Is it worth it?

Discussion in 'Powerboats' started by K'ledgeBldr, Oct 26, 2007.

  1. K'ledgeBldr
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: atlanta, GA

    K'ledgeBldr Junior Member

    I've been in residential construction for 15+ yrs. Grew up around boats but have never been "involved" with boats. Have good carpentry, design, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, skills. Worked in the automotive industry for a few years (body work/paint).
    The Big Question- Is it profitable to buy a less than pristine cruiser (27-32') and rebuild? Mech, interior, ext., etc.- update it! Give it the WOW! factor.
    And make money?
    I will probably do must of the work myself. And yes, I do know how to use a sewing machine.
    If your other question is why- lost job, company suffering from mortgage fallout. Would also consider employment with company that does this kind of work.
    Any and all help/advise appreciated.
     
  2. sbsboats
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Ontario, Canada

    sbsboats Junior Member

    sometimes you can find a boat for cheap ...fix it up and turn it over for some cash , I have done it ....but that is usually if it just needs elbow grease and the existing equipment is salvageable.
    I have also LOST money buying a boat investing cash in it and not been able to get what I put into it back out again. my advice is ....if the boat has good gear and is incredibly cheap ( and you know how to find a sound boat) you can make some money....but you would be better off leaving this type of project alone unless you know what makes a good boat ...a good boat.
     
  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I'll ditto what SBS has pointed out.

    It takes a fair amount of experience to pick the "right" boat to fix. I've a number of success stories, but also have taken more then my share of baths, learning which projects to tackle.

    The trailer born powerboat, between 16 and 22' is easily the largest market you'll have potential buyers for. This is 90% of the resale business, so take note.

    Folks looking for a used boat, want a deal on a clean, reliable, everything works, not too old boat, which has a commonly recognized brand name. This unfortunately means many of your prospects will be too old, too ugly, have dated styling and are built by manufactures who pump them out quickly with little regard to quality.

    I can't tell you how may 18' bow riders I've hit with a buffer, changed filters, impellers and sold for little effort. In my area there's one in every other backyard, many with disinterested owners, looking for an excuse to sell.

    If you must, stick to late 1980's, with 1990's or newer the better. Check for obvious major concerns like soft soles and mushy transoms. If you can spend a few hours with it and can get it to crank or turn over, then it's likely you can get it running pretty easily.

    Get your feet wet, maybe you'll get lucky on your first few, which will keep your wife from making you peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. Another tip is to get the little woman involved. Success can be directly measured by how much both of you get from the project(s). She'll have ideas about new cushions, let her pick them out of a catalog, (she's likely much better at this sort of thing then you anyway). With her involved, "We did a nice job on that old boat", will be the memories, rather then the fiberglass splinters still floating around the washing machine. Good Luck . . .
     
  4. Landlubber
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Brisbane

    Landlubber Senior Member

    K'ledgeBldr,

    Let me reverse the question. I am a boatbuilder and would like to get into the home market to make some money. Would it be worthwhile buying an old house and doing it up. I am experienced in all forms of construction etc etc.

    I think you would see immediately that we are working in two different fields. You know your market and we know our market. I have never lost on any boat I have bought to restore. I am sure that you would not buy a house that you would loose money on either. I know my game, you know your game, so if you want to make money, stick with what you know best.

    I buy houses with the money I make working on boats, I would respectfully suggest that you buy your boat with the money you make working on houses.
     
  5. K'ledgeBldr
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: atlanta, GA

    K'ledgeBldr Junior Member

    Landlubber, though I respect your "advise" I think you may have missed my point- There is no money in houses right now (can't sell what is built), thats why I proposed the question.
    One other thing that I didn't explain in detail- I'm not thinking of starting a business necessarily, just wanted to know if I did do it (the boat) will it be a losing proposition( is there resale profit?).

    So, on to bigger and better... Obviously the main thing is to survey well and buy low. I have found a couple of survey check lists on the 'net and could use those as a guide line. Is this a step in the right direction? Or is there still an advantage to having a surveyor do a survey on a "less than pristine" cruiser?
     
  6. lazeyjack

    lazeyjack Guest

    dont you think it may be polite to thank Par for his goodly advice?
     
