Thursday, October 10, 2019

Vehicle to home conversions

There’s a lot of information on the Internet about people who convert vehicles into traveling mini-homes. Having converted an ambulance I’ve some ideas on the practice.

There are some really nice conversions out there. Some people put a lot of time and money into their vehicles. In many cases that’s a mistake. I’ve seen where someone did an amazing conversion: fine wood work, sophisticated water and electrical systems, and great attention to detail. No expense was spared.

Then I see the base vehicle that they started with is something like a 1987 Chevy Van with 200,000 miles on it. No matter how well it was maintained or updated, it’s an old van. It will fail. Then you are stuck with a lot of money sunk into a dead vehicle.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do a conversion on an older vehicle. Just don’t spend a lot of money on it. You could also built it in such a way that the components can easily be removed and installed in something else. For example, when I finally sold my van, the fridge, bed, microwave, tables, and solar electric system were all easy to remove. All of that stuff found new homes.

If you are going to spend crazy money on a van to live in, might as well buy something ready to go. There are quite a few choices based on Mercedes Benz, Ford, GMC, and RAM vehicles.

Of course, some people convert vans for the joy of doing the conversion. Actually using them is secondary. If you are going to really use such a vehicle for extended periods of time I recommend going one of two ways. Either go high end and get something commercial, or go low end and do a quick and dirty conversion. If you take a used older vehicle and put a lot of money into it, it will break your heart when the engine or transmission fails.



  1. Full-sized school buses tend to be popular because full-sized SBs are so overbuilt 'for the children' that they are practically indestructible, except from salt-rust on the floor.

    And they (full-sized SBs) come in varieties from relatively short to a full 40' long.

    If I had the cash back in '15, I'd be living in a skoolie right now.

    Darned it.

    1. I've seen some nice conversions. Once down to the Everglades I saw a cool short bus that was done up in antique furniture. Last one I looked at was a converted prison transfer bus.

  2. I'm taking the down & dirty route with my 1998 E350 conversion. Comfy bed, and some solar power. Main functions are " driving and sleeping"...not planning to make it my home.

    1. You can save a lot of money by having a rig you can sleep in.