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4×4 School Bus Tiny House Conversion: Short Bus to Tiny Home

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This 4×4 School Bus Tiny House Conversion is a guest post by Brock Butterfield of Bus Life Adventure

Being a subscriber to Tiny House Newsletter it is an honor to be able to share my project of converting a 4×4 short school bus into a Tiny Home on the move.

The idea first came to me last winter as I was sleeping in my truck. Cold, cramped and no good way to dry out my snowboarding gear, I started thinking about how I could have a little more wiggle room without the cost of an expensive RV.

A short school bus came to mind and I learned that a handful out there are 4×4. After many nights of research I found the bus I was looking for. A 2001 GMC Savana chassis with Corbeil bus top and a 6.4 Turbo Diesel motor. The bus was located in Albany, NY and we flew out to drive it back to UT taking only old highways and side roads while documenting the whole thing.

My summer and fall has been consumed with removing all the bus seats, chopping the back four feet off and reattaching, welding a deck on the back for two snowmobiles and converting the inside to a cozy 76 sq. ft. living quarter.

The inside is complete with a bathroom, kitchen, dining area that converts to a bed system that will sleep four, clothes closet, nook and plenty of space to store everything one would need to live simple. Most of the walls are recycled pallet wood that I sanded and applied a clear coat to.

76 Sq. Ft. 4×4 School Bus Tiny House Conversion


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There is a small wood burning stove, Grape Solar fridge, Luggable Loo for the toilet, Basecamp Companion for the shower and hot water faucet for tea, coffee or washing dishes. I also used a small propane two burner stove from Basecamp for the kitchen. Power is provided by two Grape Solar 150 watt panels which recharge the deep cycle battery with a Grape Solar charge controller. For backup heat I’m using a Mr. Heater Buddy which comes in handy when it’s too cold in the morning to get out of my sleeping bag and attempt to start a fire.

Cushions for the bed are memory foam that I took from a bed top, cut into sections and had an upholsterer finish. The nook in the front of the bus has a removable passenger seat for when traveling and is one of my favorite designs of the interior.

The “fun deck” on the back of the bus can be used for many things but it’s primary purpose is for two snowmobiles for traveling deep into the wilderness to film for snowboarding. The storage compartments underneath the deck store my propane, backup generator, wood, tools, ramps for loading the sleds, snowboards and anything else I may need. A Yakima Sky Box Pro sits on top the bus for additional storage.

I started this project for two reasons. First, to stop paying rent for one full year and put the money towards buying a small piece of land to build my first Tiny Home on. Second, to film a documentary based on the converting the bus into a Tiny Home, living in it for a full year and the challenges that come with it. I’ll also be living with three other guys during the winter months to film six web episodes of us living in 76 sq. ft. and chasing snow storms.

We needed a little help to finish the documentary and just launched our Kickstarter. The money raised will go towards our film budget, music rights, editing and producing the documentary for the public by fall 2015.

If you are in the spirit of giving this time of the year, we could use the help. A couple dollars go a long way and we also worked with our sponsors to help provide great rewards for those that can back the project.

Thank you Alex for the opportunity to share my home, our project and a unique story. If you see us on the road feel free to come check out the bus!

Learn more and help the BLA Crew (and get some pretty darn awesome goodies in exchange for doing so) at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/183247780/life-in-the-bus-lane


=> Support this Bus Tiny House Project on Kickstarter and you can get some awesome goodies (including the documentary) in return!

Our biggest thanks to the BLA Crew for sharing their 4×4 short bus tiny home with us along with their entire adventure!

You can help us spread the word on this inspiring story by “Liking” on Facebook using the button below and re-sharing this story using the e-mail and social media re-share buttons below. Every share helps inspire people towards simple living, including yours. Thank you so much.

If you enjoyed this 4×4 short bus tiny house conversion and adventure you’ll absolutely LOVE joining our Free Daily Tiny House Newsletter with even more! Thank you!

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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!
{ 35 comments… add one }
  • Liz
    December 4, 2014, 10:06 am

    Pretty cool for a little bus. And it even has a shower and bathroom. This guy really has it going!!

  • tb
    December 4, 2014, 10:14 am

    Awesome Bus man!

  • Marcy
    December 4, 2014, 10:45 am

    Nice job – attractive and good use of space. I have a 1973 Chevy camping van and this reminds me of it quite a bit.

  • Jim Bullock
    December 4, 2014, 11:07 am

    Makes me want to run away

  • Karen
    December 4, 2014, 11:39 am

    Well planned!

