College Grads Renovate An Old School Bus Into An Incredible U.S. Roaming Mobile Home!

We’re told to seek adventure while we are young and to see the world before we grow too old. Some people take that motto and use it to develop annual vacations across the country and overseas. Other people, like the eight college grads you are about to meet, take that motto and decide to live it. Recent Notre Dame graduate Nick Machesney had a simple plan in mind: buy an old school bus, turn it into a gorgeous house on wheels, and take the road trip of all road trips with his friends. Machesney accomplished these goals in spades and you’ll be shocked at how well everything turned out.

Meet the crew

You’ll never have friends like the ones you meet in school. Here we see the whole road trip crew posing for a shot by Mount Rushmore; Amy, John, Dan, Sam Michael, Nicky, Rory, and the man himself – Nick. They’re all smiling here but they’ve got seven months of grueling work ahead.

A peak at the finished product

Before we dig into the nuts and bolts, literally, we’ll tease you with a shot of the renovated school bus.  Here you see the product of seven months of work and over $20,000 of investment money. Let’s dig right in.

The beginning: a 1995 Carpenter School Bus

Close your eyes and imagine riding to school on a bus as a child. Was it comfortable? Probably not. Here we see the bus before any work has begun: 40 feet of old, rusted, and banged up metal. Nick and co had a ton of work ahead.

Nick found the bus on Craigslist

Nick scoured the internet until he found a great deal on Craigslist for the rust bucket you see here. His goal was to turn the hunk of metal into a Skoolie which is a bus turned into an RV. This is very popular right now.

Nick makes the purchase

Imagine graduating from college and immediately signing on for more debt. Nick took the courageous plunge.

Not quite a home yet

The interior of the bus had already been stripped of its seats but this junk had been left behind.

Worth the price?

Nick slapped down $3,000 for a shell filled with garbage. The task seems even more daunting at this point.

So we begin

While the initial outlook of the bus was grim, Nick and his friends were inspired and fueled by their own optimism. They immediately began working.

The previous owner had already helped them out

The prior owner of the bus had done enough work to have it legally titled as an RV. This was a huge break for our student crew.

The bus is emptied and walls begin to rise

Many of the students brought their own skills to the project. Nick himself was a handyman and an experienced welder.

Building bunk beds: dorm style

Broke college students know how to make the best of their space. Here we see bunk beds beginning to be built.

A luxury RV in the works

Here’s another sneak peak at how the bus would evolve. The space had to be livable for up to 8 people at a time.

Back to the present

With careful planning and even more cautious construction, we can see the skeleton of a future home begin to appear.

A new paint job was a must

Delegating tasks made the job so much easier. While crew members worked inside, other students worked to overhaul the paint job.

This meant some intense sanding took place

The gang started by sanding down to the base color wherever possible. This would create an even surface for their new white primer.

Painting on the inside occurred, as well

The interior of the bus needed a paint treatment as well.

Quick before/after shot

While the students had to grind every single day, we can cheat and look at the end result.

The master plan is laid out

As soon as the bus was purchased Nick sat down with a few friends and sketched out the floor plan. Here you can see how the plan changed over time.

A large common room was important

While the ‘bedrooms’ offered some privacy, it was still important to have a large communal area.

Electrical is coming along

The bus was renovated, from the ground up, by the students involved. here we see the electrical beginning to come together.

A moment to relax

Here’s a peak at the electrical in place: outlets are installed right on top of tables for easy access.

Neatly organized, Rory dominates the electric installation

Rory installs a five battery bank in order to give power to what the students need: air conditioning, computers, microwaves, a fridge, and more. The breaker box is tucked away under a cabinet.

Old bus meet new bus

Parked next to an old city bus you can really see the depth of their work.

Along the way Indiana’s weather had a say

If you want to be miserable then try renovating a bus over winter in Indiana.

Nobody ever quiet

Despite many road blocks and obstacles the students kept smiling and kept working.

