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Topo Bus Is a DIY Mobile Home With a Rooftop Deck and a Homey Interior

Living in an RV sounds like a crazy idea for many people. But the tiny living combined with traveling might just be a fantastic way to have a roof over your head and explore the world to discover new opportunities.
DIY School Bus Transformed Into an Off-Grid Motorhome 21 photos
Photo: Tiny Home Tours / YouTube
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School bus conversions are an excellent fit for this lifestyle since they are still mobile homes but have enough space on the inside to fit all the necessities. For comparison purposes, the lack of space is a big turn-off in a camper van since they usually don't manage to fit much. However, a bus might be harder to drive and park in certain locations.

Mark and Billie are a young couple who are living and traveling full-time with their dog in a 28 ft (8.5 m) International bus called Topo Bus. They have been doing this for about three years already. Their journey started when they decided to travel for a few weeks in their Land Rover with a rooftop tent. When thinking of a mobile home for their travels, a school bus wasn't the first vehicle that came to mind. They initially considered moving into a camper van, a more popular type of vehicle among nomads. However, the well-built chassis, the safety, and affordability of a skoolie made them change their minds.

The exterior of the Topo bus has been painted gray and white. On one of the sides, we find a shore power outlet, a freshwater tank, and a custom storage box. A garage-like area was created at the back of the bus. All the power equipment is stored here, such as a Victron inverter, a charge controller, and six 100 amp/h batteries. But there is also a pull-out platform where three bikes can be kept. Underneath the garage, the couple created a tiny compartment to place a 30-gallon (113-liter) propane tank.

DIY School Bus Transformed Into an Off\-Grid Motorhome
Photo: Tiny Home Tours / YouTube
They also carry a 600lb adventure bike that is attached on a few hooks on the deck at the back of the skoolie. There is also a custom rack to access the rooftop deck and the solar panels. Since the couple realized too late that they wanted to have a range hood in the kitchen, they had to cut through the spray foam and the walls to make a hole for it.

The interior is light and airy with a homey aesthetic. The front side, where the driver's cabin is placed, might keep its original layout, but the wood accents and the cabinets make it look like a traditional home entrance. Here, we find a swivel chair next to the driver's one, a large TV mounted on the wall above the cabin, and home theater speakers.

Behind this, we find the living room. This area is also used as an office as it comes with a desk made of an extraordinary piece of live-edge cherry wood with an epoxy finish. As far as the lounge area goes, there is only a couch that can transform into a full-size bed for the guests with extra storage and a tiny wood stove, which is also the primary heat source for the mobile home. The spray foam insulation for the walls and the ceilings help keep the warmth inside. The stove was placed on a wood storage and another drawer for office supplies.

DIY School Bus Transformed Into an Off\-Grid Motorhome
Photo: Tiny Home Tours / YouTube
The kitchen is compact but quite functional. The backsplash made of white subway tiles makes it look more like a traditional kitchen than an RV one. The couple can cook delicious meals using a big three-burner stove, an oven, a range hood, a fridge, and a sink. There is also plenty of prep area and tons of storage. All the cabinets have soft-close drawers, and a few also have magnets to keep them closed while driving. We can also find a pull-out pantry next to the fridge.

Since the bus has a roof raise, they were able to integrate a step in front of the bathroom where the water tank is stored. On the right, we find the half bath that fits a composting toilet and a tiny shower. And on the left is a small area where an itsy-bitsy vanity with a sink and a mirror were added.

In the hallways, before entering the bedroom, the couple customized a closet with his and her sides for clothes and shoes. The rest of the clothes are stored underneath the bed and beside the garage. The bedroom comes with a queen-size foam mattress, a mini-split, a little TV placed on an arm swivel, and two tiny nightstands.

Another way to get on the rooftop deck is by this room's skylight. The garage door is in front of the bedstead, where the couple can enjoy unforgettable outdoor views and the warm breeze without stepping outside.

DIY School Bus Transformed Into an Off\-Grid Motorhome
Photo: Tiny Home Tours / YouTube
One of the biggest challenges the couple faced while on the road was finding fresh water to fill up the 80-gallon (302-liter) tank. But the best part of this lifestyle is having your home with you wherever you travel. Not to mention that you would only have to pay for the gas as the accommodation is free.

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About the author: Angela Balaciu
Angela Balaciu profile photo

Angela has always been attracted to the artsy and quirky sides of the world. When she discovered the automotive world is filled with all kinds of wonders, a new passion was born.
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