Mostly retired spend all my time working on or thinking about boats and outboard motors :)
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Follow our project from start to finish


Study Plans/Budget

If you can find a designer that has study plans for the project you think you want to build, definitely obtain a set. Glen-L had them for our intended project for about 15 bucks. Well, well worth it on so many levels.

First off, these allow you to make better decisions. Is this the right boat for you? Will it suit your needs or can it be modified? Is it within your ability to build?

Plus it gives you sample blueprints and a somewhat comprehensive bill of materials. These will allow you to do up a rough budget for the project.

Probably the number one reason that boats never get finished once started is because the prospective builder grossly under estimates how much the project will cost. Yes, the lumber may seem somewhat in-expensive, but it's all the hardware, accessories, safety gear, rigging etc that is the real expense in any project larger than a canoe or a rowboat.

This very question is posed in the FAQ section on the Glen-L site. While they wisely do not provide an exact formula or figures, they advise you can estimate to spend approx 50% of what a similar production boat would cost.

That can still leave you with a fairly wide range depending on the size/complexity of the boat you intend to build.

The Cuddy Sport we selected could fall into the commercial class which encompasses Trophy's 23 and 25 foot WA models (65K with stern drive power) up to Grady's and Whalers selling for 100K or more with twin outboards. Again, it all depends on fit, finish and options.

So even a conservative estimate would put the cost of this particular build at somewhere between about 30-50 thousand (dollars that is). This just reinforces the fact that BOAT is really an acronym that stands for Bet On Another Thousand :)

So, how to realistically estimate your costs? Time for more research 

The Designer provided a rough bill of materials for all the "wood" parts and fasteners (screws, nails and bolts) on the boat. So a quick check with a reputable boat lumber retailer will allow you to get some idea of the costs.

I am, like anyone else "cheap" and won't buy from a high priced retailer unless absolutely necessary. But since this is just the budget stage, it's best to over estimate to save stopping your heart at some later stage when you see the price tag.

Even before you have the actual plans, working drawings, fastening schedule etc, you can still put together a very detailed "shopping list".

For our design the cost of lumber, plywood, epoxy, fiberglass cloth, fasteners, paint and varnish came to just shy of 10K.

Builders such as Trophy and Whaler are nice enough to post pdf formatted user manuals on there websites for all of their models. We downloaded one from Trophy. While not super detailed, it did contain diagrams of all the "on-board" systems (electrical, plumbing, etc). From that we made up a very detailed list of the additional items that would be needed on the boat. Everything from the number of thru hull fittings for the bilge pumps to the electrical systems we intended to install.

Again, to set a realistic (high cost) budget, we grabbed the West Marine catalog and priced it all out. The cost for the “required items” plus the accessories we "just had to have" totaled almost another 15K - our build budget was now pegged at 25K leaving the boat without a motor or trailer (since it will be a trailerable model).

A brand new trailer is available from a number of mfg's that will accommodate this particular boat for between 3K (decent) and about 5K (light weight aluminum construction).

Add in a motor at 15K (more on choices later) and we were looking at 45K at the high end. So yes, about half the cost of a comparable boat from one of the major builders - of course, in this case you can not count the value of your time to construct this. Even if you work "cheap", the cost would quickly overtake the cost of buying a "finished" product from any dealer.

You build a boat because you are going to enjoy the journey and in the end you will have something that is not only functional but you can display pride since all the hard work provided you with a custom boat at half the cost of the “competition”.
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