Cars

How One L.A. Couple Created Their House on Wheels and Moved to Colorado!

What would it take for you to want to completely change your life? For Will and Alyssa, a couple living in Los Angeles and working in Silicon Valley, it was an old school bus. Will and Alyssa were both part of the booming tech industry that has enraptured so many young business professionals. However, the couple always wanted more. They wanted to connect with nature and work from anywhere in the world as their own bosses.  So what came next was natural: they took a 37′ school bus and converted it into a house on wheels. This is a life changing journey, captured in pictures.

Not to mention this bus is for sale!

Starting from scratch.

Every great adventure has humble beginnings. Here is the inside of the bus before a day’s worth of work had been put into the conversion process. Will and Alyssa had to grind off all of the interior rivets and remove the paneling and insulation.

Rivet grinding in action.

Will should be the first to tell you that grinding rivets is no fun. Here he is equipped with a grinder and a safety mask while Alyssa pulls the paneling off from outside of the bus.

Safety first, always.

All grinding was done with ear, eye, and mouth protection.

Removing wall rivets view: 1 & 2.

Alyssa claims that the key to success removing wall rivets came in having two grinders going. With both sets of hands busy they were able to remove the side panels in under three hours. So far all of the insulation behind the paneling was clean and dry.

Emergency windows can cause problems.

The emergency window gave the team some issues when being removed.

Full view of the work.

At this point the crew was two days into the transformation project. 8 more to go.

Alyssa gets to work.

Here she is using a 7″ grinder rented from Home Depot. Here is her work, clean and simple.

The final panel being removed.

Will and Alyssa are ecstatic as they get to the final piece of panel removal. Next up: the floor.

All eyes turn to the floor.

At this point in time their biggest concern was being realized: rotted floorboards and rusty component issues.

Junkyard dog, ready to help – kinda.

With day 2 complete, Will and Alyssa feel not-unlike the sleepy dog in this picture. Their life is on the road to being changed, one workday at a time.

Day three: Floors, floors, floors.

Now the team has turned full tilt toward removing the floor. It’s backbreaking work that most renovators avoid to do.

Alyssa shows off the floor’s layers.

The floor of a bus consists of three different layers of material: rusty steel, plywood, and linoleum. Here is a close up view of the water rot.

Slowly but surely.

If anyone tells you that renovating a bus is easy, they are lying.

The plywood removal was simple, unfortunately…

…Unfortunately the reason the plywood was easy to remove was due to water rot. Alyssa says that the wood feels like soggy cardboard.

Down to steel.

We’ve reached the bottom layer of the floor: steel. Yes, it is very rusty.

Dealing with exposed nails.

Despite rampant rust, most of the nails still stuck firm – and had to be removed one by one.

We have a clean floor!

Feeling a decade older, and with a sore back, the outcome is beautiful: a clean (mostly) floor.

Grinding the rust.

Before the crew could start washing and changing the floor, the rust had to be ground down. It’s backbreaking work and Alyssa has to stretch to stay limber.

New latch inbound.

Taking a break from the floor, Alyssa ordered a new latch. You have to have a nice front door to your new home.

Final hole patching.

Some Henry’s Wet Patch Roof Leak Repair partners up with grip tape to solve their holy floor dilemma.

Pressure washed and painted!

With the rust ground down the act of pressure washing and painting goes smoothly. Alyssa and Will use Bondo and Pitt Guard to coat the holes on their floor. it does okay.

Another trip to the dump.

With the renovation in full swing trips to the dump become more frequent.

The final layout.

Now that they are ready to start building instead of breaking down, a blueprint is needed. This is a rough layout of their new mobile home.

 Addressing the heater hoses.

We get our first look under the hood as Alyssa buys $60 worth of coolant in order to drain, alter, and refill her heater hoses.

Fresh air at last!

After days of toiling in a stuffy bus it is nice to see a new electric fan installed via a plywood base.

Think green: solar energy.

Solar energy is a must and here we see Will testing a panel for size. Bob comes along to help cut angled roof 2x4s.

The rest of the family.

Friends Scott and Taryn bring their puppy over for a playdate while the grown ups work. Keep the bus, we want the dogs.

Crafting the solar mounts.

Will, with help from Grandpa Bob, craft a pair of solar mounts out of 2x4s.  Here they are painted before installation. Pupper is unimpressed.

Back to work!

The solar panels are mounted the next time Alyssa and Will get back to work. They took a week break for a ski trip in Aspen, CO.

Driver side sub-floor looking good.

Alyssa uses a saber saw to cut plywood to the proper shape for the driving section. Can you imagine driving this thing?

Time to window-dress the new home.

Alyssa and Will focus on putting in new windows while altering old ones. Apparently removing the windows was super easy.

Sealing old windows.

In order to seal off some of the windows Will cuts metal down to size while Alyssa screws them into place. 

Electrical begins with a bang.

Will and Alyssa confide that they had been fearing moving on to electrical work: it’s dangerous and time-consuming.

Electrical bin banks.

All of the electric in the bus will feed through the floor and into these tanks. The left tank is where the inverter/converter and charger goes while the right side will house the batteries.

Spotlights and cameras installed.

With the electricity coming around it is time to start installing key appliances: spotlights and backup cameras to kick things off.

