i am not against any of your ideas. am not sure which post you are referring to. are you referring to the post with a diagram on it, or the post with a closed loop or both?
In fact I was refering to: "buy the biggest tank that will fit in your stand and then spend the rest on a good skimmer. The fuge can be added into the sump at a later date."
I would necessarily search on ebay for "refugium" packages, just try and find a standard fish tank thats will just fit under your main tank. then you can have a glass store cut the right size of glass/acrylic sheets that you can silicon in and make your own custom sump/fuge. It's WAY cheaper and you'll end up with a better setup. You could find a used and scratched acrylic tank for super cheap.
Don't worry about screwing stuff up. pvc
pipes and plumbing accessories are dirt cheap. 20' of pvc
pipe is probably $4. you can't mess up with any of the fittings I listed unless you glue them prematurely, which is why I recommended dry fitting and testing your system that way before glueing, so the only thing there is to mess up is cutting the pipe. I think you would agree that $4 for 20 feet is cheap and you can afford to make a few miscuts and measurement errors a handful of times and still have pvc
left over at the end.
I'll tell ya something though, once you start doing the stuff yourself, you'll love it. This hobby has more to offer than just fish in a tank. Building your system is a great part of it. I'm sure once you get going, you'll find it is easy and rewarding.
I'm giving you a picture of a really cool sump/skimmer set-up through www.lifereef.com
and a pic of my system when I was dry fitting it in the garage so you can see how its plumbed from the back.