Pricing Custom Catamaran Builds - the impossible task?

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by talus, Sep 13, 2008.

  1. talus
    Joined: Sep 2008
    Posts: 5
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Vancouver

    talus Junior Member

    Hi everyone, I have been surfing around here for some time now and educating myself. Great stuff!

    I am trying to get an idea of what a custom built (or kit build) Catamaran might cost.

    While you can find the price of almost anything on the web it seems that the price of a custom (or new) vessel is a trade secret. I have seen posts where the purchaser was offered a "free" flight to the South Africa factory to inspect the operation - the purchaser felt this tipped the scales in this particular manufacturers favor - and didn't question for a moment where the company would recover the cost of the flight (I'm sure the cost was built into his eventual purchase).

    I am doing this because I am generally dissatisfied with the capabilities of most production power cats. My view is that they tend to focus on either: charter markets, speed, or luxury. Often they do this at the detriment to what I feel are the best qualities of a catamaran - stability, efficiency and light weight.

    However, I am not independently wealthy. I do not have an unlimited budget or the ability of write off a large vessel as a company expense. And I am not interested in a luxury vessel - not that I could afford one anyway.

    I just need to get a good idea what a custom build would cost. Obviously, labor rates vary by location throughout the world and any quotes would have the caveat of location.

    The thread on "Low price Catamarans" has a post by Kenneth Grome that quotes and Asian build...

    "The last time I gave a potential customer a ballpark figure for a strip planked bottom and plywood / epoxy / fiberglass composite sandwich catamaran hull in the 30-40 foot size range I think I told him $7.00 per pound for a hull / deck / cabin finished on the outside but unfinished on the inside, or $12.00 per pound for a hull that's completely finished inside and out. ...... The truth is, I much prefer to build for $9 per hour plus materials rather than working under the cloud of a fixed contract price. It's more fun to build a boat when I can focus on quality construction and not worry about my bottom line, and my bottom line is simply not an issue when my profit is built into the hourly labor rate."

    Has anyone done any research on this???

    My questions are:

    • What is the cost "per-pound" or kilogram in other parts of the world ie. Australia, New Zealand, USA, South America etc?
    • Is this measure (cost per pound) an accurate method of pricing?
    • Is there a cost "per-foot" or meter that is generally accepted?
    • I assume (from this forum) that Sail Cat cost are comparable to Power at costs over the long run. Is this a safe assumption?
    • What about build quality - does it vary so vastly throughout the world?
    • While a given hull has a cost - what percentage can be saved by fitting out in "economy" vs "luxury"?

    To put this in perspective my ideal vessel would be:

    Type: Power or Motorsail Displacement Catamaran
    Use: Liveaboard Family
    Type of Cruising: West Coast North America (Juneau to Panama) + Caribbean and eventually Mediterranean (Circumnavigation?)
    Accommodation: 2 Adults + 2 children (one boy, one girl so ideally 3 cabins or 2 cabins with a divider down center of children's cabin)
    Range: 2500 NM @ 6-8 kts
    Speed: up to 15 kts (not a hard requirement)
    Quality: functional, basic, operational, owner maintainable - NOT luxury or lavish
    Length: 44' to 56'
    Note: Limit engine HP only to what is required - maximize fuel efficiency

    You could place me firmly in the Robert Beebe - Malcolm Tennant camp.

    Priorities:
    1. Seaworthiness
    2. Affordability
    3. Fuel Economy
    4. Range
    5. Stability (a given with a catamaran)
    6. Ease of Maintenance / Simplicity of Systems

    Appealing designs and designers:

    Malcolm Tennant St John 44' http://www.tennantdesign.co.nz/index.php?page=st-john---44
    Malcolm Tennant Sounder http://www.tennantdesign.co.nz/index.php?page=sounder---46mshttp://www.tennantdesign.co.nz/index.php?page=sounder---46ms
    Manta Catamarans Power 44' (does not have the range) http://www.mantacatamarans.com/powercat.cfm
    Schionning Alaskan 51' (might not have the range) http://www.schionningdesigns.com.au/www/welcome.cfm

    Currently operating designs / inspiration:

    "Crysalis" 65' Malcolm Tennant Design http://chrysalisvoyage.com/
    "Domino" 65' Malcolm Tennant Design http://dominocatamaran.blogspot.com/


    Here is a old advertisement for a Malcolm Tennant St John 44'. You can see that the price had dropped from $549,000 to $398,000 on this American Built catamaran. I would consider $398K a very good price for a custom catamaran but am I mislead?
     
  2. Alik
    Joined: Jul 2003
    Posts: 3,007
    Likes: 300, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 1306
    Location: Thailand

    Alik Senior Member

    Please note that only cost of structure can be quoted per unit of weight. Say, in S.E.Asia for basic FRP in existing mold cost will be about 10 Euro/kg for polyester/CSM laminate. Use of sandwiches, multiaxial fabrics, etc. would increase cost to 20+ Euro/kg. For aluminum the cost is 14-17 Euro/kg. This cost includes raw material, labor and builder's overhead.