  7. K'ledgeBldr
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: atlanta, GA

    K'ledgeBldr Junior Member

    I thought that it was somewhat implied. Thanks everybody! and please keep bringin' it. I don't care if its good, bad, or indifferent. Thats what makes for good/bad decision making.
    My wife thinks I might have a hole in my head- I keep telling her its the hole in the backyard (swimming pool) that I throw money in- so why not another hole (in the water/ boat) to throw money? And my kids think it grows on trees- God, Don't we all wish!
     
  8. Landlubber
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Brisbane

    Landlubber Senior Member

    You mean money doesn't grow on trees, all that time I go to the back yard to get some for my daughter, now I understand why the neighbours just stare at me.

    OK mate, go get one, and yes PAR has the right ideas if you insist on "playing". All the best, maybe someone here has a project they could pass onto you in your area, we are always being offered jobs that we knock back, so, who of you live in Atlanta that could share a bit with this poor soul that has "The Bug".
     
  9. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    A boat is definately not just a boat as pointed out above. Its hard to make money in boats. Why would any one good at something try to do something else just for what ? the challenge. well ok

    If Houses are'nt selling then do up or build and rent till they do sell. Stick to what you know.
     
  10. K'ledgeBldr
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: atlanta, GA

    K'ledgeBldr Junior Member

    Man, y'all are a tough crowd- guess theres no praise for passion, or was that lost somewhere along the way?
    As wierd as this may sound; in a way I am sticking to what I know- the difference is one sits on concrete, the other on water. Conceivable?
     
  11. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    No --chalk and cheese, I guess your going to have to learn the hard way.

    I wish you luck though.
     
  12. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Surveys are usually my first recommendation. Most of the small boat market doesn't warrant a true survey, though a well skilled engine mechanic in your pocket can be quite helpful. Engines, drives and electronics are the things that will kill you, so one needs to have a reasonable assessment before purchasing a boat.

    This said, many boats available will be little more then neglected and in need of only minor repair, plus a good detailing. The average new 18' family outing for a Saturday afternoon pleasure boat, sees a fair amount of use it's first year in the carport. The following year about half as much, the third and forth, less and less. By the time the 5 year loan is paid off, the boat is only used on the Forth of July and at uncle Rodney's cook out in the local county park each fall. The battery needs to be charged each time, the engine is hard to start, the gel coat is oxidized, cushions showing cracks and wear, dents in the rub rail where he learned how to dock the boat, etc. After this, the boat sits, sometimes for years, until the wife tells him she wants the carport made into a sunroom and the damn boat has to go, because he doesn't use it anymore. He doesn't use it because it doesn't start well, the battery always dead and the fuel delivery is always giving him trouble, plus he's noticed the instrument panel gauges didn't work the last time out.

    These boats are the ones you want. Low hours, reasonably new, just requiring the fuel system be de-varnished, plugs, filters, new battery, impeller and the odd sorted details that can bring a neglected, but low hours boat back to serviceable condision. Some models will be easier to sell then others, some equipment will be more difficult to repair then others, which is where the mechanic in your back pocket comes in handy.

    I still say go for it, get the family involved and have fun. The worst that can happen is you'll have a nice, clean, serviceable boat to blast around your local puddles in. Besides you can't ski of the back of a concrete pad, nor is it as pleasurable a place to get a tan.
     
  13. tuantom
    Joined: Jan 2005
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    tuantom Senior Member

    I can relate a bit to your experience K'. I've also been in residential construction for the last 13 years or so doing a bit of just about every aspect of it on various projects of ours, but mainly both the rough and finish carpentry. I've restored several old bikes in the past have built several engines as well.
    I'm restoring a '67 24' boat right now, and while my background experience adds to moving it along, it's a bit of a different game. Now I'm not doing it for profit - and good thing too because there's a lot to figure out as you go along - and that alone takes a looong time. I, for the most part, rebuilt the entire structure of this boat, which is probably more than you're talking about doing - but it's basically learning a new trade (aside from cutting new plywood for the floor and transom). Just getting familiar with what your options are take a long time - lots of research.
    Everything Par said seems as sound of advise as you're going to hear because you're not really getting into the guts of it all and you're time investment will be at a minimum. If I charged my normal rates for the labor on my boat and no mark-up on material - I'd have to get around $20,000 to break even ( I was given the boat for "free"), and it's not even painted yet. I guess what everyone is saying, and I agree, is that you have to crawl before you can run. I don't think I could have possibly turned a profit on my project - the time efficiency just isn't there.
    One other thing I've noticed - a 24' boat doesn't look very big on the water; but put it in your back yard and it looks huge.
     