  • Comet
    December 4, 2014, 11:56 am

    Some one above made a comment about the axle weight and how the bus was made—

    I am not an engineer but I live 45 miles away from where this bus came from and see these on our local roads all the time. Most of them have what looks like an insane over hang behind those rear axles—it is possible–I haven’t seen the build video—that this is what he refered to when he said he took out seats and re-worked the rear end—there may have been about the same amount of overhang but with the bus cab on top as there is now. IF there were extra steel added to the framing this could also make for a better weight set up for hauling two sleds. I am not a snow person but I see snow mobiles here allll the time on very light weight trailers or in the backs of pick up trucks so they cannot weigh that much. I have also seen people move them by hand and not with a great amount of effort. So I don’t think there is a huge amount of weight back there from the sleds.

    If it was ME building this–and we are looking to build a Toy Hauler for our motorcycle–I would have my son the actual engineer spec out the weights etc. For all we know this is what the builder did.

  • Jack Palmer
    December 4, 2014, 12:51 pm

    Nice interior and layout. I am surprised that it’s even street legal with that huge overhang off the back. Looks like it’s made from steel, with two snowmobiles, firewood,propane and generator, it’s has to be heavy. All that weight has to be taking weight off the front end and affecting the steering. Simply doesn’t look safe.

  • LK
    December 4, 2014, 1:04 pm

    I hope that the builder will take note of safety issues if he did not before. Otherwise it reminds me of a smaller version of the bus that I lived on full time for more than a year. Not everyone is looking for cute – some are looking for a safe place to stay while exploring the outdoors. That is what I did, plus some writing and reading.
    Enjoy it, guys. I know that I did and now I have very fond memories to look back on.

  • Beth
    December 4, 2014, 1:06 pm

    The inside is brilliant!!!

  • Michael
    December 4, 2014, 2:42 pm

    This vehicle is totally unsafe. Any vehicle with a wheelbase that is less than 55% of the overall length is considered unstable. Some manufactured RVs are at this limit and are not very stable especially in crosswinds.

    I’ve driven a bus with a fifteen foot rear overhang from the center of the rear axle. It was OK because the overall length was forty-one feet and it was a transit bus with more weight over the front wheels. I wouldn’t want to ride in this thing at speeds over twenty-five miles per hour.

  • Kat
    December 4, 2014, 6:25 pm

    That is a slick transformation….super sweet… Talk about custom for your purpose. I’m a huge fan of the bus conversions, and always wanted a lil bus, and yes, will live up with the jokes of “short bus”…but yours is no joke. IMPRESSED to say the least! Best to you on your journey….(more power to you seeking that powder snow!)

  • Dug
    December 6, 2014, 11:00 am

    All I would add is it’s pretty cramped looking for two never mind four, with safety in mind I.e using propane, storing propane, along with a wood burner etc etc and all that goes with that, I personally wouldn’t like to be the last person attempting to get out in an emergency situation ??
    That’s before all the body/chassis concerns from others more in the know on these issues than I, in our bid to build bespoke, to our spec vehicles and homes we MUST NOT forget safety and security for the users and the innocent by-standards in our design and final builds.
    I don’t know about the US where this was built and it seems Is being used but in the UK where I live I think it would require at least single vehicle type approval and with the overhang it’s not likely it would get it, and for the reasons I stated above it would most likely fail basic motorhome approval I find it strange the difference in relative laws and acts surrounding the same thing state by state of likewise country by country and remain fascinated if not saddened at what some view as “safe”
    Power to ALL self build projects but please guys lets keep them safe ……. at ALL times regardless

  • December 6, 2014, 4:52 pm

    I, for one, definitely admire his dedication. Also, added props for finding a spot for his snow mobile. Certainly can’t leave home without that. 🙂

  • William E. McCallister
    January 21, 2015, 3:32 pm

    That’s alot of rear weight on that overhang.

    • January 22, 2015, 12:38 pm

      I have to agree. Beautiful concept and execution, though. Love the message on that stop sign.

  • Craig
    January 21, 2015, 9:22 pm

    Totally awesome!! I could see myself in something like this… Great design, well thought out.

  • Maria
    June 18, 2015, 12:49 pm

    I actually thought of making a bus into a tiny home lol. But Bering on disability it would be hard as I have no skills with tools or wood, but I’m not giving up.

    • Sarah
      June 19, 2015, 3:55 pm

      Good for you Maria! I’m handicapped too, and although these ladders to me that you see in some tiny homes look really narrow and rickety even for an unhandicapped person, I still dream about living in one.

    • Maria
      June 19, 2015, 4:11 pm

      Sarah, I’m thinking of getting one of those Amish garden sheds, lots of the deluxe lofted barns can be fitted with regular stairs and a banister, I’m looking at a 14×36 in size, but I’d really like one mobile.

  • aprill
    June 18, 2015, 1:54 pm

    I love this bus! I was watching an episode of fast and loud one night and they had bought one of these small buses. I was thinking how cool it would be to convert it into a camper and wondering if it would be big enough. Apparently, it would definitely be big enough. What a great layout this has.