    All equipment should be quoted on item-by-item basis. There is no other way to get accurate number.

    For cats designs, please see this:
    http://www.amdesign.co.th/design_dn44.htm
    Now in construction in US.
     
  3. waikikin
    Joined: Jan 2006
    Posts: 2,383
    Likes: 151, Points: 73, Legacy Rep: 871
    Location: Australia

    waikikin Senior Member

    Talus, the points Alik has made are very valid esp' in regards to price per pound relating to the structure only, as he's mentioned esp for molded poly/csm laminates, a square meter price is also very valid especially as more lightweight/ one off methods are pursued & surface finishes become more labour intensive on a "faired" surface with 2 pak paint compared to a contact molded surface with gelcoat finish. As theres a lot of square meters in a cats structure- hulls, decks, underwing, bulkheads etc theres a trade between weight & cost. The size vessels you indicate inspiration from are gunna be pretty hungry in dollars. All the best with it from Jeff:)
     
  4. masalai
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 6,823
    Likes: 121, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 1882
    Location: cruising, Australia

    masalai masalai

  5. talus
    Joined: Sep 2008
    Posts: 5
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Vancouver

    talus Junior Member

    A little more searching on costing and I stumbled onto this...

    http://www.f-boat.com/pages/costsandtimes.html


    ...estimated total finished costs including labor should a custom/professional builder be employed are as follows:

    23 - 26' (7 - 8m) - US$60,000 to $85,000

    26 - 29' (8 - 9m) - US$68,000 to $110,000

    29 - 33' (9 - 10m) - US$130,000 to $215,000

    36 - 39 (11 - 12m) - US$275,000 to $400,000

    39 - 42' (12 - 13m) - US$290,000 to $500,000

    The above are realistic figures, and using average to good quality materials. A custom (professionally) built boat will usually cost more than a production version, but it can also be a considerably superior boat. Larger models (such as F-41) are usually more cost effective, and price can be competitive or even better than a production boat. Significant savings are only possible with smaller models by building yourself, or if located in a lower cost country where production prices have been inflated by currency exchange rates, or import duty factors.

    A multihull will also usually cost from 15 to 25% more to build than a similar size monohull, but the resale value will be considerably more, even as much as double, due to the saturated market in used monohull sailboats, all very alike.

    Note that the above costings were correct in 2008, and will require correcting for inflation, or for the area where the boat is to be built. In this regard, the best or only way for an accurate costing is to cost all items in the materials list (available in Study Site) in your area. Alternatively, as a rough guide, material cost will be about 40% of the retail cost for an equivalent production boat, plus or minus 10%, depending on builders bargaining ability.


    They also have some basic charts giving material cost vs size and time to build vs size.

    Overall it appears to be a very helpful analysis.:)
     
  6. masalai
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 6,823
    Likes: 121, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 1882
    Location: cruising, Australia

    masalai masalai

    Some designers/builders such as Schionnings, and the "Fusion 40" from around Airlie beach Central Queensland in supplying kits can give fairly accurate costing and build time figures.

    Here is a link for a Bob Oram project... http://www.thecoastalpassage.com/build_cat.html and is in build now so get the good oil as it happens....
     
  7. FAST FRED
    Joined: Oct 2002
    Posts: 4,519
    Likes: 110, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1009
    Location: Conn in summers , Ortona FL in winter , with big d

    FAST FRED Senior Member

    Seaworthiness

    is first concern , and you select a boat that is as stable inverted as upright?

    Sounds like room is your first concern.

    FF
     
  8. RHough
    Joined: Nov 2005
    Posts: 1,792
    Likes: 61, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 793
    Location: BC Summers / Nayarit Winters

    RHough Retro Dude

    I bet you walk everywhere don't you? Inverted stability is a measure of crash recovery. Seaworthiness is a measure of how likely the crash is.
     
  9. masalai
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 6,823
    Likes: 121, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 1882
    Location: cruising, Australia

    masalai masalai

    Retro, I tried to praise you but the mechanism will not allow me to give you more till I spread myself around????? My sense of humour appreciated your words, but then Fast Fred also has a valid point, but as has been declared on post #1, the Priorities:
    1. Seaworthiness
    2. Affordability
    3. Fuel Economy
    4. Range
    5. Stability (a given with a catamaran)
    6. Ease of Maintenance / Simplicity of Systems
    demonstrating due care and some considerable research has been done... Just point talus in various directions so the various options can be considered.

    I hope we are doing that and I feel talus will eventually make a wise and reasoned decision...
     
