Coming Up With A Floorplan
The floorplan is the first step in decision-making about your bus conversion.
You'll probably draw a lot of floorplans before beginning actual construction. They should be drawn as close to scale as possible. Start with a rectangle the size of your interior floor, and draw in the wheel wells, since they're the major feature you have to work around.
The Drop Floor
The drop floor is a major concern for most convertors. Some choose to cover over the aisle, but then, you'll have to listen to the complaints of every 6-footer who ever comes into your coach - and the headroom's kind of nice for we short people, too! It's possible to retain most of the drop-center aisle, after all, you'll have some dinette space and counter space, and a closet, counter space, and possibly a settee of some sort, all of which can easily be "stepped up" to. We chose to cover the aisle at the rear, in our bedroom area, since neither of us needs the headroom, and it gives a great under-floor storage space for tools, a wine rack, or whatever comes to mind.
The window placement is another consideration which needs to be worked around with floor plan design. The dinette, for instance, wants to be confined to a space between inter-window panels. The basic Clipper gives more flxibility (sorry! - couldn't help it!) in this regard, since there are more intra-window spaces of more sizes. The Visicoach gives you 3 big windows and one small one, around which you must fit all your "spaces."
The drawing shows how we worked it out. Down the right side, from the rear, the long window and the short one define the bedroom area. A bulkhead separates this from the dinette - one long window. The remaining long window defines the space in front of the settee, which we will initially use just for a settee/box over the wheel well, and a drawer cabinet. On the the left side, the first long window is covered, and defines the area of the closet and refrigerator enclosure. The second one the countertop and stove space, then the small window and remaining large one the other side of the bedroom area. We decided to retain the bulkhead separating the baggage area, and used Plexiglas windows to admit more light.
The drawing is of course just one of many many ways you may choose to partition the inside of your Clipper. In fact, by the time we finished ours, there were modifications to this original plan. But it is madness to begin without a fairly detailed plan in mind, as the cabinetwork and interior bulkheads must be designed around the realities of plumbing, tank positioning, etc.
House Wiring And Plumbing
It is a good idea to plan your house wiring carefully during the floor planning stage. You'll need to run wiring for lights and power points - receptacles - both 120 and 12V. You'll also require speaker wires, TV conduit between outside antennas, cable connection points, VCR and such. It's best to have the wires and connection points ready so that you can string them under the paneling and within the cabinetwork as you proceed with the "large muscle" activities of interior finishing. Pulling down edges of paneling and slipping wires up underneath for the whole length of the bus can get really boring, sometimes. (Don't ask!) And the same applies, only moreso, for plumbing. So, from the beginning, plan for eventual locations of sinks, toilets, light fixtures and switches, heating ducts, thermostat, air conditioners, power points, and cords for all this. Also for planned locations of TV set, VCR, sat receiver, shore cable connection, and therefore vhf connections and cable run in advance of paneling.
It seems everyone has a different idea of how they want their motorhome to be arranged. From "party bus" through "band bus" to "full-time live-aboard," the specs vary widely. But here are some considerations that seem to me to be universal.
When you're on the road, entertaining becomes a real consideration. In times of less than perfect weather, you're going to find yourself inviting new (today) or old (yesterday) friends in for a chat or a drink. I've always tended to think of which area to have where in terms of closeness of potential users to the "inner circle." Meaning, for example, that, since only a few of those who enter the rig will require entry to the bedroom, the logical place is at the rear - furthest from the door. Let's look at such considerations in detail:
Short-term visitors should be able to find a spot to sit down fairly close to the front door - no need for them to be traipsing the whole length of your home, after all. So a casual seat or two up close to the front is usually a good idea.
Don't forget Closet Space! If you don't have somewhere for wet coats, for example, the first time you come in from a rainy day, you'll soon discover a need for somewhere to put those wet coats! If your closet is halfway up the bus - or worse still, at the very rear, in the bedroom - you'll soon have a mess of muddy footprints testifying to the fact that it may have been better to have a closet up front. - And this consideration becomes even more important for the "casuals!"
Where is your dinette space? Once again, most people prefer to have this slighly more intimate "visitor area" as close to the door as possible - no reason to have non-family personnel wandering all over your home just to find a place to sit down for lunch or coffee!
As we go down the list of need for access to the front door, next is the food prep area. You will likely want refrigerator access to be close to the visitor/hospitality area, and the sink and stove can be further away - no need for "stranger" access to these, in most cases.
Toilet And Personal Washing
You will most likely want to place these behind the kitchen, although if you envision a great deal of entertaining, possibly ahead.
For reasons already covered by now, most people will put the bedroom at the very rear. - And don't forget, in your planning, an emergency exit of some kind. Putting your bedroom at the rear means escape considerations - No fun to wake up to a fire in the kitchen in the middle of the night and not have a rear entrance - a pop-out window at the very least. We have one of those, and a doorway at bunk level into the baggage area as well.
This should be a consideration from the beginning of your planning process. You will want to have a place for provisions - groceries, beverages, etc., pots and pans, extra clothing, dirty laundry, trash, books, puzzles, games, etc., tools, spare parts, the list can be endless. These can be under seats, the kitchen cabinets, overhead cabinets, the base of the closet, under the bed, and, in the case of the Clipper Baggage Room, closet space there as well.
I hope this quick overview will prove to be of help in planning your interior. These are only some of the considerations, and please bear in mind that it is very important to get these properly planned for.