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Discussion Starter #101
Yes I believe they saw Judy as an easy mark, unfortunately. This, unfortunately, is what can easily happen when people take on projects they have no real familiarity with and simply equate price with quality rather than investigate what and why they really need.
...a sophisticated consumer would understand that it’s all about the profit, not the product, and act accordingly. Never ever blindly accept a so called experts suggestion without exploring all your options and needs
I'll never be as knowledgeable about all-things-van as people on this forum but, spoiler alert, I did actually research and shop around!

Brace yourselves: Another well-known custom upfitter near Portland that I hesitate to name would have charged over $18k for the same solar and $180k-200k for a similarly equipped all-solar 144wb (!) Sprinter van, except they use veneers vs hardwood cabinets like mine.

I looked at a lot of class B vehicles in that price range (for ideas, not because it was my budget), and I do feel I got a better end product.

However, I totally agree with all of your comments about the solar and I won't do it that way next time. Ditto the radiant heat.

Part of the reason they get away with these prices is demand, not people's ignorance about quality. Vanlife is the new black. There are about 20 upfitters in the Portland area alone and a lot of them have at least a 1 yr waiting list or are juggling 5 at a time and may take the van but keep it for 10 months.

I just wanted a van!
In this lifetime.
And, yeah, I like the "mint on the pillow" kind of van.

You folks could make a killing if you were so inclined. You could start a van building cartel. There aren't a lot of individuals doing this work for people like me who just want a van and don't want the outdated full baths and black tanks and five televisions that RV manufacturers still produce. I don't even own one tv.

The one guy I'll use again is Marc Vroman, who inherited my choices for solar and radiant heat and did the beautiful interior build. I love that window trim and so many other details. He itemized metulously and charged $65/hr for his time, which to me was beyond fair. I asked for so many one-offs like the 12v AC and he didn't feel like he could charge for all his research and head-scratching time, and even getting it into the van was a bear.

I guess I should be fair and add that the van actually cost $116k but I've since added a bunch of technology, bringing the total up.

Anyway, this has been a fun way to recover from the flu this week. I had no idea I'd cause such a ruckus. I didn't even know this forum was infested with DIYers (just kidding). I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your candor.

Totally off topic, another reason this forum is great! I've already learned that the bizarre random downshift-thing the van does when you're sailing down an empty desert highway at 75 mph, singing along with the Monkees, is "normal." It scared the bejeezus out of me.
 

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Discussion Starter #102
I feel bad forhijacking Judy's thread (are we in Judy's thread?)
[/QUOTE]

Lol, I'm not sure what thread you're in either, but I vote for the LifeP04 batteries. The rest of your discussion makes my head hurt.
 

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Discussion Starter #103
Wow. In one sentence you manage to insult Judy and the builder.
ThomD, thank you dear one, but oh, heck no! I may live in sensitive, kumbaya-singing, vegan Portlandia, but I grew up in New Jersey. I'm not losing any sleep over this.
 

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Discussion Starter #105
Thanks ThomD
You wrote exactly what I was thinking "Seems to be Victron to me also" & I totally agree with your statement "expensive is not the same as over priced".



Thanks MsNomer
I agree Judy's build is better than factory and has cost less in my opinion of what I understand typical new factory would be with similar features. And the window trim is artwork

I respectfully disagree with you on the "materials plus labour"cost comment. It should cost; materials, labour, tools & special equipment, corporate overhead costs (including warranty and insurance and commissioning and office /shop and blaa blaa blaa), and a profit. A business that does not make money will not exist to perform services for customers.


Thanks KOV
Have you ever noticed there are people on this forum who openly complain about "self claiming experts" and then self proclaim to be an expert?

Actually I don't have a mirror yet installed in my van & was wondering if you had a good recommendation for me? ?

But seriously; Without having an identified equipments list and design we are just assuming vast amounts of information and any chatter about the costs charged is just prejudice (pre-judging).

I hear the passion in your words and can appreciate you were most likely "one of the good guys", and cared about your home owner clients per your report. That is admirable & I can understand you being a watchdog on here with regards to reasonable costs for a reasonable job (sounds like that was your passion in your career also).


Hi JudyPDX
In the short time you have been on this forum, you have impressed me. "Caveat Emptor", in my opinion you exercised this to the best of your ability given your parameters and experience and dove right and accomplished what seems to me as just an excellent build. Nor do I think you overpaid.

Again I do not think this can fairly be compared against DIY conversions

and I applaud you - Job Well Done !!
RV8R, what a gracious, perfect post with which to end my long day. Thank you. ?
 

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Amen. And we really hope you stick around.

Your description of Portland puts everything into better perspective. $65 sounds like a reasonable rate. Maybe the market will have eased off by the time you do your next one—or maybe Mark will be booked out a year because of his new-found fame.
 

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Judy,

There are many rays to the one Sun. Or paths up the mountain. Depending on which side of the mountain you started from it's the View at the Top that's most important and the same SUN shines on all of us. Congrats on following your heart. Mine for now is a simple metal tent in a 118" shorty. Both designs get us out into nature.
Enjoy yourself whatever you do.
Thanks for sharing a great build.
Mark
IMG_5791~PHOTO.jpeg
 

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Thanks for sharing. Your project sounds like most of ours. We, like Nomadik Customs are a fully custom builder. We build whatever the client wants. All of this requires an enormous amount of time outside of actually building the van. It sounds like you got exactly what you wanted so I would call that a win. The price you paid is a great deal for fully custom. Enjoy it!
 

