~Dreaming of the perfect floor plan for your bus conversion can be the most exciting part of the build. Here are a few ways other skoolies have accomplished the task.
~Written by: Brock Butterfield
Like most good and fun ideas it starts as a simple sketch on a napkin or scratch piece of paper. In this article I'll touch on a few methods skoolie owners used to plan their school bus conversion floor plan.
There's just something about drawing a tiny living space that takes me back to being a kid and drawing tree houses when I was supposed to be paying attention in class. Suzie Moreland sent us a hand sketched pencil drawing on graph paper, all drawn to scale (except for her 6 yr olds additions), erased and rearranged many times, rained on, milk spilled on, torn, and now cut by scissors (the 6 yr old again).
Beth Hodges from @the198bus demonstrates the use of graph paper for their floor plans in their 35 foot long school bus conversion.
Emily Sehl of @ineffablestitch shows that you can also accomplish the same task without graph paper. These are the floor plans for her 5 window short school bus.
3D Modeling Software
A simple but complex 3D modeling software, Sketch Up is free to download for "personal" use. If you take measurements of everything, and I mean everything in your bus then you can recreate the interior or exterior of your bus and start building the floor plan by adding walls, sinks, wood stoves, beds, etc. It takes time to learn and lots of time to measure every little thing from the wheel wells to the curve of the ceiling but it can get you a very precise floor plan to build off of.
Below we have a great example of a school bus conversion floor plan from Andy Yauger of @burlbus
Another method I just learned about is using Grid in Notability on an iPad so that you can hand sketch and alter as needed. Ronni Hall from @artfulfaithjournaling sent us her bus conversion floor plan sketch for an example.
Daniel and Lauren Lipschitz have art degrees and found that a combination of drawing up the layout in Solidworks and making notes in Adobe Illustrator came in hand for their @baihubus floor plan.
I personally used a combination of hand sketch on grid paper and then took measurements and laid out the floor plans for my second school bus conversion in Adobe Photoshop as I'm more familiar with that program and was already paying for it.
There is no right or wrong way for laying out the floor plans for your skoolie. Realistically it's going to change many times before and during the build as you start to get a feel for the space. One pro tip I can offer is once you have a floor plan that you're pretty set on, grab some masking tape (see below) and use it to mimic the lines of your floor plan to get a feel it. With my first bus conversion I had totally forgot about the wheel wells and had to start over to work around them. In my second skoolie I realized my door to my bathroom was way too small to fit through even sideways so that forced me to rethink my kitchen in order to gain four more inches.