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She Turned This Short School Bus Into Her ‘Motor-Cottage’

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This is the story of how Marsha Turned This Short School Bus Into Her ‘Motor-Cottage’.

Hi, Alex and Tiny House Newsletter readers, you may not remember me, but you posted an article about my first tiny house called “My Darling”, made with recycled barn wood and a blue door.

Don’t miss other fun tiny house articles like this – join our FREE Tiny House Newsletter for more!

Living Tiny In A Skoolie Short Bus Conversion


Images © Marsha Cowan

I lived in it for 6 months but had to sell it because my car would not pull it. So I built another one called “The Nest”, a tiny 6’x6′ camper with a storage loft. It was green with a stained door. I lived in this one for 7 months, then because I was making plans to work in AZ in a contract position, and would be going back and forth from AZ to NC so much, I sold that tiny house and bought a tiny bus. And I love it! Below are some pics of my bus right after its first coat of paint, rough framing, and the screen windows I installed in the back (none of the side windows would work, so I pushed them all up from the outside and locked them securely, and let them be). I put a screen window in the driver’s side window so I could get the breeze without the bugs until I could take off the bus door and install a wooden door with a screen at the top which I am still working on.

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Images © Marsha Cowan

We have had a lot of rain lately which has slowed down the process. I have been living in this bus on the street in front of my oldest son’s house. I have a composting toilet, 5-gallon water storage bucket underneath the counter, water drain bucket, and solar lights and charger for cell phone and this iPad. Enjoy!

It was originally yellow with lots of stick on daisies and letters; used to belong to a daycare. I love the constant breezes that come through these screens. I have covers that go over them for traveling. Used a lot of plywood and fencing to frame these panels that divided the bus into areas.

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Images © Marsha Cowan

The desk area with my clothes hanging storage underneath one end. You can see one if the solar lights hanging just below the middle of the shelf. I decided to use several smaller solar set ups instead of one large one.

I have a 7.5 watt Nature Power portable charger that does these two lights and charges my phone and iPad. I have a trickle charger for my bus battery so I can plug my DC fan into the cigarette lighter during the day and stay cool, and at night it plugs into a battery pack that uses D cell batteries which I keep charged ahead with a solar charger that charges 3 different sized batteries.

Finally, I have two solar lanterns I use in the “bedroom”, each of which has its own small panel for charging, but they stay charged for weeks as little as I need them. The 71/2 foot sofa is also the very comfortable bed. I actually slept in it and moved around in it in the dark until the curtains went up! But I was able to use my son’s house for bathing and such. When I go to AZ, I will be staying in an RV court with no bathhouse, so I will be taking pan baths again, but that is how I grew up on the farm, so it is old hat for me.

Solar panels rest securely on the dashboard and don’t have to be moved for traveling, in fact, nothing has to be accommodated for traveling. I used that rubbery shelf liner under everything and between dishes, etc., so that nothing moves or turns over during travel. Buckets are bungeed under the cabinets. Even the pictures stay put. You can see the DC fan in this shot. It is held up by a strong magnet and can be moved around.

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Images © Marsha Cowan

I like having two side tables/night stands at the back. The picture is held on by magnets as are other things. I also used Velcro to hold the curtains on the window and suspension rods for the lower curtains. Two of the “pillows” are actually extra blankets and sheets stuffed into a sham for storage. In fact, there is so much storage, I am able to keep all my building tools, cooler, suitcase, tennis racket, books, albums, filing storage, fishing gear, etc., etc., with me all the time. Everything I own is in this tiny bus. It is officially home.

The curtain behind the driver’s seat pulls all the way across and completely blocks the view at night while still leaving a large opening at the top for breezes to draw through. Screen in driver’s window. I keep it in all the time because I can still roll the window up and down. Pots and lids hang under the counter. I have a single burner butane stove which I keep tucked away under the counter when I am not cooking.

At this point, I cook outside, but with all the ventilation I have in this truck now ( I have installed my wooden door with a large screen, too), I should be able to cook some inside on a rainy day. Speaking of rain, I built a metal rain guard “bonnet” over the back windows so it does not get rain inside, and have a removable metal rain guard that fits the curve in the driver’s door that I can put up on rainy days when I am not going anywhere so I can keep the driver’s window open, too.

The kitchen photos were taken in the early morning. The pitcher pump draws from the bucket. I fill the bucket about once every 5 or 6 days. Kitchen with my main foods in the jars. Again, I was still painting windows during some of these photos. The sink drains into a 5-gallon bucket under the sink. I hung curtains on all the bottom cabinets to keep weight down for traveling and gas mileage. I love waking up in this bus!

