Friends struggling to buy a house convert old bus into camper van

Friends struggling to buy a house convert old bus into camper van

06/26/2022

The property scene is terrifying and it’s getting even harder to buy.

Two friends who have been struggling with this have decided to take matters into their own hands – by creating a luxury camper van to rent out.

Alex Nicholson and Raife Maddox, both 29, bought a 1995 Mercedes Plaxton bus from Northern Ireland for £5,500 in April 2020.

They then worked on renovating the old school bus – turning it into a luxury home on wheels.

It’s now got laminate-style flooring, a tiled kitchen and even a log burner.

Alex, Raife and their friend Alix Keetley, decided to work together after being unable to afford a first home of their own.



The 34-seater bus was originally used to transport passengers in Northern Ireland towards the end of the troubles up until 2017.

Today, it looks very different.

The impressive 8 metre (26ft) long and 3 metre (9ft) wide vehicle features its own bathroom, shower and a bedroom space – which can sleep three adults.

Alex, who sometimes sleeps in the vehicle after visiting the pub, says he did most of the work during lockdown when he was looking for a creative project to occupy his time.


The carpenter, from Moseley, Birmingham, says: ‘We bought it at the beginning of lockdown in April 2020.

‘It was planned as a lockdown project. We were a long way off being able to afford a first home of our home.

‘So this was our way of sort of getting on the property ladder as a way to put money into something to make some money from.

‘We knew we’d have the time with everything closing, we thought it would be a great idea to have a go at something creative with all this free time.

‘We’d bought it off a guy in Coventry who had started converting it into a campervan but he had only got as far as the plumbing and roof panels.

‘He ripped the seats out for us but it was still a blank canvas. We gutted whatever else was in there and we designed as we went along.

‘It took just over a year to complete from start to finish.

‘We just wanted to make it look desirable. We did have plans to make it an Airbnb and that was part of the plans.’

While they planned this, they’ve since decided to cash in on their fixer-upper – after struggling find a place to store it in Birmingham.


The trio are now selling the mint-coloured camper van on Facebook Marketplace for £25,000 after investing £10,000 in total.

Alex continues: ‘We wanted to find some land, near some nice countryside and rent it out.

‘That was the hope. It could still be the appeal for someone who wanted to buy it. Should someone have the land, it would be a popular business opportunity.

‘We’ve chucked thousands at it. I would definitely be open to doing something like that again.

‘It’s only because of a change of circumstances has forced us all to sell it, sadly. We’re struggling for storage as we live in the city.

‘I’ve also struggled to get my C1 license to be able to drive it. There has been a backlog due to Covid and it also costs to get lessons.

‘So we thought the best idea was for somebody else to enjoy it. We’ll be sad to see it go but whoever buys it will get an amazing place.’


The sofa bed in there is made from scratch with interlocking slats that Alex added in – so it can be pulled out and be manipulated to make the most of the space inside.

There’s also a wood burner for chilly nights, a water tank so you can shower, and a cute barn-style door.

Alex adds: ‘I like designing things and making things. I guess the inspiration has been the thirst for creativity.

‘Projects really appeal to me. It’s like a mental challenge. We can all kind of give each other a kick if needed.

‘It has all the home comforts – hot water, log burner, cooker – you could pretty much live in here.’

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