The 27-year-old was a student at the University of Minnesota's School of Architecture when he revamped the bus for his senior thesis project.
Tired of designing hypothetical spaces on paper, Butitta bought the bus on Craigslist for $3,000 and got to work.
All the moving parts can be rearranged to accommodate sleeping, living, and storage, and Butitta ended up winning a critic's choice award from the school.
The repurposed 225-square-foot space can now sleep six, and Butitta and his friend, photographer Justin Evidon, are driving the bus 5,000 miles on an epic road trip.
They've picked up and dropped off friends along the way, and have seen various national parks and monuments. They're chronicling it all in a blog called Hank Bought A Bus. We spoke to Hank about his inspiration, the road trip, and, of course, all the logistics of DIY-ing a mobile home.
HANK BUTITTA: I wanted to build a small cabin on 80 acres of land owned by my grandfather just north of the Wisconsin Dells. After doing some research, I realized that the building code wouldn't allow us to build anything smaller than 600 square feet and would require all kinds of costly permits.
If we built our cabin on wheels and registered it as vehicle, we could build as small as we wanted without having to worry about permits. This idea was tossed around for a few years, but it wasn't until a week before my thesis was supposed to start that I needed to find a project. I impulsively bought a bus and converted it to earn my Masters of Architecture at the University of Minnesota.
BI: How did you manage to buy a bus?
HB: I found the bus on Craigslist, where I find most of my quirky treasures. I paid $3,000 for a bus that ran well and provided me 225 square feet of living space, complete with windows and doors!
BI: You're on a long road trip right now. What places do you plan to hit along the way and where do you ultimately hope to end up?
HB: The journey is a round trip from Minneapolis, and includes a number of major cities, national parks, and visits to friends all along the way. We've been through Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Denver, and Kansas City, and have stopped at Devils Tower, Yellowstone, Redwood National Park, Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Arches National Parks. It's a shame we can't spend more time in any one spot, but there are so many places to see!
BI: That sounds awesome. But we're curious: How does the whole plumbing situation work?
HB: Currently we have a portable toilet in the bathroom, and a foot-pump sink in the kitchen. There are plans for more integrated plumbing, but these temporary systems were enough to get us on the road for the trip!
BI: Is this something that you two are hoping to expand upon in the future, i.e. remodeling other buses and selling them?
HB: There are definitely plans to continue the project, but there is more to be learned on our existing bus before the next one is converted. We're still very much in the prototype phase. For the next step we would like to do another cross country tour, this time stopping at Architecture schools and tiny house or sustainability conferences to share our story.
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