  10. RHough
    Joined: Nov 2005
    Posts: 1,792
    Likes: 61, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 793
    Location: BC Summers / Nayarit Winters

    RHough Retro Dude

    :D thanks.

    I think we have all agreed that the human factor plays a large role in the relative seaworthiness of small boats (anything under about 70 feet). After the keel falls off I've sees an alarming number of monos that look every bit as stable inverted as a multi. ;)

    I think #2 and #6 will be sticking points when comparing boats. As soon as you check the catamaran box you guarantee higher expense and complexity of systems. A single engine and single helm station jump right out as unlikely for a cruising cat.

    I'm trying to make these sorts of decisions myself ... I have to decide how much of 30 knot cruise speed I'm willing to give up for a greater than 350 mile range. :)

    R
     
  11. CTMD
    Joined: Dec 2007
    Posts: 198
    Likes: 9, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 117
    Location: Melbourne, Aus

    CTMD Naval Architect

    Talus,

    check www.adventurebay.co.nz the company owner is a very experianced powercat "cruiser" , his last boat was an 86' Tennant, and we designed the powercats in their range to fit his brief based upon actual experiance.

    With regards to prices/lb this is a very difficult stratagy. As Alik pointed out it will vary a lot depending on the materials used with the largest variations being for composite boats where you could have a super high tech Nomex/Carbon boat being compared to a chopped strand mat boat. Add to that the fact that the structure may be as small a componet of the final price as 25% or as much at 80% and you start to realise the issues. My advice is find the designs you like and ask the designer or builder for contact info for an owner. Most owners are more than willing to talk about their boats and you'll get a far better feeling for the actual cost than you do with a designer/builder unless they are quoting to build it for you. Kitset boats rarely turn out as cheap as the people marketing the plans claim.

    If a designer won't give you these details then it usually means the boat cost much more than the estimates, didn't perform as claimed or there was a falling out between designer/client. These falling outs are very rarely the clients fault.
     
  12. masalai
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 6,823
    Likes: 121, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 1882
    Location: cruising, Australia

    masalai masalai

    Retro, a Robin Chamberlin design, 14 odd metres loa power cat called "Foreign Affair" was for sale (I am not sure but I think the asking was in the vicinity of AU$1.2million) and I saw it in the Raby Bay area close to Brisbane, Queensland...

    http://www.icecat.com.au/objectives.htm is on "extended sea trials"
     
  13. talus
    Joined: Sep 2008
    Posts: 5
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Vancouver

    talus Junior Member

    All good input and discussion.

    The aim of my post was to attempt to establish some approximate costs - manufacturers being so reluctant to publish them.

    I listed "Seaworthiness" as a prime consideration so that I could differentiate my desired vessel (an ocean crosser) from those powercats designed for coastal use (i.e. ICW, US great loop etc). I also felt bad putting affordability first --- but in the end, if I can't afford it the other considerations don't matter.

    Here is a Tennant designed 56' Trawler built in 2001 and listed for $749,000 USD on Yachtworld.com. Based on the price discussed here, 749K looks to be good value for a very capable vessel (condition dependent of course). Detail of the design are here http://www.tennantdesign.co.nz/index.php?page=icebear.

    Refreshingly, I did notice that Antares (formerly PDQ) does list their Sail Catamaran prices clearly right here http://www.liveantares.com/44pricing.htm. In short, as of 2008 a 44' sail cat base model is $775,000 and a well equipped one is $839,000. I would consider Antares cats to be on the Luxury side of the line.

    Back in 2003 Eric Sponberg wrote:

    Most do-it-yourself builders will underestimate costs, almost by a factor of 10--when they think it will cost $10,000, it will really cost $100,000. Professionally built, a 40' boat will cost $300,000, give or take. You can [save] same some on the cost of labor, but you will have to hire some labor to help you because you need more than two hands to do many things. You can also figure that the materials will run somewhere between 20% to 30% of the total cost, so for $300,000 total, your materials for the boat will be in the neighborhood of $60,000 to $90,000.

    Costs for different sizes of boats will vary with the cube of the length, so based on the cost of $300,000 for a 40' boat, you can figure the cost for a 50' boat would be, roughly, $300,000 x 50^3/40^3 = $585,937.50. This again is professionally built, and if you know what you are doing, you might save some of that cost for your own labor. These number do NOT include the cost of the place to build the boat, which is another major factor.
     
  14. masalai
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 6,823
    Likes: 121, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 1882
    Location: cruising, Australia

    masalai masalai

    talus, I clicked on the 2 Tennant links and both were not available anymore.... (It is about a month since Mr Tennant died....? Some of his designs were very fuel efficient and could make good ocean passages.... Very similar to "Foreign Affair"
     

  15. talus
    Joined: Sep 2008
    Posts: 5
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Vancouver

    talus Junior Member

    Sorry, links corrected.
     
Loading...
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.