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Most schoolie conversions to RVs involve a specific series of steps, not necessarily in this order:
- Removal of seats
- Installation of 110/220 VAC electrical system, generator/inverter, solar system, extra batteries, etc.
- Installation of plumbing, including:
- Insulation of the floor, walls and/or ceilings
- Installation of electricity such as door bells, wall sockets, light switches, circuit breakers, ceiling/wall light fixtures, etc.
- Installation of replacement flooring
- Placing of furniture, cabinetry, and appliances
- Exterior cosmetic changes (paint, stickers, etc.)
- Interior cosmetic changes (painting and decoration of ceilings, walls, windows, doors, and floors)
Some schoolies also undergo some more dramatic structural changes, often to improve the sometimes limited headroom, as the inside of most school buses at the middle is 6'1" (1.85 m). Raising the roof on schoolies is a relatively common modification, and some enthusiasts even go so far as to remove the entire roof and replace it with an entirely new custom roof, usually much higher (See Vista-Dome). Some buses also have had other vehicles grafted to them, had RV "slide-out" sides installed, or have included Jacuzzis.
There are varying regulations in different states in the United States that affect the conversion of a school bus into an Recreational Vehicle (RV). Some states require that the bus's signaling equipment (stop sign, flashing lights, etc.) be removed and the school bus yellow paint scheme, such as California and Illinois, be changed. Other states simply require that the "School Bus" signage at the top front and rear be removed.
In other countries, a second driving license specific to commercial vehicles may be required to purchase and legally own the vehicle, even before any works are performed on it. In the UK, for example, owners of a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) require a Category D1 or D license to drive it on the UK's road network. Lacking such a license will make transporting the vehicle once purchased especially difficult.
Note that if one is driving a large vehicle (more than a certain GVWR) one normally needs a Commercial Driver's License. However, if one is driving the vehicle strictly for personal reasons such as recreation, such a license is not required. However, if one ventures into Canada and has air brakes, such a license (or a regular license with airbrake endorsement) is required. If one does not have such an endorsement, one's bus will be parked until a properly licensed driver is engaged to move it.
One of the most difficult problems facing someone wishing to own their own used school bus is that of insurance. Many individuals have obtained insurance online or by telephone, only to have their policy canceled as soon as underwriting has examined the paperwork. Reasons given are that drivers are less than well-trained and that a large vehicle has the ability to cause more damage than a car. The critical problem is one of possible misrepresentation: if the owner claims he owns a truck and is in an accident, the insurance company may disallow his claim or pay it and then drop him - and obtaining insurance after being dropped is very difficult. One should find a local agent and arrange one's insurance before purchasing a bus to avoid the problem of owning a vehicle that cannot be legally driven.
- Natural State Nomads - Exploring Life, one road at a time A Thomas School Bus Conversion / Skoolie conversion by a couple from Arkansas.
- Skooliepalooza an annual festival and meet up with skoolie owners and anyone looking to convert a skoolie of their own.
- Skoolie Nation a group forum of skoolie owners sharing the conversion process and living daily life in a skoolie.
- Skoolie.net a website for documenting and discussion of school bus conversions.
- Jake's School Bus Conversion Project a documented step by step conversion story.
- Vicaribus a Thomas Vista short bus conversion in progress in Denver.
- Bus Conversions, Personal Pages at DMOZ