6/10/15 Update

Hi Alex,
Wow! This past year in Arizona just flew by! I lived in my tiny red bus in a wonderful RV court in Globe the whole time and loved it! About a month ago, I purchased a tent shower and ran a hose to it so I could see if I liked it. Yes! I definitely recommend the tent shower for warm weather. I used a 35′ hose instead of a solar bag because the water got plenty hot in the hose and would warm up every minute as I turned the sprayer on and off, so it worked beautifully for me. When I left the 3rd of this month to go back to North Carolina, I donated the shower to the campground to use in their tent area as I would have plenty showers back home with my kids houses, but I am going to build a portable one in which I can attach a propane heater to set up when I go back.
I did some remodeling (am still doing some) on the tiny bus, so when it is done, I will send some pictures and a short synopsis of what it is like living like a dry camper in an RV court. I loved every minute! I used the port-a-john which was always clean, and until about a month ago when I got the tent shower, bathed in a sink inside the bus, and brought in my water in two blue speckled coffee pots that held a couple of gallons each, so I had plenty of water all the time. My sink emptied into a 5 gallon bucket which I emptied every day, but because I drank a lot of the water, there was seldom more than 3 gallons to empty, and the owner wanted me to empty it into the plants nearby as AZ can get pretty dry. So everything worked beautifully and simply for me and I was able to live on around $300 per month and eat well and buy new clothes periodically as I lost 5 sizes from walking everywhere I went every day! Yes! I went from size 14/16 to 6/8. Yeh!
Gotta’ go now…will send pics later. Thanks!

By the way, Alex, I meant to explain that I take advantage of the port-a-john toilet at my RV court as opposed to using my composting toilet (stays in storage under my counter for emergencies), and that I use a 2 gallon pump type sprayer (like you use with weed killer) in the shower as I can sit it in the sun while I am at work, and have warm water when I get back. On rainy days, I heat water on the butane stovetop. If I need more water, I just sit my coffee pot in the sun, too, and can add it to the sprayer when it gets empty. I really love that outdoor shower! So convenient.

This has been a guest post by Marsha Cowan. Thank you, Marsha, for sharing your lovely and inspiring tiny school bus cottage with us!

Check out Marsha’s Latest Tiny House Build… It’s A Camper She Built On The Back Of Her Pick Up Truck!

Marsha’s Temporary Truck Bed Tiny Home!

=> See the full post right here!

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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!
{ 102 comments… add one }
  • alice h
    September 4, 2014, 12:40 pm

    This is one of the best bus conversions ever. Marsha has the “touch” for making very livable small spaces!

    • bonnie
      September 4, 2014, 1:19 pm

      it is one of the best bus conversions ever! i like it. and i admire her spirit and her get up and go for doing it!

    • Lisa E.
      November 12, 2014, 11:54 am

      I agree. This woman has the Midas touch and is able to make a home out of everything she touches. (She should go into business for herself doing this.; a fully decorated THOW? She’d become famous and sought after!) I’ve seen 3 of her creations and each one is a total winner.
      Bravo! Well done!

  • Bob Maddox
    September 4, 2014, 12:48 pm

    This is one of the nicest bus conversions I have ever seen. It is a perfect size for one person and I could see myself living in it permanently.

  • Kimberly
    September 4, 2014, 1:04 pm

    This bus conversion absolutely delights me. Why is there no Pinterest button so I can save for future reference? I want to downsize in the next 5 years and I’m just beginning to collect ideas.

    • Paul
      September 5, 2014, 1:21 am

      Why don’t you just save the pics to your computer…? send them to Dropbox or similar if you are scared of losing them!

    • Mary J
      December 18, 2014, 4:15 pm

      Hi Kimberly, I save any tiny house favorites by resending the email to myself, deleting Alex’s header and putting in relevant info like
      ‘Red Bus tiny conversion by Marsha’. When it comes into my inbox I save it to ‘tiny house favorites’. I do save quite a few! The new header makes it easy to find.

    • Rose
      June 29, 2015, 7:22 pm

      I have Picasa on my computer. As long as it is open in my task bar, I can just press Print Screen button and it is saved there. Then
      I crop, adjust picture quality etc, and place in a file. In the case of these, the file is labeled RV.

