Rou Bus: The Budget

Updated: May 28, 2019

School bus conversions can be super cheap or outrageously expensive. Wendy and I are members of a few skoolie groups on Facebook, and it seems there are three camps: Under $5000 with mostly upcycled materials, over $40k with the best of the best, and then somewhere in the middle with decent materials but still an Instagram-worthy aesthetic. We're definitely in the last camp.

When we started out, we didn't have a firm budget for anything but we knew we wanted to keep it under $25k. We felt that was a reasonable price for a custom RV suited to our tastes. We had no intention of spending more money than we had any given month, so our timeline had to be lengthy- about a year. Starting out, we weren't sure how much of the build we would be able to do on our own and how much we would need professional help with. The level of DIY vs. professional work significantly affects cost. Thankfully, most of the help we received was from friends just being friendly and we can't say "Thank YOU" enough.

I wish we would have been more detailed and organized when keeping track of our spending, but we can't change that now. Instead of breaking down all of our costs, we just logged receipts every time we went to Lowe's or ordered from Amazon. Those were undoubtedly our two biggest suppliers. Why didn't I try to get a sponsorship?? The following break down is not perfect, but it gives you a general idea of how much it all cost. We didn't really keep track of each item we returned and not all returns occurred right after purchase, which is why the door locks section is in the negative. lol Oops.

Cost of Bus

$4,500.00 Cost of bus

$620.00 Bus registration

$70.00 License plate


When we first bought the bus!

Moving the fence

$276.25 Fence materials

$180.00 Limestone


Making room for the Rou Bus


$109.94 Rockwell oscillating saw

$32.97 Extra blades for saw

$112.63 Rockwell bladerunnerx2 table saw


Treat floor, roof, leaks

$59.34 Products to treat rust

$38.61 Bondo stuff

$63.54 Silicone, floor stuff

-$25.00 Money received from scrap metal

$28.57 Silicone for windows

$78.81 Rollers, Rustoleum

$168.78 silicone, rustoleum, krud kutter, roller

-$23.72 returns

$25.41 mineral spirits, paint brush, roller

$23.02 leak stop

$140.68 Henrys, sealer, tape, Henry's white bright

$13.92 butyl tape

$46.46 keys, masks, gloves, scrub, vice grip


Prepping the floor

Subfloor, Insulation, Framing

$95.10 wood, brackets, framing materials

$27.64 screws

$31.59 1x12, 1x4, 1x6

$13.16 2x10

$28.49 corner seal, panel board

$119.27 subfloor material

-$17.57 return 3/4 plywood

$224.77 insulation materials

$39.16 liquid nails, rubber flexx

-$20.01 returns

$153.89 insulation for roof and walls

$143.04 foil tape, kreg tool, 2x2, 1x3,panel,

-$24.75 returns

$60.15 2x4, 2x2

-$47.28 Return

$20.48 2x2

$35.92 2x2, 1x3, nuts and bolts for bed

$36.04 Plywood for bed

$176.90 1x3,2x2,1x2, plywood for bed

$11.99 2x12

$51.42 2x4, caulk, great stuff, trim

$68.91 2x4, 1x4, 1x6, nail gun nails, hinges

$17.73 2x4, 1x4


Framing it up

Cabinets, Hardware, Counter, Backsplash

$599.23 Bottom Cabinets

$24.95 handles

$34.24 Handles

$291.37 Top cabinets

$96.53 1x6x8, 1x4,1x3, cabinet latches, hinges

$76.76 clamps

$35.80 plumbing and counter top

$30.67 Counter stuff

$62.62 clamps

$29.14 straps for counter

$19.16 L brackets for counter

$103.77 tile, adhesive,plumbing

$36.66 silicone rubber grout (the grout we ordered from China that never arrived)

$72.35 silicone grout

$12.56 diamond cutter t shank for tile


Kitchen cabinets, counter, and backsplash

Door locks

$91.16 Padlock and hasps

-$91.17 returns

$104.54 deadbolt, pad locks, hasps, barrel bolts

-$53.62 returns

$109.88 deadbolt

-$192.14 returns

$30.08 locks

-$30.08 returns

$123.65 hasp and lock

-$123.65 return

$6.47 paint for door parts

$8.38 screws

-$16.50 I'm sure the returns here included items from other sections.

Lock 'em up


$150.16 breaker box, breakers, 12-2 elect. wire

$111.89 2x10, 2x4, breaker, outlet and box,caulk

-$10.33 2x10 refund

$141.51 50 amp inlet, ext. cord, adapters

$147.17 outlet boxes, outlets

$87.29 electrical receptacles, boxes

$15.57 Receptacles, circuit breaker, box

$47.58 paint, elect. boxes, hinges




$205.96 bathtub

$122.99 water tank

$29.95 city/gravity fill inlet box

$57.28 water hose, regulator, elbow

$122.99 water tank

$84.98 water pump, filter

$63.74 pex pipe, shark bite accessories, door seal

-$23.37 returns

$95.50 clear tubing, shark bite accessories

$29.99 black tub drain

$29.14 plumbing stuff

-$68.54 refund

$49.02 plumbing, 2x4, cedar board backsplash

$92.94 Screws, bolts, hinges, plumbing

$29.81 hepvo trap

$49.96 plumbing,

$29.81 hepvo trap

$187.22 Cedar planks, GWT supplies (angle iron, rods, etc.)

