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A DIY fan has revealed how he transformed an old bus he picked up from a scrapyard into a sustainable rent-free tiny home – so he could save to get on the property ladder.
Luke Whitaker, 37, from Gloucestershire, had just moved back to his home town to live with his parents in a bid to save money for a house deposit when the coronavirus lockdown hit the UK.
The landscape architect says his parents were happy for him to move back to the farm they owned and to provide a helping hand around the place, but that his father was concerned about the potential impact of catching Covid.
The family decided they needed a safer living solution and so Luke and his father Joe Whitaker, 63, bought a BMC Falcon 2001 vehicle from a bus breakers yard in Hereford for just £1,300.
Luke Whitaker, 37, from Gloucestershire, bought an old bus for £1,300 and spent £8,500 on making it suitable to live in. Pictured: The interior after renovation
Before: Luke found the bus at a scrapyard and luckily it was completely watertight and structurally sound – making it possible to convert into a tiny home
Luke’s partner Nikisha McIntosh, 33, (pictured right) got involved in the final stages of renovation after the couple met on dating app Bumble
Luke slowly transformed the old bus into a chic modern and bright home so he could live on his parents’ land rent-free
Living in the bus allowed Luke to continue working and save money for a house of his own, while also keeping himself and his family socially distanced as the coronavirus spread.
As the bus had a seized engine, there was never any question of driving it anywhere. However, it didn’t leak and the structural elements were solid, which, he says, made it a great base for a quirky homestead on the farm.
Luke spent £8,500 on completely stripping and redecorating the interior of the vehicle, learning conversion and DIY skills from YouTube along the way.
Having lived in the bus for two months now, Luke has been able to save £2,000 – which is triple what he could save when he was renting a home.
Halfway through the build, Luke met media producer Nikisha McIntosh, 33, on Bumble and the two hit it off, even using the bus as a second date spot as a result of the pubs being closed.
Nikisha got involved in the final stages of the conversion by choosing the soft furnishings and now stays with Luke in the bus at weekends.
Luke decided to live in a bus after moving back to his parents’ farm to save for his own house amid the pandemic. Pictured: Luke in the dining area
Before: The bus had a seized engine, but the structural elements were solid enough for conversion. Pictured: The bus at a bus breakers yard
After: With some outdoor paint Luke managed to give the shabby exterior of the bus a fresh look – with blinds helping cover the windows
Luke used YouTube tutorials to learn the necessary DIY skills for the renovation, spending £8,500 on stripping and redecorating the interior
Luke said his father ‘was very worried’ about coronavirus and the bus seemed like a ‘great idea’ to allow him to work without the risk of bringing the virus home. Pictured: Dining area in the bus
‘I decided to buy the bus in the first lockdown,’ said Luke.
‘It was about saving money to get onto the property ladder. I had just moved back to my parent’s house to help save money to buy my own house when lockdown happened and I decided to buy the bus.
‘My father was very worried about coronavirus and decided we needed a safer living solution that would allow me to keep saving money and go to work without the risk of bringing the virus into the family home.’
During: He said he watched loads of YouTube videos to learn how to do most of the internal carpentry work
After: Luke and Nikisha claim the best thing about living on the bus is the outdoor space and short amount of time it takes to clean. Pictured: The kitchen and wood burner
‘It also meant I could stay on the farm, so it meant I could also have a day-to-day presence on the farm which made it easier on my parents too.
‘The bus is very small but as it’s out in nature, I never feel like I need more space.’
The couple says the best thing about living on the bus is the outdoor space, being on the farm, and the connection to nature as well as cleaning the house only takes five minutes because of the small size.
However, it does come with some downsides including the lack of storage space which meant Luke had to reduce what he owned by a considerable amount and the lack of a washing machine meaning trips back into the family home.
‘I’ve loved learning all the really useful DIY skills,’ added Luke.
Luke revealed he has plans to Airbnb the bus throughout August to help pay for some of the costs. Pictured: The kitchen inside the bus
‘So far, we’ve had to strip the seats and heaters out, put in a new floor, insulate and panel the sides, build the bedroom area and fit the kitchen.
‘The hardest part was fitting the chimney. I watched loads of YouTube videos first – it was scary making the first cut as if I’d got it wrong we would have been left with a huge hole in the roof.
‘I think to help pay for some of the costs we’re planning to Airbnb the bus exclusively for August and afterwards return it to a farm living space.
‘Nikisha loves the bus and finds it a lovely and relaxing place to stay. Most people I tell absolutely love the bus and friends ask if they can stay in it.
‘It’s had an amazing reaction from friends and on social media with loads of shares from tiny home and bus living Instagram accounts. It’s been really quite overwhelming.
‘It’s amazing to see an idea come to reality. I still can’t quite believe we did it.’
Before: He had to strip the seats and heaters out, put in a new floor and insulate and panel the sides
During: Luke said the hardest part was fitting the chimney because it ‘was scary’ making the first cut as if he got it wrong he would have been left with ‘a huge hole in the roof’
After: He finally built the bedroom area and fit the new modern kitchen, keeping the cupboards a neutral colour to create a bright space