  • Marcy
    September 4, 2014, 2:19 pm

    Marsha, you are a natural! I love this! So great. I like the triangular shapes you used to visually divide the spaces from each other without making it look boxed in and chopped up.

    • Alex
      September 4, 2014, 5:24 pm

      Her work definitely makes her look like a natural!! But I’m sure there’s plenty of practice and experience behind it too 😀 I absolutely loved her conversion. Glad you did too, Marcy!

    • Marcy
      September 7, 2020, 11:50 am

      So nice to see this bus again. It has long been a favorite of mine. I could certainly see taking it and traveling around the country and being the envy of everyone I meet.

  • Dennis Reynolds
    September 4, 2014, 2:27 pm

    This is one of the best looking bus conversions I’ve seen. I love it ! I would add some things. A 12 volt water pump for starters. $70 well spent, run it off the bus battery. And I would HAVE to have some type of shower. A small solar shower left on the hood to heat during the day, and an outdoor enclosure ? And one more thing would be to put an awning on the side so you could roll it out for some shaded outdoor space ?

    • 2BarA
      September 4, 2014, 3:12 pm

      Another of Marsha’s beautiful, artistic, clever creations and the best bus conversion I have ever seen!

      • Alex
        September 4, 2014, 5:20 pm

        One of the very best bus conversions I’ve ever seen too. Marsha is quite amazing.

    • Alex
      September 4, 2014, 5:21 pm

      Great ideas, Dennis, and I agree… one of the best bus conversions I’ve ever seen too

  • Carol
    September 4, 2014, 2:34 pm

    Hi Marsha … you’re a very industrious woman! I am impressed with all 3 of your creations and how you must learn so much each time you build and live in each one. I live in AZ and would love to meet up with you if possible.

    • Alex
      September 4, 2014, 5:21 pm

      Glad you enjoyed and were also impressed by her buildings too, Carol, blessings, alex

  • Comet
    September 4, 2014, 4:45 pm

    How ironic! I JUST came over here after seeing a mini-bus (similar to this) Conversion to RV on CRAIGSLIST ALBANY NY for sale for $4500.

    The owners had done their own work. Claim that if you cruise ar between 55-65 you will get about 14-16 MPG (I think–go look don’t quote me on this!)

    These are very cute but for one person and maybe a dog—for two=-maybe need a bigger bus!

    Does anyone know HOW she did those screens? Would love to know what she used to frame them out and bend or shape them. Thanks!

    • Alex
      September 4, 2014, 4:55 pm

      Comet, here’s how to make custom window screens: http://www.homerepairtutor.com/custom-window-screens/

    • Alex
      September 4, 2014, 5:18 pm

      And if anyone else wants to see the bus conversion that Comet found I’ve posted on it right here: https://tinyhousetalk.com/school-bus-conversion-for-sale/

    • Marsha Cowan
      September 6, 2014, 10:37 pm

      Comet, I didn’t know which screens you were talking about so I just described the back ones. To do the driver’s side window, I just bought a couple of those 8′ long metal screen making strips and, measuring as I went, just bent it with my hand one section at a time until I got all the way around. One piece was too short, so I had to use a short piece from the second strip to finish, and I glued a short flat piece of metal into each end to bind them together, although I should have used pieces several inches long. Then I pushed the screen and little rubber strip in at the same time with a screen roller thingie, can’t remember what it is called. Hope this helps! You can probably improve on it a lot. It was rather primitive 🙂

      • Marcy
        November 23, 2014, 10:19 am

        I have a ’73 Chevy van camper, and I made screens for both the driver and passenger side so that I also could have air without bugs. I didn’t create a form. I took newspaper and traced the window shape. I cut the screens out of screen material and sewed bias tape to the edges to finish it off. Then, I used velcro to attach them to the window. It works pretty well, but I have had the velcro on the van come off. Next time, I will attach snaps.

    • Brett Hays
      March 19, 2015, 10:35 am

      Another super simple way to make window screens for a vehicle door window is to buy some mosquito netting and make a sort of ”sock” or ”bag” out of the net on a sewing machine that slips over the top of the open door that extends down over the window you want to cover. Then close the door and it will be pinched and held in place. The window will actually then be double screened. Some elastic sewen into the opening of the ”sock” will help make an effective bug seal when the screen is installed. You should still be able to use the window controls to operate the opening and closing of the window Each screen will wad up into a ball about the size of a baseball for storage. This style of screen is not meant for use while traveling down the road. super easy to build and use though.

