Phone App Developer Moves Family of Five Into Bus Conversion
- Written By: Brock Butterfield
- Conversion By: Trebitowski Family
"Teaching kids to use their inside voices" is one thing that the Trebitowski's have found challenging with bus life. Living in a 288 sq. ft bus conversion is tricky with a family of five but the Trebitowski's make it work. What started out as a desire to take the family on more camping trips quickly escalated to turning a full size school bus into a tiny home.
I had the chance to interview the Trebitowski's and got to learn how they're able to live full time on the road by running a 10 person software company that develops apps for phones.
-Make: Blue Bird
-Model: All American
-Motor: Cummins 8.3
-Interior Square Footage: 288 Sqft
-Current Location: Seaside, Oregon
-Purchased From/Location: We purchased the bus from Ennis, Texas from a small church.
-Cost in materials for the conversion: $21,000
-Is the conversion complete or still in progress? Complete
-Does your bus have a name? Blue Steel, because its really really ridiculously good looking
Tell us a bit about how the idea to build a bus into a home on wheels came about.
It all started when I got the wild idea in my head that I wanted to do more camping as a family. Knowing that there was no chance I would get my wife to “tent camp”, I decided to purchase a trailer. So, within a day, we had one selected and headed to Tuscon, AZ where we picked her up. Never having towed anything in my life, I was terrified to take it on the long drive home. 7 long hours later and we were back. The only problem was: this trailer looked like every other camper trailer (a 90’s themed, floral print wallpaper, fake wood grained disaster). After about 3 weeks, we had beautified the trailer and began taking trips. We were hooked!
After a while, our friends (miller_adventures) and (strugglebusadventure) decided to join the party. While the strugglebusadventure friends started with a tent trailer, miller_adventures opted for a school bus. I will never forget the day Denver Miller sent me a photo of himself sipping a Big Gulp and sitting behind the wheel of a 40’ school bus. I thought he was absolutely insane. He and his family began their conversion shortly after with the intention of selling their house, moving in to their bus and parking in our backyard.
After spending a few Saturdays helping the Millers work on their bus, my wife and I got the itch to do our own. At the time, we really intended on just using it as an RV and still living in our 2100 square foot home. Within a few months of the Millers completing their bus, they found renters for their house and moved on to our property.
Once my wife found the bus of our dreams, Denver and I boarded a flight to Texas and the rest is history…
Who is involved or part of the crew with your bus?
Denver and Vanessa Miller were a God send during our conversion. Denver’s knowledge and Vanessa’s perfectly planned meals were the only reasons we didn’t give up and walk away at times.
We also had help from many other family members and friends mentioned below:
and countless babysitters during the last couple weeks of the build
What materials did you use during your build? Any reclaimed/upcycled items?
Lowes and Home Depot for wood and walls, kitchen cabinets were from Lowes, sinks and faucets were bought on amazon, Magic Chef 9.9 cu. ft. refrigerator and Allure vinyl plank flooring was purchased at Home Depot, Natures Head Composting toilet bought on Amazon, Home depot for PVC trim to trim the curves (it's only sold at Home Depot and its amazing), and our RV windows we bought on Ebay. We have a company credit card through chase (Ink Bold) that does 5 times the points for purchases at office supply stores such as Staples or Office Max so we purchased Amazon, Ebay, and Lowes gift cards there and earned a ton of points from all the purchases.
How many can the bus sleep and how is the sleeping arrangement designed?
3 twin beds, king size in the master, couch converts to a queen
What is your kitchen and cooking setup?
What is your power source?
We have designed our bus to use as little power as possible. Therefore most of the power comes from solar + batteries. It is also designed to plug into shore power when we are staying in RV parks.
Do you have a heat source for colder weather?
If we have hookups, we prefer to use thermostated space heaters. When boon docking, Mr. Heater Buddy 4000-9000 BTU indoor propane heaters works well
How do you stay cool in the hot summer months?
We have two ACs on the roof powered either by shore power or a generator when we are driving.
What are you doing for water source? Do you have a bathroom solution for the "rumble guts" hit?
For water we have a 100 gallon water tank on board with a 45PSI water pump. We also have a city inlet for when we are hooked up at RV parks. All of our sinks and shower drain to a 60 gallon gray water tank underneath which can be dumped at any dump station or using a hose to a bush in a pinch.
For a toilet, we use a Nature’s Head composting toilet
What is the most unique feature of your conversion?
We have a RV awning and I don’t know if this is “unique” but I have yet to see a skoolie with a king sized bed in the back. We don’t compromise when it comes to sleep.
What do you do for income while living in the bus?
I run a 10-person software company (http://pixegon.com) focusing on building iOS and Android apps. We have been building a distributed team/business for the past 4 years, so moving on to the road has had no impact on the business.
What do you do for Internet while on the road?
We use a combination of things. In order of preference based on availability:
1. RV Park Wifi (almost never fast enough for us)
2. Local coffee shop wifi
3. Verizon Jetpack hotspot
What’s the hardest thing about living bus life?
Lack of personal space. Its surprising how often you think “get out of my way” on the daily but at all times you’re in each other's way. Also having one bathroom between 5 people, 1 of those people being a potty training two year old who knows the minute you sit on the toilet and instantly goes into emergency I need to pee mode. Teaching kids to use their inside voices, our house handled the noise much better.
Where can people follow or find out more about your bus? (social media, website, etc.)