By Elena Gorgan—One man’s junk is another man’s treasure, especially if the latter man has extensive knowledge in design, is skilled with his hands, and has enough free time to throw himself into an extended project. This is the story of Luke Whitaker and the very rustic city bus conversion he calls home.
During the 2020 lockdown, when most of the world was making bread with sourdough, baking cookies, or growing avocados on the balcony, Luke Whitaker was converting an old and discarded city bus into a tiny home. This kind of story is not infrequent in the vanlife community, but unlike most builds we usually cover, Luke’s home on wheels doesn’t move. It is, instead, a very beautiful example of upcycling.
Luke Whitaker is a 37-year-old landscape architect and designer, who now residents on his parents’ farm in the Cotswolds countryside, in the UK. With the first worldwide lockdown prompted by the ongoing international health crisis, he decided to move back in with his folks, to save up money on rent. Farming was fun, but at one point, he started thinking about picking up another project that might occupy his time.
Since he was already saving money from not paying rent, he came up with the idea of a tiny, one that he would not have break the bank for. For only £1,300 (less than $1,700 at the current exchange rate), he bought an old, decommissioned 2001 BMC Falcon city bus that had been used extensively for the local commute. Now with a busted engine, it was no longer salvageable in any way – not for road use, at least.
Luke bought the bus and set out to convert it into a tiny home. First, he had to have it towed to his parents’ farm, where it remains to this day. Having this piece of land meant that he didn’t have to worry about making the bus run again: it would be a home on wheels alright, but a stationary one. Luke was delighted at the prospect of being able to upcycle the bus, and you can tell that from some of the details in the final build.
Luke stripped the 13-meter (42.6-foot) bus that once sat 45 people, and worked on it for more than a year to turn it into a home. To cut down costs, he kept as much of the original as he could and, just as importantly, he did most of the work himself, using YouTube tutorials to guide him. For instance, the roof is the original one, as are all the light fixtures and the entire front section, with the driver’s seat, the steering wheel and the dash. Even the old CCTV cameras are still in place, though they merely serve a decorative purpose now.
The rest of the bus has been turned into a cozy tiny for two people, with a full kitchen, a lounge, a dining area, and an elevated master bedroom that you can completely close off for privacy. The kitchen has a deep Belfast sink, a two-burner gas burner, a fridge / freezer, and an oven, and storage space abounds throughout. For colder days, there’s a fireplace that is in keeping with the rustic styling.
Since Luke never meant for the bus home to go anywhere, he hooked it up to his parents’ home for electricity and water. In the video below, he explains that running the appliances on solar power would have been difficult in the wintertime, since the UK is not exactly famous for being sunny.
What the bus home doesn’t have is a water heater or an indoor bathroom. The former is solved by boiling a kettle, while the latter is located outside, in a specially-built shack. Luke calls it a glamping shower: an elevated wooden construction with a heated shower and a composting toilet, which offers enough privacy but is open so that you can still feel you’re one with nature.
Also outside is a secondary dining area, with a table and seating, a barbecue and a fire pit. Again, given the infamously-fickle British weather, this probably gets limited use.
Luke lives in the house bus with his partner, including well into late autumn (November), when temperatures drop. For two months each summer, he offers the place for tourists on Airbnb, so he can further save up for what will be his future (non-tiny) home. No word on how much he’s saved so far, but considering this entire built only set him back £10,000 (approximately $13,000 at the current exchange rate), and he’s no longer paying rent, he couldn’t be more happy with it.
Follow Luke on his IG page.
(Source: Autoevolution. No copyright infringement intended.)