New Here & Just Bought a Ford Transit!

Hey Everyone! I am new to the group and am so excited to share that I just got my hands on a 2021 Ford Transit 350 Highroof EXT AWD! It’s a big purchase and a big leap of faith as I plan to build it out myself as much as possible! Would love to hear any tips or tricks for first steps. I pick it up mid May but I am already considering ordering insulation, sound deadening mats, and so forth. Is that a good idea to get on hand before or wait til its in my driveway?

Looking forward to learning and sharing with you all!


Welcome to the forum. We’re looking forward to seeing how you do your build. If I were buying new right now, I’d probably also go with a Transit.

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I would get ahead on things for sure. A lot of things are on backorder or impossible to get at this point. You might want to think ahead on a few of the purchases that might not be available when you are ready to install them. Nothing like being ready to go only to have to wait 8 weeks for a toilet or not being able to install solar because they or your roof rack are on backorder.

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OOof, that’s my biggest fear. Okay! Thanks for the tips! Anything you recommend getting ahead of now? I was thinking MaxAir system, Nature’s Head, my fridge, and then designing my electrical plan to choose inverters, solar, batteries, etc.

Welcome! We self-built our 20213 Sprinter and it turned out great but we should have spent more time planning, measuring and designing as we ended up redoing a few things to make our space work better. Our setup: Nature’s Head (The bomb!), Isotherm 130 fridge that makes ice!, Renogy 400W solar package with 2000W inverter. 400Ah of AGM batteries - go with Lithium if you can afford it. Propex undermount heater - works at any altitude and needs no cleaning, Camp Chef propane oven/stove combo, Takagi propane hot water heater. Definitely would order the basics such as noico sound deadening, insulation (many choices), windows, wiring, window covers so you can manage temp while you build - no sense in waiting to enjoy! Good luck and keep us posted.


Ford Transit 350 Highroof EXT AWD is my dream van… so excited for you.
I’m a newbie as well and in the process of designing my build. I totally agree with Trevor. Planning is paramount. so I believe having a blueprint of my build is the first step. I mean drafting all the details and size, not just a fancy 3D modeling. It’s cheaper and easier to make change on the screen than in real life.
Would love to share with you since we seems are in similar stage of the process. Good Luck !

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Hey new van Homie! Congratulations on the epic purchase. That’s a nice new sweet ride. Those ideas are good so far. I’ve built mine out so I have a good eye of experience knowing what should come first, and where to know it is. And that’s the wiring. Are you planning on solar? Running water in the sink? Inverters, batteries, light switches, all that. Put your wiring in at the same time as the insulation. I would try to route all of your wires in one bundle in one of the corners of the van and leave it accessible in case something goes out in the future.
Flooring before the walls, especially if you are screwing in wood walls. I put a subfloor under my hardwood looking laminate. That made it level.
Any cabinetry, shelves, plumbing after that.
Those are pretty much all the basics. Just think your order through in case you need to access something.


Greetings & Welcome!

The problem with on the computer vs. real life is that they don’t always translate well. What looks & sounds good on paper or the computer, doesn’t always work as expected in reality.

Many people are also on their 2nd, 3rd, or more builds. With experience, our needs, wants, & desires change. For this reason, I always suggest cheap, portable, modular, re-arrangeable builds for beginners. It can save you a lot of money & frustration in the long run.


"Beat Murphy's Law with a KISS! (Keep It Stupidly Simple)" ~ Van_Dweller

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Great!!! Lumber prices has increased so do some shopping around. I agree with those saying order what u need now.

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Lumber prices may go down in the near future.The pandemic is coming to an end, which means that there will be less demand from DIY’rs and the border between Canada and the US should re-open, leading to more wood products available.

They’re also predicting that interest rates may increase in the future, which may eventually translate to less demand for new homes (less demand for lumber), but there may be more demand in the short term as people try to lock in their mortgage rates.

Thank you so much Trevor for all the info and your list of goodies! So so helpful! How did you tackle your design? Did you use a computer program or work with good ole pencil and paper? I am not a builder or designer, but I do have a knack for space. I just want to make sure I approach this the right way. I pick up my van in 1 week!!!

Thanks so much! How did you do a blueprint or model for your van? I am picking my van up in 1 week and ready to get started! Would definitely love to share the process with you as I go. Fair warning - I am not a builder or super handy but I feel like I have the right project to throw myself into and hope I can really show up and learn some great things in this process.

Awesome tip - thank you so much. I want to install windows for sure, and will definitely be installing solar. Do you have any tips on where to look for wiring guides? I am working out my energy needs now.

I do want running water but am trying to decide between a large tank for the shower/sink or have a fresh water/grey water tank under the sink, and a separate tank for the shower. Any thoughts on that?

Wiring guides. No, because I’ve never had to look for them myself. I didn’t mention before, when I bought my van solar was already hooked up. Other wiring I had done by an electrician. That’s the one part of this I’m not too good at.

As far as the water. Perhaps it comes down to what you want? You easily have enough space so you can do both. Figuring out a way to pull all the freshwater together in one tank could save some space. You could have a small gray water container under your sink. Wherever the shower drains, that could join that same gray water. This may just come together as you go along. It’s a rabbit hole of options.

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I use AutoCAD to draft the print. I have drafting background in architecture so it is not too hard for me but it is time consuming. But I believe it’s cheaper and faster to make change in CAD than in real life. I maybe able to help if you need anything.

I’ve been chatting with a builder who said that the water from the shower could flow straight out of the van if we were on public lands? Is that correct? It may be nice to only have the grey water under the sink.

Also, what is your take on whether or not to install a roof rack first and then solar, or just installing solar and decking to the roof?


In most places it is not okay to dump shower water or gray water on the ground.

Several inches of clearance under the solar panels is a wise idea.


"Be a credit to the human race, and make the world a better place." ~ Off Grid

Personally I don’t see the difference between a drain to the ground and a shower bag. Use the correct soap and I think you’ll be ok. This was always our initial plan, but we still haven’t installed a shower. Obviously be cognizant of where you’re doing it at. Some places are more fragile than others and it might not be allowed everywhere.

Roof rack before solar for sure.