      • Marsha Cowan
        July 2, 2019, 10:49 am

        Brett, that is such a clever idea! Much more practical than mine because it can stay put when you operate the window. I am going to try that on my truck windows. Thanks!

  • Dominick Bundy
    September 4, 2014, 4:46 pm

    Very well thought out and cleverly done..

    • Alex
      September 4, 2014, 4:52 pm

      Yup. One of my favorite School Bus conversions. And it’s a short bus too!

  • Bruce CG Gallagher
    September 4, 2014, 4:50 pm

    Hi Marsha,
    I love your bus and aesthetic…..shabby chic on wheels!!!

    • Alex
      September 4, 2014, 4:51 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it so much too Bruce- thanks!

  • tegmapat
    September 4, 2014, 5:00 pm

    I love the arrangement, especially the kitchen area. Do you actually do the work yourself, or are you the designer, & someone else does the labor? It’s wonderful! I sure wish I had seen your 6 x 6…. I’m wanting to build something lightweight that could be pulled with my Impala for camping. However, I want enough space to be able to have most everything needed. Anyhow, love it! Thanks for sharing!

  • tegmapat
    September 4, 2014, 5:06 pm

    If I had just looked, I would have seen your 6′ x 6′ below…. ‘found it tho’! I love it! My Impala is only able to tow 1,000 lbs., so I’m wondering if you know the weight of this empty, and loaded? It looks like just what I want for camping. I’m a DIYer and would be building it myself. What size trailer did you use? Thanks!

    • Marsha Cowan
      September 6, 2014, 10:43 pm

      Tegmapat, if you just want a camper and not a live in full time house, you could probably build a very lightweight one with a standard 4×6 or 5×8 trailer (3500lb. Axle and 1750 weight tires), frame it 24″ on center, use corrugated metal for the exterior sides and roof, and also for the interior, then frame the inside stuff with 2×2 or 2×3 woo and use very open designs leaving off heavy doors and utilizing baskets for storage. For camping, it would be plenty strong, but much lighter than most tiny houses you see online. Just a thought…

      • Marsha Cowan
        September 6, 2014, 10:46 pm

        I had my trailer specially made at 6 1/2′ x 6 1/2′ , so the inside would be 6’x6′, but any standard size would do nicely.

  • rachel
    September 4, 2014, 5:22 pm

    the advice about retaining the original b us door was excellent and truly caring. Having camped for extended times and learned ways to get around things here are a few tips. Portable shower and changing room which could hold a porta-potty. Solar sower bags or propane hanging hot water heaters. Just go on google and look at the many different and some elaborate portable options. Even setting out clear water jugs in the sunshine can produce warm to hot relatively short time. Think you are a real gal with talent for the design and appeal of living tiny. P.s. go with biodegradable and environmental friendly soaps, etc. For shower and cleaning. Best to you.

  • Annette
    September 4, 2014, 5:48 pm

    Another inspiring job by Marsha! Nicely laid-out and looks super practical and attractive. How about heating/insulation? Thanks for sharing your projects.

  • JJ
    September 4, 2014, 7:16 pm

    Yeaaa Marsha! Thank you for being so detailed in your sharing. For example, I loved your idea to run the fan off your trickle charged bus battery in the day, and then off solar charged D batteries at night. Smart. Best wishes to you.

  • Rich
    September 4, 2014, 8:10 pm

    Well done!

    • Marsha Cowan
      September 4, 2014, 10:17 pm

      Rich, I am going to reply to a few people on your comment, if you don’t mind. Everyone had some great ideas about showers and things, and I am definetely looking into them. Yes, you can put a stabilizer hitch with brake box on this bus and he could probably pull another bus behind him with no problem, especially since the load of all those bus seats and people on them weighed about twice what I have built inside. It has a great deisel engine, and an allison transimssion, so he is pretty hefty! I just moved to Globe, Arizona, Carol, and am am driving a school bus for the school! Lol! So come on by! I got about 15-17 on the highway from NC to AZ, so mileage is not so bad. I took the glass out of the back windows and used them as a guide to cut out plywood, then cut the middle out of the plywood, cut two matching pieces for each window, painted both sides of each piece of wood, then stapled the screen to one side of an outside piece. Then my son stood on the outside, and I stood on the inside and sandwiched the two pieces on each side of the metal opening and bolted them from the outside using round heads, and using lock nut bots on the inside. The screen is on the outside piece. I then pushed round rope insulation between the two pieces of wood which keeps out air. The plywood pieces that I cut out of the middle, I used to build shutters that fit inside the windows and are kept on with mirror hooks for traveling, and this winter, I will think of a way to keep the cold out at night, but let the warmth and breezes in during the day, because that is the way it is here in AZ. Yes, I have my own tools and I do my own building with my oldest son helping hold something now and then. I am not an expert, and I don’t seek perfection, but I do enjoy the ride. Thanks to you all for your sweet words and encouragement!