$31.76 insulation for GWT, washers, nuts

-$22.91 credit

$29.73 straps for fresh watertank, light switch

$57.76 Fittings for water heater

-$63.10 credit for returns

-$21.90 credit for returns

-$129.81 credit

$8.61 pvc fitting

-$35.70 credit

$7.95 Plumbing

$11.50 pvc

$15.68 Pvc

$80.85 pvc and fittings for plumbing

$148.74 shark bite connectors, valves

$23.69 washers, sink pipe drain

$6.78 washers, pvc connectors

$76.65 pvc trap, fittings

$54.66 Hose, shark bite fittings, etc.

$110.78 4" bracket, insulation, pvc and fitting

$44.68 Gravity fill hoses, adapters

$70.43 pipe, fititings,hardware for door and window


Bathtub plumbing

Walls and ceiling

$23.84 cedar board, screws

$61.13 Walls and ceiling

-$34.96 Refund

$61.13 Walls and ceiling

$61.13 Walls and ceiling

$43.98 paint samples, hinges

$80.82 paint and accessories, silicone

$12.47 1x2, moulding, pad for polyurethane

$131.02 Cedar, iron, trim, closet stuff

$130.51 wood, trim

$155.91 paint brushes, 1x4, 1x3, trim, screws, hinges

-$52.94 returns

$127.87 1x6, 3/4x20 panel, frog tape, tub drain

$80.85 Polyurethane, sink drain, brush

$161.06 paint, cedar planks, Trim,

$30.10 nailer for air tank

$69.93 furring strips, wood planks, pvc

$10.90 sandpaper stain

$58.12 Trim,wall plate, cabinet clasps

$91.80 cedar board planks


Cedar planks in the closet

Flooring- vinyl plank

$427.28 flooring

Shark Wellington Walnut Luxury Click 6"x48" Vinyl Plank

Underbody storage

$553.35 underbody storage boxes and brackets

$336.21 under body box, bracket, Lights

-$84.00 return bracket


Locking storage boxes

Bed (and sofa mattress)

$120.02 bed frame

$85.88 bracket and hydraulic lift for bed

$168.66 Mattress for sofa

$249.95 Mattress for bed


Memory foam sofa mattress


$59.99 back up camera

$39.32 cable wire, speaker wire

$10.99 radio antenna

$25.73 speaker cover

$25.73 speaker cover

$57.95 5 1/2” hole bit

$147.33 antifreeze, radio, fuse kit

-$63.10 credit

$44.36 strip lights and brackets

$189.07 12v batteries

$196.90 2 TVs

$23.98 TV brackets


Watching X-Files with no lights on


$139.25 Misc. items, cup holders, decor

$68.56 curtain rods

-$26.03 returns

$30.53 curtain tie backs

$19.66 Curtain rod for shower


What feels like hundreds of pretty curtains


$87.45 battery charger

$6.29 7" light lens (they sent us a 5" and we didn't bother returning it)

$257.44 paint

$68.37 paint supplies

$86.17 Badder Clear 7" lenses

$95.95 Frisco dog pens

$11.32 solar power light for license plate

$26.40 badden brown 2000 bracket for 7" lights

$49.99 4" turndown exhaust tip

-$80.21 Refund

-$32.40 Refund


Spiffy exterior paint

Air Conditioner

$688.00 mini split

$20.76 pine boards for back wall

$500.00 AC installation


Pioneer 9,000 btu mini split


$999.00 Nature's Head Toilet, transfer adapter, vent pipe

The prettiest shitter you ever did see

Grand Total


I'm going to break things down a little further. That list is the total cost of everything involved with this bus conversion for us, but I like to analyze my data in different ways.

Cost of the bus not including moving the fence back


Cost of the bus not including moving the fence back, tools, and dog pens


I think the last figure is the most accurate for actually converting the bus, though it's still just an estimate because there are some other tool costs built into those other categories. We did buy other items to stock the bus, such as an induction burner and propane grill, linens, etc. I didn't figure those into the cost because those are just fun after-the-build items and the cost for those can vary dramatically depending on taste. I'll also add in the cost of the awning once we actually get around to making it.

We paid for everything with extra money from our monthly paychecks while somehow still being able to put money into savings every month. We did have a couple of angel investors who helped along the way. (THANKS Y'ALL *kisses*) I'm quite proud of the restraint we practiced, because we generally like to finish projects as quickly as possible. It was hard to say, "Ok, we have to wait until next month to do the next part."

While $18k is a LOT of money, used (USED) Class C motor homes which are closest in size to our bus are anywhere from $30k to over $100k. They are also built out of plastic and aren't custom-built to suit our needs and tastes. Overall, we are very happy with what we have for what we paid.

As Crystal would say, "You did GOOD, boo!"


#roubus #skoolie #schoolbusconversion #schoolbus #busconversion #thibodaux #louisiana #skoolieconversion

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