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Which Choice Would you make?

  • Used + Better Build

    Votes: 2 11.1%
  • New + Lesser Build

    Votes: 16 88.9%
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Discussion Starter #1
This is just a thought excercise question because it's one I'm asking myself at the moment and would appreciate answers from those who now have the benefit of hindsight.

If you had it to do over with a $80K cash budget, and you could only choose one combo or the other, which would you choose and why?

1) New $50K 2020/21 Transit + $30K basic build that meets minimum requirements
2) Used $30K Transit + $50K complete build that meets minimum plus moe creature comforts

Assume a "Use Case" of multi-year, 3-6 month at a time, extended exploration travel across the US for 2 passengers, 2 sleepers.
 

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Welcome to the forum,

I went with option 1. Build will commence (slowly) in a couple of weeks. I certainly don't see $30K as a minimal build (for DIY) but everyone has different definitions of minimal. I had been looking at used Transits and was not able to find any with even a few of my must/would like to have options. When AWD became a factory option for 2020, I stopped looking at used ones. I finally place my order at the end of 2020 run.

It may help to create a list of what you want in the vehicle and the conversion based on your intended use(s) with some costs to help with that decision rather than just the general overlying direction.
 

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2020 T350 HR ext 3.5EB
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I second that. I got the transit new with the options I wanted.
And because I have to seat and sleep 6 I am on my third rebuilding attempt to nail the configuration.
Once the whole family "signs off" on that I'll do a more fixed build.

Aside from that I like the idea to start with affordable and upgrade as I go.
For example I have a
-larger 110V dorm fridge/freezer (did I mention I need to feed 6 on the road)
-AGM batteries
-alternator direct charging via CCP
-no solar
-porta potty instead of the composting toilet
Etc.
All of the above were less then $1k
I plan to upgrade all of the above over the years. But high quality items for just the above would be >$10k
For now my <$1k items work just as well...
 

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30k seems like a huge budget, especially if you plan on doing the work yourself. I started a list of major components I'll need want for my build. Granted this is missing some major things like material for cabinets, grey water tank, plumbing supplies, exterior shower kit, water heater, roof rack etc. but I'm at 13,344.94 before Tax.

Also missing install prices for flares since I want them painted to match. I can't see my entire budget going over 25k with lots of nice features, But I could just be naive.

I also plan to Mod as I got and not jump right into the huge investment. I'm going to start with the flares, windows, swivels and suspension this year. Then the following year get into the bigger interior options. The idea is my small family can still road trip and sleep in it over this summer but won't have a fancy cook space, shower etc.


DescriptionLinkAmount
Window Bug Nethttps://rbcomponents.com/collections/transit-window-nets/products/2014-transit-van-passenger-side-sliding-door-bug-net$599.99
Flare Spacehttps://www.flarespace.com/shop/-by-vehicle/The-Ultimate-Flarespace-Bundle-for-Transit-148-p278242639$6,115.00
Solar Panels 170whttps://thevanmart.com/collections/solar/products/zamp-solar-170w-dual-battery-bank-roof-mount-kit$1,139.99
Window Passengerhttps://www.vanwindowsdirect.com/collections/medium-high-roof/products/passenger-side-sliding-door-half-slider-window-ford-transit-van-2015-2020$619.00
Window Driverhttps://www.vanwindowsdirect.com/collections/medium-high-roof/products/driver-side-forward-half-slider-glass-window-ford-transit-van-2015-2020$619.00
Driver Swivelhttps://agileoffroad.com/product/scopema-swivel-seat-transit/$439.00
Passenger Swivelhttps://agileoffroad.com/product/scopema-swivel-seat-transit/$399.00
2” lift Kithttps://vancompass.com/collections/ford-transit-awd/products/van-compass-ford-transit-topo-2-0-lift-kit-2013-present?variant=34849822474394$855.00
Remote reservoir shockshttps://vancompass.com/collections/ford-transit-awd/products/fox-racing-remote-reservoir-shock-with-compression-adjuster-rear-transit-2013-pair$799.98
Aluminum Skidhttps://vancompass.com/collections/ford-transit-awd/products/van-compass-ford-transit-aluminum-skid-plate?variant=37763005546683$600.00
32 gallon fresh water tankhttps://agileoffroad.com/product/32-gallon-water-tank/$359.00
Fan 1https://agileoffroad.com/product/maxxair-maxxfan-deluxe-roof-fan/$399.99
Fan 2https://agileoffroad.com/product/maxxair-maxxfan-deluxe-roof-fan/$399.99
Total$13,344.94
 

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This is just a thought excercise question because it's one I'm asking myself at the moment and would appreciate answers from those who now have the benefit of hindsight.

