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School buses turned into homes becoming big business for Denver team

Offering a new way to afford mobile housing
Posted at 6:08 PM, Jan 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-09 20:08:23-05

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DENVER -- The wheels on the bus are going round and round for a new and growing purpose in Denver. A local company is transforming school buses into homes you can take on the road, helping our growing Colorado.

“It’s definitely become more of what I think you would call a movement,” said Charlie Kern, Owner and Co-founder of Chrome Yellow Corporation.

Kern co-founded the company in 2008 and began managing operations for Bus to Show, a non-profit bus company aimed at reducing the social impact (drunk driving, carbon footprint, etc.) of nightlife and entertainment events.

At the time Kern was also searching for a new way to afford housing and achieve sustainable living.

“I was looking for a place to live and really kind of missed out on the housing market. I just wasn’t really finding anything I could afford,” said Kern. “I decided to take the money I had and build a school bus out for myself.”

Fast forward years later, Kern and his team at Chrome Yellow are booked through the summer building school buses turned into homes known as “skoolies” for their customers.

“While for me it serves the purpose of giving me an affordable place to live I think for a lot of people it’s a way of life, a way to travel the country, to have a house that you can own that you can afford and don’t have to take out a mortgage for,” said Kern.

Since 2014 Chrome Yellow has designed living spaces in short buses, medium buses, and full-size school buses. The company has also designed several mobile business buses including grocery stores, therapy clinics, boutiques, coffee shops, and consulting spaces.

The Denver based team said it is no easy task working with a bus.

“Fundamentally it’s a remodel,” said Kern. “When you get in there you realize that no bus has straight walls no bus is square everything is off slightly."

Kern said there are similarities between skoolies and the tiny home movement, but he believes the main difference is the portability.

“A bus is a lot more portable. It’s meant to travel where a tiny house is more something you would tow to a destination and leave there,” said Kern.

One of Chrome Yellow’s current projects is a tour bus.

“A 1991 Crown Super Coach that was rescued from California, it was actually going to be scrapped,” said Kern. “It’s currently being retrofitted to become a home for some local musicians who have a family and want to be able to take their family on the road as they tour with them.”

The team said building the buses is not the destination, rather a different way to tackle housing in a new direction.

“You've got to pay for gas and there will be breakdowns of course but you have a freedom and a cost of living that can't really compare to a brick and mortar house,” said Kern.

The big question is how much do these buses cost? Kern said the price can range from around $25,000-$35,000 for a small bus to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a large bus with all of the amenities and high tech additions.