  14. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Arlington, WA-USA

    Petros Senior Member

    It is good to pursue your passion. Espcially if you can make an income doing it. However, this is not really a thing to attemp when you are unemployed. You are really talking about a different kind of business in terms how you will make your income, and boat projects can become big money losers in a hurry. Also your up-front investment is really large. I have some experiance with this kind of thing. I have started several business ventures and my cousin has a boat maintance business, and I have bought and sold a few (and built more than a few) small boats (none were money makers in terms of time involved but all were sold for more than I put into them in terms of cost-it paid for my hobby is all). And my current daily business is in the construction trades (as an engineer). Starting a new business can be very stressful and hard on a marriage. If you have other employment and you want to try this as a part time income producer, than give it a try. But only if it will not draw funds away from your income so that it puts you in finacial jepardy.

    For the vast majority of boat buyers these are costly recreational items, if the economy is soft in your area it may take many months to sell even a wow-factor boat. I have seen on craigslist perfectly seaworthy boats of all kinds for free because the owners had to get rid of them in a hurry and get out from under the slip fees and other on-going costs (of couse most of these need a lot maintance, but they were a great deal and perfectly usable).

    I think a better way get started in this is the way my cousin got started. He started back in high school riding his bike down to the Marina with a tool box. He would bum maintance jobs on really big boats (people with lots of money), mostly doing bottom cleaning at first (a low risk but labor intensive maintaince task), and latter moved up to refinishing and other more involved repairs. He built up a large customer base just by word of mouth. Now at 32 he runs his own maintaince facility. He is an expert in nearly all aspects of boat repair and restoration. He built his skills working on other people's boats for which he was paid. This seems like a good way to start by earning money working on other peoples boats. Espcially large wood boats, they always need maintance. You will learn much without the risk of your own investment in both money and time. Your time has value, if you spent two months restoring a small boat you can not sell, you can not buy your time back. You will be further behind finacially and have a boat you can not sell.

    I also met a married couple that made their living restoring and reselling large boats. They would look for large classic live aboard boats in boat yards real cheap, usually abandon projects for which the owners ran out of money or time. they picked them up for the back fees. They moved on-board and restored (or finished the restoration of) the boat, then put in on the market. These would take a while to sell since they were pretty large boats (up to a year), but they would make a lot of money on them. When I met them they were on their third boat in about 5 years, this one was an all wood ketch about 60' long. This worked for them because they had very little overhead during the restoration, and they bought carefully and saved their money and started out with a lot of cash in the bank.

    You also might consider doing handyman work for homeowners in the mean time. I have noticed that when the new home market is soft, the demand for home remodels and repairs usually go up. People still need to live in houses even if they are not buying new ones. Familys have babies, add pets, need repairs, etc. They will need extra room, or the existing rooms rearranged, new appliances installed, etc. which is less expensive than buying another house. If you look for work as a handyman/carpenter, home and appartement owners still need repairs and upgrades done to their units. I presume you own most of the tools you will need, if you go out and look for this kind of work you will find it. In most states, as a handyman it is not usually necessary to have a contractor's licence if you are hired and paid directly by the home owner (it would be the same as hiring someone to mow the lawn, or to move furinture), you would need a business licence however unless you plan to work under-the-table for cash. But between doing handyman work and boat repair/restoration for others, you should have enough income to pay the bills and explor buying a project.

    This way you earn income sticking with what you know, and you can spend part of your time learning about boats and still get paid for it. And have time to explore getting a project as a part time venture that will not break you in the process. If you have a passion for boats, this is the most practial way to get into the boat business without going bust. Trust me on this, one of my busness venture went bad on me many years ago (because of my inexperiance), it was hard on our marriage (fortunately we survived it), but it was a pretty painful experiance that left emotional scars. If you love your wife and kids (if any), go about this in a very careful and finacially conservative way. Your wife will not fight you on it and you will not wipe yourself out if things do not turn out the way you expect (they seldom do anyway).

    Good luck.
     

  15. Landlubber
    Joined: Jun 2007
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    Location: Brisbane

    Landlubber Senior Member

    "A boat is definately not just a boat as pointed out above. Its hard to make money in boats. Why would any one good at something try to do something else just for what ? the challenge. well ok

    If Houses are'nt selling then do up or build and rent till they do sell. Stick to what you know."

    He as not trying to be negative or smart, just letting you know the truth, read over all there responses again and the same theme seeps through.....
     
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