If you had it to do over with a $80K cash budget, and you could only choose one combo or the other, which would you choose and why?

1) New $50K 2020/21 Transit + $30K basic build that meets minimum requirements
2) Used $30K Transit + $50K complete build that meets minimum plus moe creature comforts

Assume a "Use Case" of multi-year, 3-6 month at a time, extended exploration travel across the US for 2 passengers, 2 sleepers.
For $80K you can buy a turn-key new rig. I just built a new 2020 T250 Medium Roof for $55K 100% DIY includes 5-star internals like solar, webasto heat, LTE Router & Wifi, Security , 75L dometic refrigerator, drawer slide outs, Aluminess & DIYVan racks, and full custom interior. Minimalist mind you - no shower or head, but everything else is best of the best and I left room for any of those should I want it later. Admittedly, I got one **** of a deal on the vehicle but $80K is a huge budget.


145404
 

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30k is a huge budget for a diy build. Even 20-25k is a very, very nice setup.

Budget build, but still nicely done, is more like $5,000.

Personally, I would rather have the newer van/budget build. You can always upgrade the build later.

Here is a budget turnkey option installed by the manufacture, same day service. Costs about 11k. For someone with zero skills, tools, work area or time, with a lower budget, it is probably pretty attractive. You could most likely do this yourself for $3k, or less, diy. Add in a goal zero, some solar panels, camp stove and you are good to go.

 

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Discussion Starter #9
30k seems like a huge budget, especially if you plan on doing the work yourself. I started a list of major components I'll need want for my build. Granted this is missing some major things like material for cabinets, grey water tank, plumbing supplies, exterior shower kit, water heater, roof rack etc. but I'm at 13,344.94 before Tax.

Also missing install prices for flares since I want them painted to match. I can't see my entire budget going over 25k with lots of nice features, But I could just be naive.

I also plan to Mod as I got and not jump right into the huge investment. I'm going to start with the flares, windows, swivels and suspension this year. Then the following year get into the bigger interior options. The idea is my small family can still road trip and sleep in it over this summer but won't have a fancy cook space, shower etc.


DescriptionLinkAmount
Window Bug Nethttps://rbcomponents.com/collections/transit-window-nets/products/2014-transit-van-passenger-side-sliding-door-bug-net$599.99
Flare Spacehttps://www.flarespace.com/shop/-by-vehicle/The-Ultimate-Flarespace-Bundle-for-Transit-148-p278242639$6,115.00
Solar Panels 170whttps://thevanmart.com/collections/solar/products/zamp-solar-170w-dual-battery-bank-roof-mount-kit$1,139.99
Window Passengerhttps://www.vanwindowsdirect.com/collections/medium-high-roof/products/passenger-side-sliding-door-half-slider-window-ford-transit-van-2015-2020$619.00
Window Driverhttps://www.vanwindowsdirect.com/collections/medium-high-roof/products/driver-side-forward-half-slider-glass-window-ford-transit-van-2015-2020$619.00
Driver Swivelhttps://agileoffroad.com/product/scopema-swivel-seat-transit/$439.00
Passenger Swivelhttps://agileoffroad.com/product/scopema-swivel-seat-transit/$399.00
2” lift Kithttps://vancompass.com/collections/ford-transit-awd/products/van-compass-ford-transit-topo-2-0-lift-kit-2013-present?variant=34849822474394$855.00
Remote reservoir shockshttps://vancompass.com/collections/ford-transit-awd/products/fox-racing-remote-reservoir-shock-with-compression-adjuster-rear-transit-2013-pair$799.98
Aluminum Skidhttps://vancompass.com/collections/ford-transit-awd/products/van-compass-ford-transit-aluminum-skid-plate?variant=37763005546683$600.00
32 gallon fresh water tankhttps://agileoffroad.com/product/32-gallon-water-tank/$359.00
Fan 1https://agileoffroad.com/product/maxxair-maxxfan-deluxe-roof-fan/$399.99
Fan 2https://agileoffroad.com/product/maxxair-maxxfan-deluxe-roof-fan/$399.99
Total$13,344.94
That's a realy nice list El Jefe.