    I am curious about the safety factor of the wood burning stove in such a tight space that is finished off in wood.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • June 18, 2015, 4:16 pm

      I agree, I’m not so sure about a wood burning stove. Otherwise it’s great!

  • Joni
    June 18, 2015, 4:59 pm


    I live in a bus just this size that is a tiny house! I have been in it full time for a year on the 27th of this July/15 as that is plate renewal day.

    I been living in (slept on the floor day 1)/working on converting (from bare box to yay the sink works!)/travelling with (10,000+ miles) this bus alone with my 3.5lb dog and WOW what a year!

    I am doing this all solo with only my solar power and 95% (I did buy a bunch of new hardware – I like my screws sharp!) of my materials used to build have been repurposed from other stuff – like the roll top desk that is the centerpiece of my kitchen.

    Mine is not a 4X4 although we do go places regular rvs fear to tread!!

    On my back end I have a simple motorcycle rail carrier for my 50cc scooter that is my alternate transport.

    Bus life is awesome!!

    • Ynot
      June 19, 2015, 9:10 am

      I would love to see pictures!! My next project is a school bus conversion, and I could always use fresh idea.

    • Joni
      June 19, 2015, 2:12 pm

      I will be happy to post some pics once I get cleaned up from this last round of renovations…right now it is a mess!!

      Since it was last September I wonder how this 4X4 made out over winter? I am kind of wondering what he needed kickstarter funding for…seems like his dreams weren’t so much tiny house on his land as fame & some fortune along the way.

      Each to their own…I hope it worked out! Guess we will have to wait for the “documentary” to find out how things went.

  • Mr. Lonnie
    June 18, 2015, 7:28 pm

    Great job, Mr. Butterfield!
    Beautiful piece of work!

  • Patricia Schneider
    June 19, 2015, 12:12 am

    I must ask one question. How in the world are you going to sleep 4 big guys in that bus at the same time????

  • Theo
    August 28, 2015, 11:14 pm

    The woodwork inside looks good. I would not have shortened an already short bus tho, I’d have opted for a trailer. Major points for an indoor loo, he has obviously used an outdoor toilet in winter. I would have gone for propane heat tho.

  • Julie J.
    August 28, 2015, 11:15 pm

    It’s just lovely 🙂

  • John Brennan
    August 29, 2015, 11:20 pm

    Very nice.

    As for the overhang being legal it has tail and turn signals on it so form that stand point it is all set. The only thing is maybe a flag might be needed on the sled when it is loaded since it hangs over, similar to when you haul lumber.

    As for the weight and balance it is tough to tell from the pictures. I would suggest taking it to a scale loaded. Weight the whole thing then one axle at a time and see how a) it balances out and b) where you are at with respect to the capacity of the axles & tires. And as someone pointed out they may have already looked at this.

    As for gas and wood stove lots of people have a wood-stove in their kitchen with a gas range. You have to give any fuel healthy respect and know what you are doing. If you don’t already have them smoke, CO, and low O2 detectors would be high on the list of things to get.

    For anyone considering something similar I have seen buses on a commercial chassis like a full length one but only about half as long. You could easily take off part of the body and have a deck on what is left of the original frame rails. A lot less to worry about balance wise and being on a large chassis weight is not much of a concern.

    I love the license plate wall/heat shield, very cool.

    I have dreams of building a house on a full size bus and converting it to 4 wheel drive as well as 4 wheel steering, plus having a trailer hitch mounted just behind the rear axle the way most European commercial trucks have so that the trailer with the jeep and work shop tracks behind the bus around corners and also is stable in cross winds.

    I look forward to seeing your films this fall.

    Drive safe, ride safe, and best of luck to you.

    Cheers, John.

  • Artie
    January 25, 2016, 7:15 pm

    So I guess if you sit on the rear of that platform, the front axle will go up in the air, the whole bus will tilt and allow for easy unloading of the snowmobiles?

  • Caleb Guffey
    September 13, 2016, 7:19 pm

    Sweet set up! I am planning to build inside a bus and wondering how about temperature. Did you insulate the floor? How well does the bus hold in the wood stove heat?

  • heather mackenzie
    November 19, 2017, 11:35 pm

    I am going to have to have me someone to share my little home with and help to build it for us both…I am very single and looking for someone with itchy feet and , I worked on carnivals for 32 plus years… I am planning on going back out and if you are single and want to live the lifestyle with me…get in touch with me and we can talk…

  • Theresa Perdue
    April 17, 2020, 1:21 am

    This guy did one of the best I’ve seen. I love it. He really seems to have his shit together.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      April 17, 2020, 1:49 pm

      That he does!

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