You really don’t have to be into the tiny house movement to appreciate the Sugar Bear Bus or the work that went into it.
Pamela and Jim agreed to throw open the door to their rolling tiny home for Tiny Home Tours – and you’ll be glad that they did. The place is styled in a French country aesthetic, but it doesn’t go overboard with the rustic approach. It’s elegant but, more importantly, very comfortable and functional, and it’s partly down to the fact that the couple raised the roof by 20 inches (50.8 cm) before getting to work on it. It’s also cheap, because everything from the sofa to the cabinetry has been bought in what Jim likes to call “a stupid good deal.”
The adjacent kitchen has an apartment-sized fridge framed by a tall closet, and an L-shaped kitchen block with real wood, a cast-iron farm sink, a secondary freezer, a two-burner cooker, and suspended cabinetry and open shelving. Everything is painted a deep dark blue, which makes a very startling but pleasant contrast with the off-white wood walls and the white tiles in the backsplash. If there’s one thing Pamela wasn’t willing to compromise with the build, she explains, it was the real wood and the real tiles.
The bedroom sits hidden behind the kitchen, accessible via a hallway with hidden storage in the floor. It houses a wardrobe and a very tall queen-size bed, which, Pamela explains, was necessary because they included storage underneath, as well as the garage with the water tank and the water pump, and the electrics. Pamela did the electrics herself, though she had no prior experience in the area. The Sugar Bear Bus has a 50-AMP shore power for connecting to the grid, and a 3,500 W generator to go off of it.
The bathroom is just as impressive as the rest of the (mobile) house. To save money, Jim built the composting toilet himself. He also made sure to match the tiles in the shower to the cabinetry in the kitchen, and to include another closet for the linens and the propane on-demand water heater. This is where the French country aesthetic is the strongest.
Neither Pamela nor Jim puts a definite figure on the final build, but they both say it was cheaper and easier to complete than they initially thought. The secret is that they relied on online tutorials to get them through the new tasks and, almost immediately after they got started, on support from the community of tiny house and skoolie owners. They lived on the bus even as they worked on it, which allowed them to travel the country and scour locations for deals on whatever they needed. How’s that for mixing business and pleasure to one’s advantage?
While the tour isn’t a tutorial, it does offer valuable tips and answer questions, in addition to those mentioned above. For instance, Pamela and Jim reveal how they’re supporting themselves on the road, which is perhaps a very troublesome issue with aspiring vanlifers. Restaurant work is the easiest to come by, but they also do Uber or Uber Eats and work from home on the computer whenever they can land a contract.
If you were looking for an inspirational video today, let this tour of the Sugar Bear Bus be it.