I plan to pay someone to do everything, so, rough-numbering it out, I basically just double the materials cost, then I add 15% on top of the result for Misc, Mistakes and Unknowns. That would put your list, in my budget formula, at $30,693.

On yours I don't see the following that I want:
  • Kitchen galley (fridge, cooking, sink, water pump, grey water tank, cabinet, hardware, countertop, accompanying misc, etc)
  • Stowable pull-out cassette toilet for nights.
  • Dinette table (Lagune?)
  • Complete insulation kit

I love your list though. I need to organize all my bookmarks and notes into a spreadsheet now that I've zeroed in (I think) on the specific vehicle platform.


There are something you have I had not contemplated but will now investigate, and some things I am contemplating that I don't see on yours.

I'll try to re-purpose the existing Dometic CFX3-45 Fridge I use in my Jeep Camper. I'll need onboard heat
 

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$50k is a lot for a new transit. I paid just over $30k for mine. More than covered the upgrade to a trutrac lsd and will also cover a HD aftermarket alternator if i decide i need it. There are a lot of middle ground options here... for me it would depend on what was available on the used market.
 

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$50k is a lot for a new transit. I paid just over $30k for mine. More than covered the upgrade to a trutrac lsd and will also cover a HD aftermarket alternator if i decide i need it. There are a lot of middle ground options here... for me it would depend on what was available on the used market.
For a 130"WB low roof maybe. Most overlanders chose the 148" WB MR , LSD, Dual Alt Dual Batt - not going get that for much under $45K OTD
 

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A lot of people will tell you that things are cheap to do / buy, but they don't necessarily count every detail.

I admit that I am a stickler but it is easy to put $15K into just the electrical system for something that can run the van off grid as well as be a sort of emergency back up for keeping the home refrigerator running in a power outage. (including solar, etc.)

If you are going to be in shirt sleeve weather vs cold / hot areas it makes a big difference on what is needed.

A mobile electrical system designed for 4 season use of extended on the road use is completely different than a weekender / camper build.

As an example, for your application it would take at least 400 - 500 watts of solar - not 170.
 

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As Harryn said, I think your budget is on point. My build out is going to cost $30k and while many things are top quality, I have saved costs in some places, and I do not have any external features (no lift, 4wd, suspension upgrades, bumpers, or roof rack). I have about $4.5k in labor costs in my van including artwork, carpentry, painting, and plumbing. My $30k also includes things people never seem to count like rescue supplies, oil changes, brake job, a wheel bearing that went bad, winter tires on wheels, etc.

I think it depends on your goals, but if you plan to keep this as a camper for a long time, I would spend the money on a new vehicle. You can always build it slower to make cash flow easier during that part.
 

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That's a realy nice list El Jefe.

I plan to pay someone to do everything, so, rough-numbering it out, I basically just double the materials cost, then I add 15% on top of the result for Misc, Mistakes and Unknowns. That would put your list, in my budget formula, at $30,693.

On yours I don't see the following that I want:
  • Kitchen galley (fridge, cooking, sink, water pump, grey water tank, cabinet, hardware, countertop, accompanying misc, etc)
  • Stowable pull-out cassette toilet for nights.
  • Dinette table (Lagune?)
  • Complete insulation kit

I love your list though. I need to organize all my bookmarks and notes into a spreadsheet now that I've zeroed in (I think) on the specific vehicle platform.


There are something you have I had not contemplated but will now investigate, and some things I am contemplating that I don't see on yours.

I'll try to re-purpose the existing Dometic CFX3-45 Fridge I use in my Jeep Camper. I'll need onboard heat
Yes, like I said there are some unknowns and some things not on the list yet (fridge, insulation) I'm going to build my own cabinets. And I need to just do more research on water pumps and grey water tank.