      • Alex
        September 4, 2014, 10:32 pm

        Thanks Marsha, we appreciate the update and your tips very much!

      • Diane
        July 2, 2019, 12:28 am

        I really enjoyed seeing this well thought out living space. I live in Scottsdale Arizona and admire your tenacious spirit to include all the things you need in a concise space. It is all pleasing to the eye. Well done. I know you had fun doing it. Wish I could visit you sometime and we could share stories about our tiny house victories and challenges. Keep going.

        • Marsha Cowan
          July 2, 2019, 10:57 am

          Diane, come on over! I am in Gila county RV Court in Globe, AZ. I am the very first camper. You can’t miss it! I will be back from NC by the end of August, so come on by and sit a spell.

  • Marsha Cowan
    September 4, 2014, 10:18 pm

    P.S. Right now I am at an RV site with facilities, so I have some time to plan showers and such.

  • Lindsey
    September 5, 2014, 8:00 am

    Hi. A composting toilet is mentioned, but I didn’t see evidence of it in these photos of Carol’s wonderful tiny bus home. Where is it located? Also, does she have a stove or hot plate (when she can’t cook outdoors) and does she have a refrigerator? Thanks.

    • Marsha Cowan
      September 6, 2014, 10:25 pm

      Hi Lyndsy, yes, there is a composting toilet (5gallon bucket with pete moss) under the counter behind a curtain. I pull it out to use it, then set it back. I do have a refrigerator under the desk area behind a curtain, but I am in the process of learning how to live without refrigeration so
      I can be off grid easier with this little bus. I would not be able to afford enough solar to run a frig, and the fan (and charging my iPad and phone) is my biggest priority. I have a single burner butane stovetop that is stored in a case under the counter when I am not using it, but lately I am cooking so much that I just leave it out on the kitchen counter. Hope this helps!

  • Hunter
    September 5, 2014, 10:25 am

    Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, what can I say? Another knock out job. You need to start doing this as a company, girl friend !!!! Exceptionally wonderful. Good, good, good job. Congrats a million times over.

    • Marsha Cowan
      September 6, 2014, 10:26 pm

      Thanks so much, Hunter!

      • e
        September 17, 2014, 2:20 pm

        Hunter has a point. I’d pay for this 🙂 Just gorgeous.

      • Hunter
        October 31, 2014, 1:14 pm

        Marsha, is there any way to contact you away from this site? my email is : [email protected] .
        thanks Hunter-grace

  • Kaleb
    September 5, 2014, 11:36 am

    I think this is simply delightful! AND I could see myself and feline living quite comfortably in it.
    Fact is, while I find school bus conversions ‘interesting’ have had no desire to move into one…until now!

    • Alex
      September 5, 2014, 1:00 pm

      This school bus cottage does that! (Makes you want one when you might not have before) Marsha… you’re very inspiring. Thank you!

    • Marsha Cowan
      September 6, 2014, 10:28 pm

      Thanks, Kaleb! I would love to have a cat, too. I think a kitty would just love hanging out at these back windows.

  • Offroad
    September 6, 2014, 11:38 am

    Was really hesitant about school bus “Partridge Family” lifestyle until I saw this. It’s outstanding. Given previous references can suspect that a person could create this for less than $10,000 and maybe less than $5000. Add on a tow hitch for your small car, or have a bicycle. Put in a cartridge shower toilet combination and a propane instant hot water heater, and some electric solar panels and instant small house.

    • Marsha Cowan
      October 5, 2014, 11:45 am

      Those are great ideas! I am constantly and steadily working on this bus to get it where it is really practical and comfortable, and everyone has such good ideas. Later, I will post some upated pictures with improvements. Thanks!

