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Big Bertha: Family of Five’s School Bus Conversion

Brian and Stella Sullivan used to pay big rent to live in a two-bedroom apartment near Seattle and felt like finances were always tight and they weren’t spending quality time together as a family.


But when Brian got a job offer that would have required a two-hour commute, they ditched the conventional apartment life and created Big Bertha, a solar-powered bus conversion perfect for their family of five.

Freedom. Freedom with our money, our time and our location. [..] The most important thing in life is people, and spending the most time with our family and children was a huge priority. We were not about to sacrifice our family time to work multiple jobs, paying for a lifestyle we didn’t want. [..] Less space, less stuff, less time cleaning, less stress. More time to enjoy life and our children.

This is a video tour of their awesome tiny dwelling.

Related: Jonathan’s Citi Bus Conversion

Big Bertha: Family of Five’s School Bus Conversion

Screenshots via BerthaTV/YouTube


Related: Family’s Calypso Skoolie Bus Conversion

Screenshots via BerthaTV/YouTube

Video: Tiny House School Bus Conversion: Take a Tour!

Highlights: 

  • Mud room and office at front of bus
  • Galley design
  • Under-couch storage
  • Full-sized couch beds
  • Refrigerator
  • Oven-microwave-toaster
  • Composting toilet
  • Washing machine
  • Shower
  • Bunk beds for kids
  • 1996 Blue Bird (cost $2,800)
  • Renovations (cost $25,000)
  • Registered RV
  • Read more on their blog

Resources: 

Related: Father/Son’s Big Blue Bus Conversion Project

Our big thanks to Sharon for sharing!

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributing writer for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She is a coffee-loving wannabe homesteader who dreams of becoming self-sufficient in her own tiny home someday. Natalie currently resides in a tiny apartment with her husband, Casey, in Massachusetts.




{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Carol Perry January 24, 2017, 10:45 am

    Wow! Their school bus home is amazing! What great ideas they have for their storage of clothing and accessories! They have a place for everything and everything has a place! It’s nice the children have a special area where they can get their toys and have a place to play! I really enjoyed the video! Thanks for sharing!?

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie January 25, 2017, 8:49 am

      Haha my mother loved that saying, “There is a place for everything…” 🙂 I think in a tiny space, there HAS to be!

  • kim January 24, 2017, 11:33 am

    This is really very nice. With washer/dryer, wow.

  • Kevin January 24, 2017, 12:43 pm

    Family of 5, that’s nothin 🙂 – here’s a family of six https://youtu.be/YAIBt0g_AzI

  • Allison January 24, 2017, 2:30 pm

    Great job, and so organized! Very Impressive!

  • Rita January 24, 2017, 2:49 pm

    Awesome video! Thanks for sharing! Seems you thought of everything! How clever to have an entry/ mud room. Brilliant! Have a wonderful life with the togetherness you have made possible.. Again thank you for sharing. Oh one question- where did you find a place to park your home?

  • Melissa January 24, 2017, 4:31 pm

    Wow! I would live in this, no problem! Nice job! Do you drive it/move it often? Where do you park it? Lovely home!

  • Nanny M January 24, 2017, 8:35 pm

    Wow. This is wonderfully thought out and comfortable. Very nice job.

  • Annette January 24, 2017, 9:07 pm

    Super nice renovation – so well thought-out. Do you park in one space (urban or rural), or move about?
    Thanks for sharing this – most inspiring.

  • Andrea January 24, 2017, 9:13 pm

    I want one!

  • Andrea January 24, 2017, 9:14 pm

    I LOVE this home, super well done…could definitely live there!

  • ArtisanJosh January 24, 2017, 9:34 pm

    Amazing! I especially like how you have so many areas for the kids to play. And the dehumidifier drying room is genius.
    Great job!

  • Kristin Beavor January 25, 2017, 5:37 am

    I love this!!! Was it easy to find a place to park? Also what type of loan do you apply for to get the money to purchase one and to do the upgrades?

    Thanks for sharing!

  • ZACHARY E MOHRMANN January 25, 2017, 7:39 am

    I like it, it functions well for them and that’s what matters most…! They are surprisingly well organized for a family with 2 toddlers besides.. There is more than ample storage for them and I know how that can be when you have children.. I especially like that they live off grid with battery banks and I am guessing solar panels, to use the interior lighting and all appliances… On demand water heater is a great plus as it cuts down on use of vital floor space which in this case can be at a premium.. And I was surprised to see how well a picture or reception they receive on their television, which is important for the children to be able to see their cartoons, when they are not playing with toys… All in all, a fantastic conversion….!

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie January 25, 2017, 7:56 am

      Loved all the storage — and I think off-grid living is so amazing!

  • Charlie January 25, 2017, 6:41 pm

    Anyone else getting burnt out with multiple “newsletters” a day with repeat tiny houses? I personally would prefer one a week with new houses or ones we haven’t seen in a while.

    • Natalie C. McKee Natalie January 26, 2017, 8:12 am

      Thanks for letting us know, Charlie. I’ll pass this on to Alex for consideration 🙂

      • Bigfoot January 27, 2017, 4:49 pm

        I agree that 2 newsletter posts a day seems a bit much. However, I actually do appreciate the reposts as I never allocate enough free time to check them all out & end up missing many of them. Without the reposts, I’d miss quite a bit. Also, thanks for keeping these posts going! It’s great to see all the wonderfully creative builds happening out there. Even the ones that don’t appeal to me generally have some cool things to take away.

        • Natalie C. McKee Natalie C. McKee January 30, 2017, 7:48 am

          Thank you Bigfoot! I’m glad to hear that and I’ll be sure to pass the news on to Alex 🙂 Glad you like our site!

  • Big Bertha January 29, 2017, 9:21 am

    Hi everyone, thanks for all the compliments and kind words. Just want to set the record straight here, it’s Brian & Starla, and our bus isn’t exclusively solar-powered. While that was (and still is) a goal for our build, currently we’re plugged in to a 50 amp RV hookup. On-grid, we’re at almost a third of the average U.S. home’s monthly energy consumption.

    If there are any unanswered questions about our living situation I’d point you to our FAQ video at https://youtu.be/B1bIoPCkfCA

    Thanks for your interest!

    -Brian

  • ROSEE February 2, 2017, 12:28 pm

    Very, very cozy and roomy for a young family. Beautifully done!

  • N.D. February 16, 2017, 8:54 am

    Wow. You are so well organised. I guess you have to be or you would all go crazy. What a great way to be a family. So much storage space and I agree on the mud room. I have one planned for my tiny house, one so not to drag mud in (of course) and again to stop the hot/cold air exchange and 3 to give a tiny bit more privacy when/if someone comes to the door.

    You really have given me so much food for thought. Thank you for being so generous in sharing your home with us and all the very best for your adventures and making many happy memories together.

  • Marsha Cowan April 1, 2017, 3:20 pm

    Very Nice!! Love the bath and the under the bed storage. The whole place is warm and homey.

    • Marsha Cowan October 6, 2017, 8:34 pm

      Had to comment again because there are more pictures and I see so much I love!. This is a wonderful and beautiful home. I love the storage, the decoration, the tub, just everything. Excellent job!

  • TinyHouseLover April 2, 2017, 2:18 am

    What an amazing home. They’ve thought of everything for their comfort and daily needs. Everything is so organized and homely looking. I really love seeing how happy the kids are. One of my favorites. Thanks for sharing.

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