Alyssa tackles her first solo project.

Will gives Alyssa free reign on designing and installing the vents. She uses a grinder and is careful to avoid structural rails. Here are the fridge vents from the inside and the outside.

Furnace vent issues.

Alyssa accidentally installs on a support line, has to move it  over.

Floor problems appear.

A week after the floor is installed there starts to show noticeable sagging. Pulling up the floors show that they are starting to mold. Time to start the floor over.

Things are easy this time around.

Fortunately they are old hands at this point. Plywood is treated with mold killer and reinstalled. So shiny and fresh. Now it’s time to worry about propane.

Time to go junkin.

A new 12 gallon propane tank goes for $350+. Alyssa and Will head to a local junkyard to try and find one cheap. Will is excited to get picking.

Voila! A propane tank is found.

Will finds the perfect propane tank underneath an old truck. The weld is good and there are no dents. The cost? $60.

Raise some walls.

Now it’s time to make this bus a home. Will’s family steps in to help measure out and erect the walls for their new home.

The frames are coming together.

The hardest part of this process is dealing with the curved roof. Measurements are  difficult and cuts even harder. Fortunately it all works out.

The home is outlined.

The team ends up erecting six different walls in total.

Preparing for the spray foam.

Will and Alyssa hire a spray foamer but they need to get everything prepared. This involves lots and lots of tape.

The foam truck arrives.

They don’t disclose the price but apparently the foam sprayers were expensive.

Let the spraying begin!

Over the course of a seven hour day the entire bus is sprayed down with foam.

Time for some beadboarding!

Above is an example of beadboarding. Here is the style and color they ended up going with. Unfortunately they begin to run into sagging issues and have a friend come over to help.

Sagging is problematic.

Even with some help sagging remains an issue. Fortunately teamwork and a new technique solve the problem.

Let’s bring the heat.

Mounting and installing the propane tank is no easy task. Here it is with a new coat of paint.

Will takes off the exhaust in order to mount the tank.

A temporary measure, of course, but the exhaust has to come off.

The crew builds a mount for the propane tank.

The process for mounting this tank is borderline Herculean.

The mounting process is precarious.

They stack and summarily remove blocks to make the mount work. Finally it hangs.

A home needs furniture.

Building a custom home requires custom furniture.

Cabinet construction is underway.

Will cuts out custom cabinets and builds them out of MDF, plywood, and pineboard.

Cabinet frames are done.

Measurements have to be precise but so far so good.

Now it’s time to paint.

Alyssa preps her new custom furniture for a painting session.  The couple chooses blue but they are unhappy with how blue it is.

The furniture is put into place.

With the furniture set in place we inch ever so slightly closer to completion.

More paneling.

Alyssa doubles back to put up the wood paneling. It looks great next to the furniture.

Addressing the front flooring.

After laying down the front flooring Alyssa noticed that the sun had made it start to warp. Time to fix it.

And now on to plumbing.

Plumbing is going to be a chore but Alyssa is on it with her handy  fittings.

Six months in, work is still going.

June 1st marks their sixth month of work on the bus. They initially had planned on only a single month of work.

Despite delays the bus is gorgeous.

The bus looks majestic in the summer sun.

Alyssa’s family comes to help.

Alyssa’s family comes down from California in order to help measure, cut, and panel the new home.

This is detail driven work.

Measuring each individual piece is of utmost importance.

The curved wall takes shape.

Working with these curves is a nightmare, but the team manages to make it happen perfectly.

Beetle kill pine is the wood of choice.

Alyssa strategically places the beetle kill pine in order to have it facing the front, switching to plain pine for the side view.

Alyssa and dad in the kitchen.

Dad and daughter bond over their hard work.

The countertop team assembles.

Putting together the countertops turns into a huge ordeal, so everyone gets involved.

Bob gets close for details.

Tricky angles are everywhere so a precise eye is required.

The team looks over their pretty backsplash.

By this point every job is a team job.

Let’s make some driver seats!

Alyssa’s mom steps up big time to patch cushions, measure out seat covers, and rediscover the old material.

The chairs are  here!

With nothing but hard work and reclaimed chairs the team has managed to create something  beautiful.

A different kind of throne.

Will and Alyssa opt for a compost toilet, mounted on the tire wheel well.

Work is almost complete!

The finish line is so close and they  know it!

Then and Now.

From studs to studly living, our bus has turned into a home.

Stovetop burners in place.

Here’s a small shot of a small kitchen that includes a mini Breville oven, a mini fridge, and this two burner stove.

The old rig.

Lots of good memories here but Alyssa and Will are ready for their hard earned upgrade.

And finally time for a nap.

Nearly seven months later and little Hilde can finally sleep in her new home. The job is finally done and their new home is ready to hit the road. It hasn’t been an easy trip but the work has easily been worth it. If you really liked this bus why not buy it? It’s for sale! Check out the listing here.

Thanks for enjoying the article! If you want to try some DIY projects of your own you can now access over 16,000 woodworking plans. Ted’s Woodworking plans have step-by-step instructions, photos and diagrams to make every project laughably easy. Watch this video to gain full access.

woodworking video

Enjoy this article? Click here to see more DIY transformations.

To Top