Also major plug for the new Microsoft Edge and its Collections feature, really handy for managing all the various links and parts for your van. I'm actually on the Edge product team ;)
 

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The poll is moot. What every you start with, your going to end up with the same build anyway and unless you have a time machine, it will take a few iterations. From my experience, builds never really end.
 

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30k seems like a huge budget, especially if you plan on doing the work yourself. I started a list of major components I'll need want for my build. Granted this is missing some major things like material for cabinets, grey water tank, plumbing supplies, exterior shower kit, water heater, roof rack etc. but I'm at 13,344.94 before Tax.

Also missing install prices for flares since I want them painted to match. I can't see my entire budget going over 25k with lots of nice features, But I could just be naive.

I also plan to Mod as I got and not jump right into the huge investment. I'm going to start with the flares, windows, swivels and suspension this year. Then the following year get into the bigger interior options. The idea is my small family can still road trip and sleep in it over this summer but won't have a fancy cook space, shower etc.


DescriptionLinkAmount
Window Bug Nethttps://rbcomponents.com/collections/transit-window-nets/products/2014-transit-van-passenger-side-sliding-door-bug-net$599.99
Flare Spacehttps://www.flarespace.com/shop/-by-vehicle/The-Ultimate-Flarespace-Bundle-for-Transit-148-p278242639$6,115.00
Solar Panels 170whttps://thevanmart.com/collections/solar/products/zamp-solar-170w-dual-battery-bank-roof-mount-kit$1,139.99
Window Passengerhttps://www.vanwindowsdirect.com/collections/medium-high-roof/products/passenger-side-sliding-door-half-slider-window-ford-transit-van-2015-2020$619.00
Window Driverhttps://www.vanwindowsdirect.com/collections/medium-high-roof/products/driver-side-forward-half-slider-glass-window-ford-transit-van-2015-2020$619.00
Driver Swivelhttps://agileoffroad.com/product/scopema-swivel-seat-transit/$439.00
Passenger Swivelhttps://agileoffroad.com/product/scopema-swivel-seat-transit/$399.00
2” lift Kithttps://vancompass.com/collections/ford-transit-awd/products/van-compass-ford-transit-topo-2-0-lift-kit-2013-present?variant=34849822474394$855.00
Remote reservoir shockshttps://vancompass.com/collections/ford-transit-awd/products/fox-racing-remote-reservoir-shock-with-compression-adjuster-rear-transit-2013-pair$799.98
Aluminum Skidhttps://vancompass.com/collections/ford-transit-awd/products/van-compass-ford-transit-aluminum-skid-plate?variant=37763005546683$600.00
32 gallon fresh water tankhttps://agileoffroad.com/product/32-gallon-water-tank/$359.00
Fan 1https://agileoffroad.com/product/maxxair-maxxfan-deluxe-roof-fan/$399.99
Fan 2https://agileoffroad.com/product/maxxair-maxxfan-deluxe-roof-fan/$399.99
Total$13,344.94
This is the zamp kit for a long term on road build.

I am not criticizing it in any way, but it is an example of how easy it is to miss the effect of getting tied into a proprietary setup that seems inexpensive when you start but the add on items really add up vs the ability to open source panels, etc.

 

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There are a lot of on target comments on this thread.
AWD or not will have an impact on that 50k as well as fewer deals (more demand)
With what you described, I would go with option 1. Having a clean slate to start from an enjoy without issues and under warranty is worth the premium to me.
I consider the conversion investment to be as portable as possible, When Ford introduces the hybrid with 7.k inverter, like the f150 has for 2021, it is going to change builds forever.
A third option is to get a true camper on the platform (esp if you don't need awd), I know they start much higher than your budget, but are a great experience and then trade in for hybrid and not have to do a conversion twice.

Anyway you go it will be worth it. Best of luck,
g
 

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This is the zamp kit for a long term on road build.

I am not criticizing it in any way, but it is an example of how easy it is to miss the effect of getting tied into a proprietary setup that seems inexpensive when you start but the add on items really add up vs the ability to open source panels, etc.

Thanks Harryn, I will admit I don't know much about the solar kits. This was more of a stand in line item pending more research. Was more pointing out that even with premium parts a 30k build is more than achievable. You seem like you know a ton about solar so would love to pick your brain when the time comes.
 
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