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Tiny home on wheels

Read how 2 osteopaths, turned DIY enthusiasts, converted an old bus into a modern tiny home on wheels.

RYOBI TEAM Thu, 09/07/2023 - 14:55
Where did you get your inspiration from?

There are a lot of DIY ‘vanlifers’ out there building some pretty amazing homes on wheels. We did a loop of Western Australia, traveling with a few people who had converted buses and we really got inspired by stepping inside their amazing conversions. We lived in a van for a year so we knew what we liked and what we didn’t like. This bus conversion needed to be a mobile home / office for us so that we could comfortably take our business to the most remote and isolated places in the country.

Inside of a campervan showing cooktop, windows, bed and brown dated cupboards

How long did it take to complete?

We bought the bus in late April 2020 (in the middle of all this COVID madness) and took it back to our family farm. We hit the ground running on the conversion and completed it two months later. We hit multiple road blocks along the way, but that’s what happens when you try to renovate an old bus in the middle of a pandemic!


What skill level will I need to complete it?

Put it this way, we are osteopaths. We went to uni for five years to learn how to diagnose and treat musculoskeletal complaints, we know absolutely nothing about renovating, construction or auto electrical. If you’re willing to do your research, reach out to people with knowledge and give things a go, then you can walk into something like this with a really low skill level. Our advice would be plan the entire build in order and always allow more time / money for things that go wrong, because they definitely will.

"If you’re willing to do your research, reach out to people with knowledge and give things a go, then you can walk into something like this with a really low skill level."


What was your budget?

We bought our bus for $15,000 and told ourselves if we could get it on the road for a total of $22,500 we would be happy. We spray-painted the exterior, had some panel beating and mechanical work done and replaced the shock absorbers and tyres so before we even started the inside we were already over $20,000. The interior we renovated as cost effectively as we could and we are really happy with how the budget tracked there. Of course, we ended up slightly over our intital budget but that was mostly due to some unexpected electrical challenges.

Woman in t-shirt using RYOBI drill on white campervan cupboards. Large dog with her looking towards the camera.

What materials did you use? Alternatives?
  • Paint + new handles
  • Hardwood for benchtops
  • Rigid vinyl flooring
  • New sink and tap
  • MDF to construct the shelf above the bed
  • Carpet offcuts for the front of the bus
  • Lots of sandpaper / sanding blocks / sugar soap
  • LED strip lights
  • 2 x 200W solar panels
  • Victron 12V to 240V 375 Inverter
  • Red Arc Bcdc 50A charger

What tools did you use?

What was the toughest part of the project where extra care or attention to detail was required?

Designing an off-grid solar system that is efficient and able to provide enough energy when sunshine is limited was difficulat. Because we chose to run a normal house fridge in our bus we needed more solar energy to ensure the fridge did not deplete the batteries. We learnt a lot about auto electrical and 12V off-grid systems in this process.

Before & after
Interior of older campervan, looking from front past table, kitchen and to bed.
Interior of modernised campervan with white cupboard, looking from front past table, kitchen and to an unmade bed.