Finding our bus took what seemed like forever with searching and reaching out to people about their bus almost 8 hours a day. We were ambitious but still reaching out to people selling their buses if it looked good and didn’t have any rust, no matter the size or what kind of engine as long as it wasn’t a CAT. We weren’t having much luck and that’s when we decided we wanted to stay under 30′ in length and we either wanted a DT466E or DT360 engine. So how long did it take us to find our school bus for our diy skoolie conversion?
Timeline of Purchasing Our Bus
(click any blue link below to read more about the date)
Chris finally convinced me (Sarah) that it was better to convert a school bus than to build a tiny house so we could travel more.
Chris started talking about building a tiny house not even a year after we met each other. The conversation came back up in September, 2018, after we had started Mindzymes supplement company and got sick of paying rent.
By this time, we did a bunch of research on building a tiny house. We even started to narrow down the type of trailer and creating a budget. Yet, Chris was thinking more long term than I was.
When we are done with the tiny house, how are we going to move it?
We didn’t own a large truck, so we would have to either rent a truck to pull it, hire someone to transport it for us, or buy a truck.
Where were we going to go with it?
We have always wanted to move to Colorado since our first trip together there for New Years in 2016. Yet, we didn’t own any land to put it on… so, we would end up having to still pay rent for a lot.
Expenses were adding up like crazy. On-top of this, we wanted to travel and it seemed like it would almost be impossible with a tiny house trailer.
Chris had the idea of doing a skoolie conversion (school bus turned into tiny house). I thought he was CRAZY! A school bus?
It took me about 3 full days to come around to converting a school bus after tons of research about other people doing it.
We found some really well built converted buses, so I decided to trust Chris – especially since he said “we are doing this, either way.” We were then ALL-IN on this journey and began the bus hunt!
The hunt for the perfect bus was on. Craigslist & eBay were our first two main ways to look. After a couple days, we found GovDeals.com – an auction site.
We went to look at a bus in Madison about 20 minutes from where we currently live. It turned out to be very rusty when we looked at it in person, so we passed.
We drove down to Scottsburg, IN about a 6.5 hour drive from Madison, WI to look at a 1991 International 10-window bus with a dta360 engine. We were freakin pumped. This bus was very clean. We honestly thought we were driving home with it that same day. When we got there, we found out that the brake lights and back blinkers did not work. No way could we drive 6.5 hours back in the dark without those working. We left pretty upset, but we knew it was just not the right bus for us.
Chris found a bus on GovDeals.com (auction site) a 1996 DT466 with a very low bid. He bid nearly right away once he saw it. The bid didn’t end until November 1 @ 6.19pm. The only problem was that it was in Ohio (8.5 hour drive) and the guy selling it wouldn’t send us a picture of the underbody. He was a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy.
We were outbidded early in the morning. Happy Halloween to us! We later that day found a 2000 International DT466E first on Facebook, then saw the post on Craigslist as well. Chris contacted him and he got back to us right away. He let us know that the title was in the mail and he didn’t have it in his hands yet. He said he would hate for us to drive all the way over there to not leave with the bus. He also mentioned that he had another guy coming to look at it around the same time tomorrow. He sent us some pictures and everything looked really good. The bus was in Michigan, about a 5.5 hour drive. Maybe this was the perfect bus for our skoolie conversion?
Today was the day – the auction was ending in the evening. Chris was communicating with the gentlemen in Michigan. He let us know that he didn’t have the title just yet, it was on its way to him in the mail. He also let us know that another guy was coming to checkout the bus tomorrow around the same time we were planning to meet him. Chris told him no worries, we would still like to drive down and see the bus and asked if we could meet before the other guy got there. There was about an hour left until the auction closes. Do we bid on a bus we haven’t seen or inspected? Or do we drive over to Michigan tomorrow? The gentlemen with the 2000 bus replied to Chris and was able to meet tomorrow. Yes. We are going to Michigan tomorrow morning!
We drove down to Michigan. Luckily, we didn’t hit major traffic and got to see the bus. It was everything we asked for. The best part was that it was very clean! No rust whatsoever. We made a deal with him that we would pay 10% down for him to stop showing it and we would pay the rest when he receives the title and we drive down to pick the bus up. We bought a school bus! It didn’t really seem real but I am sure it will when I’m following a giant yellow school bus going down the interstate at 60mph next week.
The guy selling us the bus texted Chris and said the title arrived today. We were out shopping for stuff for the bus so we went home, packed a bag, and started driving to Michigan. We left about 400pm our time and reserved a hotel about 30 minutes from where we were picking the bus up. Our plan is to drive down, get a good nights sleep, meet the guy after he is off work tomorrow, around 230pm EST and then drive it back to Chris’s parents house.
This gentlemen did not get off of work until early afternoon so we stopped in Allen, Michigan which is the Antique Capital of Michigan. We stopped at 3 or 4 antique malls and get a ton of ideas for fun and unusual stuff of what we can incorporate into the bus. Now it’s time to go pick the bus up. We are so excited! He hands us the title and keys and Chris is off! He starts driving the bus and I follow in my car. We are officially bus owners!
Total time to find and buy a school bus: 16 days