Whew, the past two months have been busy!
September saw us working on the bus at a frenetic pace – with me doing construction full-time, and Ryan joining me in the evenings after his 9 to 5 day ended. Weekends were longer. (As noted in the last post, all of this effort paid off.)
If September felt long due to the number of work hours logged, October felt longer for just the opposite reason. Once we passed a certain point within the conversion process we were ready to move on to the next stage: paperwork.
If you’ve ever had to jump through bureaucratic hoops, you might be able to guess that this stage was characterized by short bursts of statute-induced anxiety, followed by long periods of waiting. As this blog has focused solely on construction to date, I’ll clarify the administrative portion of the conversion process below.
We’ve known from the start that in order for us to legally drive our converted bus, the whole vehicle would need to be reclassified as a motor home by the Texas DMV. The process of doing this is multi-step, each of which needs to be completed in sequential order.
Step 1: Meeting the Conversion Requirements
The state of Texas legally defines a motor home as meeting the following criteria:
“(B) contains at least four of the following independent life support systems that are permanently installed …
(i) a cooking facility with an on-board fuel source;
(ii) a gas or electric refrigerator;
(iii) a toilet with exterior evacuation;
(iv) a heating or air conditioning system with an on-board power or fuel source separate from the vehicle engine;
(v) a potable water supply system that includes at least a sink, a faucet, and a water tank with an exterior service supply connection; or
(vi) a 110-125 volt electric power supply.”
Part of what has made this project span such a long period of time (besides those pesky full-time jobs and our general procrastination) is that we had to meet the criteria above before even starting the reclassification process.
Once we were finally ready, the first step was obtaining RV insurance.
Time to complete: 18 months
Step 2: Insurance
Here in Texas, owners are required to purchase a minimum amount of liability insurance in order to show “proof of financial responsibility” for their vehicles. Providing said proof is basically the linchpin for getting just about anything done with the DMV.
Insuring a 35 foot converted school-bus RV is a bit of a tall order, and after some digging, we were able to find just two companies offering decent coverage for such a vehicle: National General & Good Sam.
In order to obtain coverage, we had to first submit photographic proof that the vehicle had been completely converted an met the standards listed in Step 1. Fortunately, due to our blogging habits, we had plenty of photos to choose from. This was then followed by a few days of eager waiting while a team of mysterious underwriters determined our fate.
Total time to complete: 3 days
Step 3: Safety Inspection & Weight Certificate
Step #3 was fairly easy to complete, thanks to a local diesel shop. In addition to being really excited about the fact that we had converted a school bus, they also completed some mechanical work for a decent price. Finding a certified weigh station in Austin proved to be challenging, but the diesel shop mechanics were able to give us a referral to the only one in town. (It’s way under the radar and hidden in an industrial scrap-metal yard…)
As a side note, we did have to obtain a temporary driving permit in order to drive the bus around during this time. These are super easy to get, and can be purchased online & printed at home for $25.
Total time to complete: 1.5 weeks
Step 4: Title Application & Registration
The last hurdle in all of this was to actually file our application for a reclassified title. This is where the bulk of the “paperworkin’ ” (can I copyright that phrase?) transpired. All in all our application included 6 different forms & supporting documents (yeeesh), and had to be sent to parts unknown of the DMV for “special processing review”, followed by a few weeks of waiting.
Total time to complete: 3 weeks from filing date
The end result of all of this? Success!
We’re now the proud, legal owners of a motor home. *Tear*
So what’s next?
Unfortunately, we do need to repair some minor interior water damage resulting from the recent rainstorms and floods that hit Austin. Once that is completed, we’ll move on to the painting & decorating stage (YES!), and road test her a bit more to iron out any performance kinks.
Stick around for more posts soon!