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!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
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 There aren't a lot of individuals doing this work for people like me who just want a van and don't want the outdated full baths and black tanks and five televisions that RV manufacturers still produce.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.