses and keep it up. If nothing else you can intertainment me with the photos and stories. God love you Marion

    • Michele in CA September 30, 2017, 9:35 am

      I too wish I were young enough to do this. Arthritis keeps me from this type of heavy physical labor, otherwise I’d give it a try. I often wish tiny homes were a thing when I was in college. I would have gone for it for sure.

      I love seeing the creativity put into each personal bus and van conversion. People design what works for them. Most people who live in them learn over time what they’d do differently and what they’d keep the same.

  • Deb September 30, 2015, 10:23 am

    Hey ,what great idea. Turning a small school bus into a home. I would change the roof line into a cape cod. Just to have more room I would put the bed up their ….If anyone is interested in this idea befun to chat away.
    [email protected] shoot me a email and lets chat way.
    “Can’t wait for some grand Ideas.s ” LOL

  • Stacy October 1, 2015, 1:03 pm

    To Lisa Marie: I have been reading Alex’s posts for about 6 months. I am learning so much. Sometimes I don’t like what I see and sometimes I love it. I have been formulating a comment such as yours for almost as long as I’ve been reading these. You said it beautifully. What’s wrong with these people? Not everything will be for everyone. Even the projects, I’m not crazy about, I can respect and admire the effort and most times will find at least one thing I didn’t know or an idea I hadn’t thought of. I just have one more comment to those who have nothing better to do..FIND A SITE THAT WILL APPRECIATE YOUR NEGATIVE, UNEDUCATED, NARROW MINDED DIATRIBE THAT TAKES UP SPACE IN THIS BLOG. ps. Thanks Alex. It can’t be easy finding so many different projects to show us as often as you do.

    • Comet October 25, 2015, 8:36 pm

      LOL yeah–some of these haters might be better off on RedState or Breitbart. Narrow minded as they are they would fit right in over there.

      Altho there are things I like and don’t like on almost all of these articles I hope that for most of them I have kept hate out of it! IF I see something really out there–I will say something (esp if it is about an accessibility issue) but I try and keep it factual and upbeat.

      I find it kinda hard on this one to get excited but this is mostly the decor. I had high hopes but my “vision” of what could be done in this space with the items on hand seem to be very different-and that is fine! Would I have done things differently? Yup. But–it’s NOT my project!

      I am kinda concerned if it is TRUE that these comments are being edited—IF this IS the case I would like to know and will stop leaving comments. I don’t want some one cutting and pasting my words to fit their ideas of what I said. Spelling and grammar–that’s one thing; censorship is a different matter entirely.

  • justagirl October 25, 2015, 3:49 pm

    I’m not seeing the mid-century interior – am I missing something?

  • Krys October 25, 2015, 5:07 pm

    I applaud the thought and effort that was put into this idea. Unfortunately, it looks dreadful. poor taste, poor quality, poor design, and it appears to have used materials that came from a junkyard.

  • Sherry F. October 26, 2015, 2:05 pm

    Thank you Lisa Marie. I found this little bus to be cute and functional, without all the extra fluff I neither need or want. I so appreciate all the planning, hard work and time that went into this project. I was truly enjoying this article until I read some of the negative comments.

  • Blake September 29, 2017, 4:11 pm

    A huge high five to undergrad students for bravely taking on a project of this magnitude. Would love to do something similar but have to remind myself that single pane windows and sparse insulation would become rather uncomfortable in the midst of a Canadian winter. So alas more is involved in repurposing a vehicle for full time living here. Love the creativity and originality of the many creations on this site. Hats off to all of you brace enough to dive in and do it for real.

  • Barb September 30, 2017, 9:49 pm

    I like it. You did good. If I had the cash right now, I would purchase it. If it runs. I think its like what I want to start. Just add my own personnal touches. I plan to make my own next spring. Thanks for showing me to try.

  • Toni Benton December 7, 2017, 5:51 pm

    If I only had the money…100+ year old barn wood?! *Drool*

  • Danielle DiLisio January 29, 2018, 10:21 pm

    To Comet: Please do not stereotype Conservatives as narrow minded and interested in Breitbart, or Redstate. And please do not bring politics to the table here. As to this bus it should be appreciated for the hard work that was put into it. It may not be for everyone, but to someone out there it is perfect. These tiny’s are like art and should be appreciated as such.

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