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Geoff converted this school bus from 1986 into a house on wheels Home Renovation


It’s an unconventional story about Home Reno, dating, and traveling in New Zealand.

On a foggy morning in Christchurch, Mary and Geoff sit comfortably in the living room of a former Ritchies school bus.

Geoff gets up to greet me through the manual folding door and I am immediately greeted by the warmth from the inside.

The 11-meter vehicle now houses Geoff, a luxury tour bus driver who has set himself the task of converting the 1986 Hino Blue Ribbon into a drivable house bus.

The border closures left Geoff without a job, but he chose to see the silver lining. Geoff says that over time he looks forward to freedom the most on his side, from the tour with lots of buses to just two.

“Just the freedom to stop and explore,” says Geoff.

Traveling with him is companion Mary, a 53-year-old retired teacher and vice president of Christchurch North Community Patrol, who says it’s nice to have some peace and quiet on the street.

“And yet I can drive the patrol from the bus, that’s the funny thing about it,” laughs Mary.

Before we show how Builderscrack fits into this story, let’s rewind.

How two paths crossed

Geoff and Mary met four and a half years ago – but not as you would expect.

“We met on the Internet,” says Geoff with a smile and awaits my answer.

“I was looking for someone … and it was fun, I talked to Mary and said, ‘I’m a tour driver – do you want some fruit? ‘Because we get fruit from the orchards down there in Cromwell.

“And she said ‘Oh yes, I love apricots’ – so I bought her a box of apricots, took the courage and went to her.”

A home on wheels

The desire to convert a bus into a home began when Geoff helped a friend who built two buses from scratch.

“And I thought one day I would like to do one of them myself,” says Geoff, “but I was working hard at the time.”

Geoff later bought his bus, aptly renamed “My Caboose,” for $ 9,000 in 2012 and has invested approximately $ 45,000 since then.

“When I got it, it had all the seats – everything,” says Geoff.

“I ripped them all out – you can see where some of the handrails were,” said Geoff.

“In the beginning, I did most of the things myself, but I tried to work at the same time. And thought, if I don’t get anyone to do any of that, I’ll never make it. “

While Geoff has no photos of the original with the seats, he has this progress picture

The problem

Over the years, Geoff has steadily improved his home. The most recent added value is its recycled Rimu dining table, which was specially made for its motorized, retractable flat-screen TV unit.

But with the possibility of a longer trip on the horizon, the finishing touches had to be – well, done.

“It didn’t have any [carpet]It was down to the blue plastic floor, ”says Geoff and shows me the old, non-slip surface.

Described as cold, dirty, and greasy, Mary explains that the floor must have been the last job completed.

“Otherwise, the carpet would have been messed up before we got anywhere,” says Mary.

The solution

Mary – referred to by Geoff as a tech savvy – got the materials and craft for the job.

For the entrance and the bedroom, Mary was able to bargain for high-quality carpets. and for the kitchen vinyl floorboards.

The tradie

It had been difficult for Geoff and Mary to find a good tradition for the job.

“Most run for cover when you say it’s a house bus,” laughs Mary.


With her iPad on hand, Mary typed “carpet layers” into Google and came across the solution to her flooring needs.

“I had never heard of Builderscrack – it seemed like a funny name to me,” says Mary with a shy grin.

Both Geoff and Mary shared how surprised they were when a builderscrack dealer showed interest in their job. Danny from ADE Construct Limited responded to their job ad within an hour, organized a site visit shortly after, and sent an offer the next day.

“Sometimes you try to make contact and you don’t hear anything back … but he was right on the ball,” says Geoff.

Danny from ADE Construct Limited

The work

The carpet and floor were ready in two days, and Danny mentioned how grateful he was for work like this in wet and cold weather.

“This job is difficult – a small room with lots of cuttings,” says Danny.

Mary quickly mentions that Danny was very good at solving problems since it was a difficult job.

“There wasn’t enough space under the toilet door, so he took it off and cut it off,” explains Mary.

The result

Both Geoff and Mary rate their flooring results very highly.

“He did a great job, especially when you look at the bedroom, that’s perfect,” says Mary, looking at the soft carpet.

Freshly laid flooring (next step: cleaning excess glue)

While Geoff is making tea and coffee for us in the kitchen, he thinks about doing something different with his house bus.

“If someone else tried it …” he begins.

“It took me a long time to find this design, and I went into almost every house bus I’ve seen. And I could see mistakes in it – a guy had a small table that came out so far, ”Geoff measures with his arms outstretched.

“And I said no, that’s not a good thing … When I looked around and of course chose my friend’s brain, I came up with this design. And I still love this design – I don’t regret it like everyone else, ”beamed Geoff.

“I think we’re pretty happy with things, aren’t we?” Mary adds.

Before and after

House bus properties

  • Two registered seats for the trip
  • Sofa and Rimu dining table
  • Retractable flat screen TV
  • Kitchen and pantry
  • Storage cabinets
  • Carpet and vinyl flooring
  • Diesel ceramic table top
  • Portable gas hob
  • Combined fridge and freezer
  • washing machine and dryer
  • Toilet and shower
  • Double bed with storage space
  • 4,300 watt inverter
  • 550 amp hours
  • Diesel heating
  • Solar panels
  • Wireless Internet access

Thoughts on The Tradie

“Danny was quick, very professional, knowledgeable, skilled – all that, wasn’t it?” Notes Mary, as Geoff nods in agreement as he carefully places our hot drinks and a pack of ginger nuts on a placemat.

It turns out that this is the first time that you are dining at the shiny Rimu table.

Thoughts about Builderscrack

Geoff says he wished he knew about BC earlier.

“I could have used it to do most of it, not all, but most of it,” says Geoff.

“I have a few other small jobs ahead of me. A macerator switch, the toilet has to be properly attached and I have to wait a bit. “

Mary tells me that sometimes it was difficult to find good people before they knew about BC.

“And you kind of had to put up with what you got.”

Mary liked the format of the artisans that stretched out, and she said it was easy to follow.

“It’s a great way to find artisans – give it a try,” she encourages other homeowners.

Travel on the horizon

With no end date set for the border closings, Geoff can roam freely until he receives the call that the tours start again.

And as a team, Mary and Geoff list the many places on the South Island that they want to explore. It is now clear that this is a trip of a lifetime that many people dream of.

“I hope we will travel for six months,” says Geoff.

With many friends she can visit along the way, Mary likes to talk about a former student she keeps in touch with and wants to visit in Richmond.

And when we finished our morning tea, I asked Geoff the name of the bus and with a grin he said to me:

“I chose the name before I bought the bus … it just seemed to fit what I wanted to use it for.”

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