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Renovating an Old Boat

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 4 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Renovating Old Boat Restoring An Old

Most boating enthusiasts will have, no doubt, seen plenty of TV documentaries of old boats which have been more or less consigned to being a wreck and have gone on to be restored to their former glories and, in many cases, they have even been transformed into being even better equipped than they would have been originally.

If you have a passion for boats, there is something quite magical about seeing a boat that has suffered years of neglect taking to the water again and people can get quite emotionally attached to a boat restoration project, especially those who view the project as a personal hobby in addition to it being a practical solution when it comes to the cost of owning a boat to live on.

And, indeed, with the difference in price between buying a brand new boat and the cost of buying one that is currently non-seaworthy and restoring it is something that shouldn’t be dismissed lightly as it is possible to save a considerable sum of money by taking the renovation route, although there can be many pitfalls too so unless you’re extremely knowledgeable about boats, you’d need to seek sound advice first.

Get a Boat Survey Done First

Your first priority if you’re thinking of restoring an old boat yourself or having a boatyard restore it for you is to get a reputable marine surveyor to undertake a boat survey first. They will not only be able to give you a detailed report of what needs doing but will also be able to indicate the most important priorities if you were to go ahead with the boat purchase and renovation.

By doing this, should you decide to go ahead with the project, the surveyor’s findings will also help in terms of shaping your plan for the restoration in terms of drawing up a strategy for what needs doing first and what jobs can be put off until later. It will also help you determine whether the price that the seller is asking for is reasonable, given that the surveyor’s report will give you a good idea of how much the restoration is going to cost.

Therefore, it may be a good bargaining tool in terms of asking the seller if they’d be prepared to reduce the cost of the boat. However, it’s important to remember to factor in additional costs in terms of labour, especially if you intend to have a boatyard restore the boat for you as that could also add up to a considerable sum so you’d need to get a few estimates first if you are not restoring it yourself.

On the other hand, if you’ve got the necessary skills and, perhaps as importantly - the time to devote to the project and are able to view it as much as a hobby or ‘labour of love’, then depending upon the condition of the boat and what you can do yourself and areas which still may require boatyard expertise, you may be able to make some savings that way.

Size Considerations

With a boat renovation project, depending upon what needs doing, it’s usually better to choose a boat that’s the smallest possible that will still fulfil your needs and living expectations as the bigger the boat, the bigger the restoration bill at the end. Furthermore, you’ll ultimately want to get it back into the water as quickly as possible and you’ve got more chance of achieving that aim with a smaller boat than with a larger one.

Resale Considerations

Even with a project that you’re particularly keen to embark upon and the effort, love and care that you plan to put into the restoration, it’s likely that you’ll still want to sell the boat on at some point in the future so it’s important that you keep sentimentality at bay and think of the financial implications not just now but in the future when it comes to the boat’s resale value as you’ll want to avoid a scenario whereby all the money and effort that comes with a boat renovation might seem meaningless in future years if you end up with a huge financial loss if you decide to sell.

Boat renovations both in terms of cost and the time they will take to complete will obviously vary tremendously according to the size and the type of boat and its current condition alongside your own preferences in terms of what you want to achieve in the final outcome. The key thing to always bear in mind is not to let sentimentality get in the way of the financial implications and to ensure that all aspects of the restoration are aimed at maximising the boat’s value when the renovation work has been completed.

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