  • catherine
    September 8, 2014, 11:11 am

    hey! can you tell me exactly what kind of trickle charger you’re using. we’re converting a bus to use more like a studio so it won’t run very often. thanks! catherine

    • Marsha Cowan
      October 5, 2014, 11:56 am

      My bus is a 15 seater which means the living area is about 7 1/2 feet wide by 10 feet long and is 6’2″ high down the middle of the bus. I had to go 2 hours away from my home town to find a bus in this good condition for less money than in my home town. I used Craigslist to search. Since I had just sold a tiny house, I had that money in hand to buy and renovate this bus, so it took me about 2 months to get it where you see it now, though I am still working on it even now to get it where I want it. It has cost me under $5000 and that includes the cost of the bus which was $2200. I have friends who are mechanics and engi neers who checked this bus out for me. I highly recommend getting a diesel truck or bus mechanic to check out a bus for you before you buy it, even one in the locale where it is located if it is hours away from your home. The fist step in renovating a bus is getting the engine, transmission, exhaust, and every other system in the bus in good running condition before you even take out the seats or get started renovating. My bus got a good check up and had a few things fixed before I brought it home and worked on it. Hope this helps!

    • Marsha Cowan
      October 5, 2014, 4:49 pm

      Sorry, that long reply was for someone else, Catherine. The brand name of my trickle charger is Solar Panel, model #684-SP70-12V for 12 volt rechargeable batteries. Power (Max): 1.26W; Voltage Voc 18V; Current (Max) Isc:70mA; panel size about 6″x7″x1″. It comes with a stand and alligator clamps, but you could probably attach it somewhere, too. Hope this helps. There are a lot of trickle chargers out there, but I could not find any negative comments about this one, so I got it online. They have one for 6volt batteries, too, so be sure you are ordering the one you want.

  • Barbara
    October 2, 2014, 5:48 pm

    How long is this bus? I’ve looked for one to purchase and they go by number of people they seat, instead of length.
    I’d also love to know where Marsha bought this bus and about how long it took her to do this amazing conversion.

    • Marsha Cowan
      October 5, 2014, 4:51 pm

      Hi Barbara, I typed your answer under Catherine! Sorry 🙁

  • Lorna
    October 2, 2014, 9:54 pm

    You folks need to look at the skoolies (converted school buses) over at http://www.skoolie.net plus you also need to understand that school buses are built like tanks, are usually rated for roll over and.. well let’s just say they aren’t stick-&-staples manufactured RVs.

    BTW, we live, fulltime, in a converted 40 ft long Blue Bird All American school bus. Y’all are sooo funny.

    • Linda
      December 18, 2014, 1:55 pm

      Lorna, would absolutely LOVE to see your bus. Can you post it for us here with pics? Thanks!

  • Mark
    October 29, 2014, 1:57 pm

    When traveling if you park on a city street are you hassled/ticketed etc by the cops for unlawful camping or some such thing?

    • Marsha Cowan
      November 1, 2014, 2:36 pm

      No, Mark. A bus this size and with this make of engine is registered as a truck at the DVM, so I can park in any legal parking space for as long as the space is available to me.

  • Steve
    November 24, 2014, 1:26 am

    Absolutely love the project and I am looking to maybe buy and flip a bus for profit… I understand you say you can park it anywhere on the street, but are you ever hassled by authorities, neighbors etc. for actually living in it. What area is the bus located? Here in Orange County California, you cannot sleep in a vehicle overnight on public streets regardless of size.

  • Glema
    December 11, 2014, 1:47 am

    Nice job Marsha,
    You might consider buying a 5 gal solar shower like for camping, in Walmart or a similar store. For a shower just use a couple of bamboo mats like beach mats you can tie together for the curtains and three hangers on a hula hoop to connect them and hang it outside on the bus someplace or get long enough bamboo that it can stand up for you. Just a suggestion. It’s an idea you can take apart and remake your own way. Take care, happy trails and God bless you.

  • Linda
    December 18, 2014, 1:47 pm

    I’ve seen this one 5 or 6 times, Alex, but I never get tired of looking at it. Maybe that means I’m destined to have a similar one? Would be nice.