Stealing naps whenever possible

The students were consumed by the project and, rightly so, pretty tired toward the end.

Insulation was installed to handle noise

Nick and co wanted to avoid the loud noise issue which is so common on city buses. So they installed insulation to keep out excess noise and weather related temperature.

Beautiful flooring is installed

The students installed vinyl flooring in order to give the bus a more modern look. The vinyl was flexible, easy to install, and resistant to temperature changes.

Remember the bunk bed project?

There were no magic wands involved. Creating the sleeping area was a real chore.

The special ‘adult’ cabinet

With the bus classified as an RV, liquor was allowed on board when the vehicle was parked.

Nick leads the charge on a roof deck

You can’t take in the country from a little bus window. A roof deck was created, spearheaded by Nick.

Nick brought friends on board to help

Notre Dame students stick together. nick brought along Mike and his crew to help with the welding all for a case of beer.

It took a community

Their dream project wasn’t all done by a single person. It took a group of hard workers to make it happen.

Bit by bit their dream slowly turned to reality

When you’ve got good bones you can create almost anything. The bus, though lacking at first, provided an ample skeleton to build off of.

Sam puts her graphic design skills to work

Samantha designed the wallpaper herself by putting together multiple maps of Yellowstone National Park. She stitched them all together herself.

The bones of a bathroom appear

Any mobile home worth its weight will need a bathroom.

Not luxurious, but it’ll do

The bathroom features a removable toilet and an extendable faucet for showering.

The crew opted for electrical appliances



Nicks first choice had been to install gas appliances. However, several potentially dangerous accidents leads to a change in heart.

What an adorable kitchen

The mini fridge is stocked and the adorable bus toy on top is just perfect.

The gang relied on local hardware stores

Whether they needed supplies or simple advice, the crew frequented their local hardware shops.

Additional storage is installed

These storage doors were bought for just $2 each from a local Habitat for Humanity Restore shop.

Every inch of space mattered

A 40 foot bus would be huge for two or three people. However, for eight people this meant that every inch of space needed to be utilized.

The pull out trash can

With eight people on board we imagine that this trash can filled pretty fast.

Memory foam mattresses for the beds

The students use Amazon Prime to order 6 inch memory foam mattresses for $80 each.

Each bunk bed was personalized

Privacy and individuality was important.

More storage was added

This was an excellent alternative to having multiple dressers sitting in the bus.

Finished view of the bunks


Space might have been tight, but the crew made use of as much of it as possible.

The common room comes together


Being the centralized part of the bus meant that the room had to be extra comfortable.

The couches turned into a huge bed

When the bus exceeded eight visitors the common room easily turned into a large bed.

Murano Inc. took care of the cushions

Designing a couch for a bus meant that there was a lot of custom work done. Murano, Inc took care of this at a great rate.

A little extra color for comfort

A few moms pitched in to help dress the place up: here we see custom pillow covers and cushion tops.

We weren’t kidding about extra storage

Each segment of the couch had extra storage underneath.

Outlets were available and handy

Rory rigged up outlets at each end of the sofa for use while lounging.

McDonald’s even chips in!

Amy got the bus sponsored by McDonald’s because she currently worked for the company. Free food was on the menu!

So the adventure begins

The bus was finished at 4 A.M. on their departure day. The long hours of work didn’t prevent the kids from hitting the road, right away.

The bus looks like it was designed by a luxury craftsman

Despite the refined and modern finish, the bus was put together by a bunch of students glued together by a common goal: adventure.

These are some accomplished kids

We are going to assume that these are ‘celebration’ pants.

Rory was the first person to drive

It took awhile but eventually the whole group got comfortable driving the gigantic rig down the highway.

The road was bumpy, at first

Almost immediately the bus had transmission issues. Sidelined in South Dakota, the gang stayed upbeat and fixed the problem. Seven days later they were back on the road.

The memories would last a lifetime

The students would travel all across the continental United States for five weeks on their maiden voyage. The memories, however, will last a lifetime.

Click to comment
To Top