Grads Turn a Degraded Bus Into a Wonderful Traveling Home!

Great things can happen when a group of friends band together. Great things like a renovated school bus!

This is the story of a guy named Nick, one old school bus, and the group of friends who decided to give it new life. It all started in August of 2014. Nick and his friends had just finished their first trimester of an entrepreneurship program and the idea of remodeling an RV was the topic of discussion.

Three of them got serious about the idea, and in no time they were searching the online “skoolie” community for inspiration. The idea was tossed around for a couple of months until one day in October they came across an interesting ad on craigslist for a “1995 Carpenter school bus, 40 feet long, diesel engine, killer paint job.”

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A few emails later they were the proud owners of the bus!

Over the next seven months, four more classmates joined the project brining their total crew to eight students from all over the US, and even one from Ireland.

With the exception of Nick, no one had any formal construction experience. But with coordination and supervision, all of them soon took on meaningful roles in the project.

Here’s a photo of the crew and the benefits they brought to this brilliant idea.

From left to right: Amy (marketer and blogger extraordinaire), John (plumber and photographer), Dan (detail carpenter and house maid), Sam (interior designer and videographer), Micheal (roof deck builder and sleepyhead), Nicky K (bus dad and painter), Rory (electrician and group optimist), and Nick M (the salty dictator)

Below you will see the full process involved to turn this old bus,

Including this lousy interior,

In this beauty. 

Now sit back, relax, and see how eight brilliant grads turned a monster into a beauty 

After the back and forth emailing, Mike (on the right), sold them his bus for a reasonable price. 

Mike was even nice enough to pull out all the seats, add some junk furniture and paint the bus red to give it a different apparel 

Like the good college students they were — they started with a pan. Unfortunately plan A had to be scraped, so they went with plan B. A thoughtfully laid out plan with enough space for eight people. 

The re-modeling started in winter which caused some grumblings from the crew. The first step was to install runners on the floor with rigid insulation between, to keep out road heat and noise. After that, they had to crawl under the bus and fix/tighten all the bolts for extra safety. 

They screwed plywood subflooring to the runners and secured them with liquid nails. To keep out road noise from the wheels they built boxes around them and packed in the insulation. 

Next they moved on to the frames, starting with the bunk beds in the back and continuing with the kitchen and couches. 

They choose the electric appliances after a few scary moments with fire when trying to connect the gas appliances. 

Everything was finally shaping up and the safety precautions were added to the vehicle. 

They worked on the electrical system for a few days and did an amazing job at it! 

The grads did a brilliant job on designing and finishing the bunk beds. They were only half a size of a queen sized matters, so they just ordered a few 6″ memory foam mattresses online and cut them in half. In the end the beds only cost $80 per person which they considered a great deal. 

Painting of the vehicle took place when extra hands where around. They went from red to white in no time.

Check out how long their bus is when parked next to a normal size school bus. 

Their biggest triumph was that they didn’t use a single ladder or saw horse during the entire build, even when they installed the steel roof deck. The apartment complex’s dumpster helped them with all of that. 

Next up was painting the interior. 

When you have friends in higher places, why not turn to them for help? Thanks to their buddy Mike and his Baja team of welders, they only had to trade one case of beer for the creation of an awesome metal rooftop. 

Using vinyl planks that were easy to install, the guys finished the floor. This material was an obvious choice since it was lightweight, flexible and waterproof.

I loved the custom map they attached to that wall. It was created by Sam, using several maps of Yellowstone National Park from the 1900s. She printed them out and stitched them together to form a nice interior touch. 

They had some difficulties finding a company to custom make their cushions in Indiana. Luckily they found an LA company called Murano, Inc. who made and shipped the cushions to them.

A few of the moms stepped up to the plate and sewed the custom covers for the cushions.

The plumbing system was installed by John. He included fresh and grey water tanks, two sinks, a faucet/shower, an electric water pump, and an external RV hose hookup. 

Thanks to Amy, the group received a sponsorship from McDonalds, which provided them with a send off and “way top many” stops at Micky Ds on the trip. 

The day before their scheduled departure, they worked till 4 am to completed the final details. They took a quick photo near the renowned golden dome and started their adventure.

They documented the entire 5.5 week journey on their facebook page.

And finally, the revel of the completed renovation they call SerendipiBus! 

The cushions are looking great, and behind those pillows, at each corner of the couch, are outlets for re-charging phones and laptops. Under each cushion is a storage compartment. And next to the couch you can see the sink faucet on the left and a small retractable laptop table on the right. 

This is the heart of the vehicle. It contains five house batteries and a Scheider inverter/converter. It’s an awesome electric system designed by Rory that powers phones, computers, a mini-fridge, a microwave, and the A/C unit.

Behind the couch are six pieces of board that fit perfectly in between the couch gap to form a huge “MegaCouch”.

The kitchen contains a small but spacious fridge with a microwave on the left. Under the microwave there’s a “special liquor drawer” design and built by Dan. 

And you can’t go anywhere without a trash can. I think they probably stole this one from a McDonald’s restaurant. Nice touch though. 

 They also added some storage cubbies inside the map wall. 



Now this is what makes this bus a wonderful traveling home. The bunk beds have enough space and all come with a curtain, a storage space beneath, a personal cubby one on the side, and intact original bus lights plus added switches above.

You can store a lot of clothes in there.

Here’s the bathroom with a removable toilet. 

They used a bungee cord to create the rod above and to keep the hangers mounted while the vehicle rolls over bumps. Below the shelves is the A/C unit with a collapsible vent to keep the air flowing through the dorm.

They have six storage compartments below the bus and a roof deck turned into storage for their bikes. Imagine the fun they had on their first road trip.

When the vehicle was completed they had loads of fun. Especially with these colorful thrift store pants that they pulled out at all the big tourist stops.

This bus project proves that anything is possible when a group of friends bands together. The group also received help from numerous companies such as Giddy Apps, Interstate Batteries, Murano Inc., McDonald’s and the Notre Dame ESTEEM program.

And guess what? The Serendipibus is now for sale! If you want to buy this beauty simply contact them at [email protected]

Or if you are interested in remodeling your own bus, this gang of experts would love to help. Simply shoot them an email.


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