  • Stacey
    January 4, 2015, 11:34 pm

    Can I ask where you got the sink “pump” faucet? I am in love

  • Elizabeth Ekici
    March 18, 2015, 2:01 pm

    This is my favourite bus project. Yes, I spelt favourite with a ‘u’! Could easily live in this with my dog. I also have a folder on my email called Tiny House Prohects where I save stuff for future reference. We in the UK are just getting our brains into gear about downsizing so keep up the good work THP x

  • Brett Hays
    March 19, 2015, 6:28 pm

    Marsha……..Well I saw this and it pushed me over the edge to buy a bus that I have been looking at. It is not a diesel but it is the same size as yours (4 windows on each side) but is a Chevy. I just came in from cleaning it out and stripping out all cheesy plywood shelves on such that the previous owner called hi RV conversion. I would hardly call it that, more like he took the seats out, laid some old carpet remanence down and slept on the floor…..lol. It worked for him but was no where near as quaint as your AWESOME conversion above!
    My question to you is about your paint job. Is that a home done paint or did you have a shop do it. Hard to tell from the pictures but it looks great. I am going to have my mechanic go through mine before I start spending to much money on it but it does run like a top now and seems pretty strong. I would like to get going on the paint so any advice you have would be great. Thanks for your help and also for showing us your bus…….very very inspirational!

    • Marsha Cowan
      June 29, 2015, 9:21 pm

      Yes, it was done with brushes and paint for metal or wood. Took several coats, and I am still trying to find time to finish up the outside edge of the windows on one side, but it has held up under the Arizona sun now for a year and still looks pretty good!

      • Sheleta
        May 14, 2022, 7:31 am

        I live in the Bahamas and I was exploring the idea of getting a van or bus to go on short excursions on weekends or holidays. My challenge is the Bahamas is very hot and I wonder if the heat will be unbearable. The Bahamas is also made of many islands so I will have to ferry the bus when visiting other islands so I must consider size because it will impact cost. I also will have to do this on a budget. I was considering this to have some adventure, see more of the country and have fun and relax because I have a very stressful job, any advice would be appreciated. Kind regards

  • Joni
    June 11, 2015, 10:06 am

    Cute! When do you head for AZ?

    I live & travel in a converted shortie schoolie too. Mine is not as cute but I am year round off grid so I needed a lot more storage as I need to carry absolutely everything with up to a month of supplies onboard.

  • Jan
    June 20, 2015, 3:40 pm

    This article has given me the grit I need to do a small bus conversion . Thank you!

  • Carol
    June 29, 2015, 4:37 pm

    Good for you! What an inviting, comfortable home you have made for yourself! Thank you for sending the pictures.

  • Theo
    June 29, 2015, 9:19 pm

    I like it. Would change a few things of course, but overall I like it.
    As for paint, look up $50 Paint Jon, you’ll be amazed.

  • Patty
    June 30, 2015, 4:29 am

    A really great job! Hope you enjoy it.

  • Mimi
    June 30, 2015, 9:08 pm

    Holy cow! What a lot you fit into this teensy space! I love it! I was thinkin there’s nooooooo way of a potty but you managed that too! Awesome! Good for you and enjoy it! 🙂

  • beejsteph
    June 30, 2015, 9:12 pm

    Cute!! Love It!! 🙂

  • dea
    July 1, 2015, 1:01 pm

    I agree very cute and so talented. I enjoyed your work!- Many Blessings!

  • Joanne
    July 2, 2015, 12:59 am

    Terrific idea to use that type of vehicle, looks very roomy. In AZ hope you will not be in Phoenix area, as will need a/c- the fan will not cut it in summer. Cheers and good luck !

  • Callene Corkan
    October 13, 2015, 5:42 pm

    May I make a suggestion?You can get one of those galvanized tubs,to use for showering.You can put a hoola hoop with a curtain on it on your ceiling above the tub.You can use your sprayer and dump the water as you were before.Hang the tub on your wall when not in use.You can be safe,warm and have privacy all at the same time,in your own little home.

    • Diane
      July 2, 2019, 12:01 pm

      Callene as a designer it would take away completely the look and feel of this tiny house to have the shower inside. That idea is fine for an outdoor shower however. This space is simply not big enough. After all you only shower for a short time and parking in an RV park where there is a shower to use is a very good idea. Steam inside this small space would make it feel like a locker after a while and I don’t think she would enjoy living there as much. I think she wants to maintain a pretty space of comfort. That is how I see it anyway.

  • Rebecca
    October 13, 2015, 6:14 pm

    I lived off grid for a year. It is peaceful. In winter I cooked over sterno cans for one pot meals. They burned about 2.5 hours and one small can took the chill off as well as cooking dinner/breakfast. For a cup of hot tea, nothing beats a tea light. I
    have a sweet teapot that makes 2 cups of
    hot water over a tea light. I bought it at a
    thrift store for nothing. I make herbal
    teas in it. I used a 5 gallon jug with a pottery dispenser that I got free at work when they upgraded to electric dispensers. Still have it even though I am on grid here. Considering going off grid again, but this place is too big for off grid comfort.