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mdmh2o, it never ceases to amaze me how many ways there are to skin this cat. I’ve never seen anything like your wall panels. Neat.
Thanks MsNomer, I just posted a few pics of my build today. Panels are 1/8" Okume Ply (Marine Mahogany Ply) which was a gift from a friend. Border is Cedar T&G painted. Very basic and simple.
mdmh2o
 

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No, not all all. It’s just pretty obvious what happened here and why. It happens every day in commerce and it’s certainly not illegal it’s called Capitalism. Judy understands this and she is still happy and got what she wanted, both she and the builders are happy and smiling and they have reason to. Her next build if there is one will be substantially different and less expensive I’ll wager because she will have become a sophisticated buyer.

The point here is do your homework and then do it over again. Hopefully newbies hoping to do something similar will read this thread and understand some of the pitfalls, understand what they actually need, why they need it and what they don’t need and then act accordingly.
I understand more than many here that there is a fine line between helping yourself and helping your customer. In my business career I always had happy customers long after the job was finished because I tried to fill both their needs and mine.
Thank you "Keeponvaning". I literally have learned the very hard lesson example you provided. You are "spot on." Indeed, I am so thankful we have people with your wisdom and honesty "watching our backs." If only I could inject this type of common sense into my progeny. Appreciatively, a thankful forum member ?
 

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It is hard to inject reason to a project someone is enthused about and is actively involved in. Some guidelines for purchased conversions, DIY conversions, and Class B motorhomes would help. I had some folks with a Transit stop by this week and we cross viewed vans. I confined my comments to what I did but slipped and commented on a “feature” they had gone overboard on and I got pushback and it soured the exchange a bit. I was sorry If I offended them, I had no intention. They did however discuss three mistakes they had made in design that I was aware of but did not mention. They were on their FIRST trip and have resolved to sell the van (they will loose $15,000 I am sure) and months of their time and redo it inside a new van. A feature they will get next time is a 4WD of some sort so that will make them feel it was reasoned.
 

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It is hard to inject reason to a project someone is enthused about and is actively involved in. Some guidelines for purchased conversions, DIY conversions, and Class B motorhomes would help. I had some folks with a Transit stop by this week and we cross viewed vans. I confined my comments to what I did but slipped and commented on a “feature” they had gone overboard on and I got pushback and it soured the exchange a bit. I was sorry If I offended them, I had no intention. They did however discuss three mistakes they had made in design that I was aware of but did not mention. They were on their FIRST trip and have resolved to sell the van (they will loose $15,000 I am sure) and months of their time and redo it inside a new van. A feature they will get next time is a 4WD of some sort so that will make them feel it was reasoned.
Honesty & Tact ... a difficult couple of things to juggle. I think the majority of people defend what they have done. This seems to be human nature.

I have a close Buddy that purchased a new 2016 motorhome in 2018. Apperantly got a good deal on it. Paid $136k had it less than a year sold it for $85k - $50k (loss or depreciation- however you look at it).

Many different strokes for different folks out there.

Honesty & Tact ... a couple of difficult things for ME to juggle anyway
 

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Really nice build Judy. Looks like you managed to thread the needle given your circumstances of ability, desire and finance. I think that's what makes this forum so interesting and informative. We all have individual needs, wants and abilities and that is what makes each build (DIY or up fitter) unique. I have learned so much from all the comments here. The item that struck me the most was the window trim that others have mentioned. I struggled somewhat with my build on how to trim out the windows and came up with something similar except I didn't use curly maple. Some scraps from my wood stack and my trusty bandsaw. Your windows look like the Motion windows I had installed.
Enjoy your build and have fun with it. DSCN1450.jpg
 

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I'm new to the forum and hope I'm posting this in the correct place. My van builder showed my newly-finished van at Tinyfest in Salem OR in August and Jarrod Tocci asked to film this video tour for his YouTube channel. I'm in the video, but haven't yet watched it!

Disclaimer: I can already see, this forum is heavily populated by DIYers, for whom I have enormous respect. I know myself, and building a van isn't something I felt willing or able to tackle. This was a fully custom build. I'm not wealthy, but yes, it was an expensive way to go, about $120k, including the van.

The builder kept calling it a unicorn due to several unusual features, and the name stuck.

found you and your van after seeing the video. Hats off to you for finding a great builder and building your dream. Of all the amazing things we saw in your vid, the comment about you and your builder going back and forth for four months was the smartestof all.

we are coming from a 40ft fifth wheel (and four sons and two dogs) to just me, my wife and one toy sized dog.

yours is closest to our ideal so far, so I am going back to my plans right now. Thanks for sharing your home with us Judy.
 

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Discussion Starter #118
we are coming from a 40ft fifth wheel (and four sons and two dogs) to just me, my wife and one toy sized dog.

yours is closest to our ideal so far, so I am going back to my plans right now. Thanks for sharing your home with us Judy.
Thank you Shane225, Wow that's a big change! You'll easily fit in a van and I hope you love it. I sometimes manage to fit myself, my 2 big dogs, my boyfriend and his daughter.

I never did watch the video of my van tour. Hopefully they mentioned the hidden composting toilet and shower. Are you doing the build yourselves?
 
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