To me, being able to carrying 4x8 sheets is very important. With a pickup, that means an 8' bed (covered if possible). With a 1/2 ton truck, that means no 4 doors. I think maybe Dodge has baby rear doors with 8' but I don't believe Ford or Chevy offer this. Something to think about.
Also, if carrying 4 x 8 sheets, where will you carry your tools? For me, the option was a 3/4+ ton truck so I could get the 8' bed AND crew cab. Now I can carry 20 sheets of drywall in the bed (covered) and fold my rear seats down and stash a crap-load of tools right inside.
If you're not hauling a lot of large materials yourself, a van might be better. Easy access with many doors and tons of storage for tools & fasteners.
I still think vans would be the cheaper option as they don't usually come loaded with leather and nav systems. Pickups are being equipped like frickin luxury cars now!
Even before I started my company, vans were always my choice of vehicle. I'd say 99% of the carpenters I worked with and for drove vans. Perhaps a window/siding guy might have a truck and boxes, or a framer with a truck and boxes.
If you are just starting out, and with your price range, your money would probably go further with a used van. Ability to store all your tools in one place and still haul material - just invest in a decent set of roof racks.
When the jobs got larger and more complex, is when I switched to a truck and trailer. Best of both worlds - tools all in one place, ability to haul material. But there are trade offs - cost, parking inconveniences, etc.
You have to think long and hard what you will exactly be doing, then decide what works best. Do you need ultimate tool storage for a lot of tools and misc. hardware and parts, with the occassional trip to the lumber yard? Or do you need a few specific tools and the ability to always haul material?
I would say look into a van you could probly find a better deal on one.
I do mostly remodeling, I drive a truck with a cap . I would love to have a van but I need 4x4. If they made a van with a good 4x4 system I would have bought it. Or if the conversions were cheaper:laughing:
I used to use nothing but vans in the UK but now I'm in the US i went for the trailer option. Mainly because i can use my truck as a family vehicle and for my hobbies and leave my tools on site. The other advantages are the amount of space i have in my trailer compared to what i had in a van and use it as a site office and be able to work inside the trailer with the heat on in the winter. It's def not the cheapest option but for me it's the best. I'm also 6ft tall and i can walk around in my trailer without ducking all day long and bashing my head.
I have always used vans & still do, though I have had a utility body truck for the last 10 years, I'm actually on my second. The utility body offers excellent storage & you can still haul a good amount of material if needed. The van is great for small jobs & getting in & out of city driving & is a practical combination of tool storage & material hauling. For you budget you could probably get either a van or utility truck used in nice shape, as far as costs & maintenance it's pretty much the same for either vehicle. Maybe look for a single rear wheel utility body & you get the best of both.
If you are just getting into the trade (your occupation says student, maybe i'm wrong) get yourself a small pickup with an extended cab. If you work for someone you won't be doing a lot of hauling so you could get by with a 6' bed. The extra room behind the seats is good for tool storage if you don't have a locking tool box and if you need to transport stuff that can't freeze (adhesives, drywall mud, etc.). You could tow a trailer if need be as well. You can get a decent price on used pickups so take your pick. :thumbup:
If your using it for only work, and need to transport materials, I'd get a van. I think in your price range it would be hard to get a good truck and trailer set up.
With my extended van I have an elevated floor built in and I can load 9.5" of 8' sheet goods without unloading or reloading any tools. It can also fit a ton of 10' stock inside. I can take about 10 pieces of 14' trim before I need to load stuff on the roof rack. It also carries just about every common fastener from hanger nails to spare strike plates.
But like others have said if all you need is to transport your tools to a job then a van may be overkill. If that was all I needed to do I'd look into a truck with a sliding bed and canopy.
im on my sixth full bed pickup in 30 years. Almost bought a well used van 31 years ago to replace my station wagon. My then boss talked me out of it, sayin they were for dope smokin hippies LOL, (hair was kinda long then) I bought his chassis cab instead. Never looked back. Since then about half the tradesmen I know had their vans broken into and emptied. In fact just recently a guy i know with a brand new Freight liner step van had it emptied in a HD parking lot when he went back in to pick up an item he forgot. They seem to be targeted for theft. Its tempting to put all your eggs in one basket and drive around with it. A pickup most of the time you take what you need to the job. Plus a pickup is easier to lay fully assembled sliding glass doors across the bed rails, Guy I know hadda hire me for the day because he couldn't get the door his client ordered to the job in his van. A pickup you could also put large bulky equipment in the bed, like electric cement mixers, brick and tile saws, compactors. wheelbarrows, bulk debris. I will always select pickups over vans.
I would also say van. I got a nice used Ford with a nice set of cabinets when I was starting my company about 3 years ago. Another great thing about vans is they usually don't show their age if you keep the paint in good condition, as they bodystyles don't tend to change as often.
mileage is in the 22-24mpg range and there is a lot of room for storage. The new (long) models can handle full 16' long trim inside the van! add a generator and compressor and you have a mobile trim carpenters dream!
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