    We had a

  • Marcy
    October 13, 2015, 10:56 pm

    Marsha, thanks for updating us on your adventure. Every time I see your bus, I am amazing and delighted.

  • BrownLuster
    October 14, 2015, 2:16 am

    Anytime design & functionality would bring such home-y-ness to make me actually consider living on a short bus, I would have to say these 5 words:
    Marsha Cowan. You. Are. Amazing.

    • BrownLuster
      October 14, 2015, 2:51 am

      As a few Fb posters stated above, I think it is a great idea to pay a small membership fee (PF $10 mth.) in an effort to get me a loooong shower in, watch cable TV while I work out & to catch some warmth during those Polar Vortex winters while living on this remarkable lil bus. Shoot…I would pull a PF $10 a month gym/fitness membership to save some $$$ while living in my 2,000+ sq.ft. permanent home!! Lol. (^_^)

  • Peter Piper
    November 22, 2015, 8:05 pm

    This is perfect! The arrangement of the bed with all the windows around it make for a great reading set-up. I love it!

  • Susanne
    November 25, 2015, 8:02 am

    Great job! I always look for your posts/comments…:)
    I was glad to see you do not get tickets where you are parked, or told to move…
    Does the red color draw too much attention, though?
    And I am a parent also, so I am curious-if you are driving a bus in Arizona, why do it so far away from North Carolina where you have kids? Why not stay there? North Carolina lovely state also as you are already aware, also.. And look at the mileage; gas, time it would take to drive to see them-not cost effective nor time effective… Just curious!!!!

  • sam amar
    November 26, 2015, 12:34 pm

    hi..greeting fro malaqysia..wow the more i read on make me draw nearer to my dream of creating a tiny houses comunity here in malaysia. thanks Marsh for the post.
    keep it up.


    • Marsha Cowan
      July 2, 2019, 11:11 am

      Wow! Long way from here! Thanks!

  • Donna Vanscoyk
    February 1, 2016, 9:34 am

    Love it and diesel is a given and Allison is a great tranny…I have driven trucks for 43 yr.’s and defiantly plan to sell my two RV’s and get a bus, been looking and they are a Great bang for the buck and you could pull a cargo trailer behind for stg. plus room for small car…[I have VW]…and yes Marsha…start your own co. during your vacation time and see where it goes, nothing to lose and soo much fun…Blessings

  • Patty Faye
    February 10, 2016, 9:30 pm

    I just love your bus/house. You did a great job. I hope to have one like this in the future.

  • Susanne
    July 14, 2016, 5:20 pm

    Since this update was 6/2015 how about another update, Marsha????

  • Virgil Grimm
    July 17, 2016, 1:41 pm

    What engine and transmission is in the bus? Have you ever calculated the gas mileage during your travels?

  • Courtney
    August 11, 2016, 11:36 am

    I wanted to know the estimated cost of the conversation? I am looking at doing this for myself also!

  • Christine
    June 7, 2018, 7:33 am

    Marxha, your conversion is the Cat’s Meow! Just the right space for everything. And offering up enough human space, too. I think my kids might approve this, as they hate my idea of living in a van. I have not given up this dream, though. Maybe one dau I will get together enough to do this. Your ideas are on point for me, too! Happy trails!

  • tegma
    February 22, 2019, 4:02 pm

    This has to be the cutest little bus-house that I’ve yet seen. Would you mind telling us what the floor space is from the back doors to the back of the seats? I want something small and I’m trying to figure out what kind of floor space I need. Thanks! You’ve done a wonderful job three times over now!

  • Marsha Cowan
    July 2, 2019, 11:16 am

    From back of bus to back of driver’s seat is 10′. The inside of the bus is 7 1/2′ wide.

  • Tawny Schlienz
    April 12, 2022, 8:13 am

    I didn’t realize this build was you, who built the Nest too. I absolutely love the bus build. Probably my favorite bus builds yet. I viewed the Nest before I realized you were the one who built the bus conversion. You do an amazing job. If I ever get a short bus I may steal your ideas, hope you don’t mind.
    As I was viewing the Nest, I thought to myself, this woman is my spirit animal. Lol. Everything I love in one tiny area. My Ma would have loved it too. She saw your bus conversion, before she passed, and she said it was one of her favorites too.
    You need to take up building and selling tinies. You have a passion here. You do incredible work. Farmhouse/ shabby chic is what I’m talking about. Lol. I just love it. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

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