Often people are amazed when they step foot into our bus. They can’t believe we did it in a year. They can’t believe most of our materials were from the local landfill. They can’t believe we lived in a three-walled structure while we built. They can’t believe it all. Mostly.
Often, people ask why we did it. How we did it.
We did it for a lot of reasons. When Cody and I first met, I told him of my dream of selling fried egg sandwiches from a school bus. The dream was nothing like my current reality (which–honest–is far better than I could have even imagined in my wildest dreams). He thought I was abstract. Until a year and a half later he was working for this man named Leaf, pruning his apple trees, and saw his school bus. His bus is parked next to his house. He still uses it as his man cave. His special place. Cody came right home and said “We can do this. I could build a house on a bus.” If you can imagine how fast I jumped on the world wide web to find our very own school bus, then you wouldn’t imagine it fast enough. Within a week I found our bus, within two we had purchased our sweet 1988 Carpenter (how fitting) School Bus. It was from San Juan/Aromas school district. Right south of our neck of the woods! Drives like a dream over the Santa Cruz Mountains. Drives like a dream.
We had been living for nine months in a sweet little back house two blocks from Pleasure Point beach, loving every moment of it. We spent about $15,000 in rent in the same time it takes to gestate a baby from scratch. I couldn’t believe it when I calculated the total. Our lease was up in a month and we weren’t sure were we would move. The bus sure got that ball rolling. We knew it was radical in our time. People don’t live in buses anymore. And we don’t want to be rolling gypsies. We wanted to build a home. We wanted to plant roots. We just weren’t sure where. We are from different parts of the country. The bus afforded us time to figure out where to plant ourselves. The bus opened up our opportunity to build our very own home, to become home owners! We were ecstatic.
And how did we do it? With a lot of help, a lot of planning, a lot of research, a lot of just doing it. Fast.
A frequent Glitter & Grit reader, Tim recently inquired about how we did it, structurally. He asked for pictures of the process. He inspired this post. I’d love to outline the structure, the steps, the work involved behind the scenes making the bus.
Here is Cody making the first cut! This was a huge step. I believe that often any decision is better than indecision. I think, too, sometimes just making the first move is the best move. And, here’s our first big move. The first cut, y’all.
Welding up the “ribs” which were one inch steel tubing. The redwood beams we had locally milled at a great price were further milled by Leaf and Cody to fit snug around these one inch steel tubing “ribs”.
Attaching the beautiful arched beams from one side of ribs to the next, in order to hold the walls in place.
Filling in the roof with redwood from the local landfill, perfected with the planer.
A view from the top. The farm and the beautiful recycled wood. I love this view.
Overcast day. Perfect for creating a place for the sheet metal roofing pieces to slide up into their locations.
In order to keep our bus waterproof while we built the outer membrane, we left the inner membrane on and built up. This allowed for just enough space to weld on the one inch steel tubing and attach the redwood beams and even build the roof. Once the new roof was waterproof we began taking off the inner membrane, no longer needed, so that we could begin building the two lofts.
Why didn’t we take off the entire roof to begin with?
So that the structure of the bus would remain in tact, on top of being waterproof while we built the exterior new roof. If we took everything off, the walls may have fallen out, or at least they would not have been level and tight. By waiting to take off the inner membrane of the bus, we maintained the original structural integrity of the bus.
Preparing to take off the last bit of the bus’s original structure. We had so much help from friends and family, without which we would not have been able to complete our bus so happily!
I’d like to write the entire process and show you pictures, too. If you have specific questions and want them included in this series, please email to glitterandgrit (at) gmail (dot) com