Log in
Article search:

Q & A

New Build Boat

We wish to order a new built Wide beam, however are not happy to make stage payments. We are very happy to pay the full price in advance into escrow pending final delivery. The Boats seem to be built abroad, but what use to us is a part finished boat in Poland if the company goes bust. How can we secure our hard earnt cash ?

Asked by: Mark Meopham  | 10.19am, Saturday 28 January

WW says:

Have a look at the Canal Boatbuilders association website; www.c-b-a.co.uk. They have a sample legal agreement to be signed by the boat builder and the customer which lays out how ownership of the boat is transferred to the customer when stage payments are made.
It is important to be able to check on the progress of your boat through the build process, in this way you can be sure that things are happening and that it is to your specification. Merely looking at pictures could be misleading, nothing beats seeing a build progressing in the flesh. It would be best to therefore have the boat built within easy reach.
If you are having the boat built in another country be sure of the legal situation and get the appropriate agreement drawn up, especially as to who will pay for the part completed boat to be transported to the UK in the event of company failure.

Rupert Smedley  | 12.19PM, Saturday 28 January

Another point:
Although your new boat will have paperwork stating that it conforms to the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD), it is worth having a second opinion. Getting a surveyor or Boat Safety Examiner to check the boat to BSS requirements will throw up any shortfalls in the manufacture of the boat, be they deliberate or accidental. Waiting 4 years until the first BSS exam is due, means that you then have no redress against the builder if remedial work is required.
Hope this helps.
Rupert Smedley

Rupert Smedley  | 12.27PM, Saturday 28 January

Most builders want stage payments because they have to buy all the materials and appliances, pay their staff and rent, during the building of the boat. This may take as much as 6 months and represents a large slice of cash. Most builders ( boat or house ) are unwilling or unable to fund these costs. If you do find one that is willing to fund the building costs, they will probably charge a large premium.
If you are so worried about the pitfalls of buying a new boat, why not consider a second hand one. At least then you can be see exactly what you are getting, and buy it outright.

Rupert Smedley  | 10.42AM, Sunday 29 January

I agree with Rupert entirely- and his point about stage payments covering material costs are quite understandable. A house builder might be able to negoiate materials on credit, etc- and buliding a house is usually less time consuming than a boat! Also, larger housing companies can afford to build on-spec; most boat builders cannot.
I agree that having a boat built within easy reach is a good idea so you can personally keep an eye on the build- otherwise if you have an independant representative in the country of build (possibly an overseas surveyor- in the case of Poland, the Polish Registry of Shipping).
In the end, if you cannot work through the fairly standard stage payments- which applies throughout the industry- not just inland boats, then the builder may refuse to build for you.
It is only for generally for smaller craft that a deposit, then final payment is the normal method. Otherwise, the boatbuilder would be taking a risk that the customer might turn around and not actually want the boat in the end (which has certainly happened to some builders in the past, leaving them in financial difficulties). Boatbuilders have been often affected by customers lack of payments, although this doesn't make the headlines as much as boatbuilders going bust. The industry is quite small, and so stage payments ensure that there is responsibilty on both sides- so much that is it the norm within the British Marine Federation.

Mark Langley  | 12.19PM, Sunday 29 January

Readers say:

Thank you for the answer, but surley there has to be quality Boat Builder, that has enough confidence to build me a Boat, knowing he is guaranteed payment via an escrow Account when he produces a finished Boat. I fail to understand why I should have to take any risks with my hard earned cash.

Mark Meopham  | 12.38PM, Saturday 28 January

The difference with a having a House built, is that you own the land already, and if the builder goes bust, the house will not be in a different country. I feel that if the Boat builder can see funds in an escrow Account he knows he is guaranteed payment and therefore if his Bank has any faith in him then he should be able to borrow whatever he needs to construct the Boat,one should not forget that the Builder will not have to borrow all the funds upfront as he could just draw down what he needs as and when,plus 20/30% would be his profit and would not need to be borrowed. I feel that there must be a builder out there, who has a Bank Manager that believes in them, and if not then to be honest why should I ?

Mark Meopham  | 11.35AM, Sunday 29 January

We have had two narrowboats built and done by stage payments this as said above is the norm and we brought British also as to enable us to visit the boat builder an keep up with the build and to add any extras as it went on.There is one other thing you might be interested in , that the boating world that we have is very much a trusting organisation so if you are'nt ready to trust a boat builder then maybe you better stay on a housing estate

mick turner  | 6.02PM, Sunday 29 January

We already live aboard a narrowboat, not on a housing estate and trust is a strange thing, normally has to be a two way thing doesn't it?
We have seen several wide beams built as spec boats for boat shows such as crick, the builders find the money to build those!

Mark Meopham  | 6.08PM, Sunday 29 January

You must log in to post an answer.