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Old 23-08-2008, 12:59   #1
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Built by Owner's Hands

So I can see a boat built by the owner himself, would be dirt cheap, and for good reason. If the fiberglass boat is by a surveyor, said to be in good shape, if it has been sounded and has no detected problems with the hull.

Then what are major concerns having been constructed by the owner from a kit?
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Old 23-08-2008, 13:56   #2
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You simply don't know how good or how bad is an amateur builder.

Production boats build track records based on dozens if not hundreds of boats that have been built. Production boats build a history which helps to determine which are the good ones and which are the turkeys. A single home built boat cannot possibly have a history from which to make an assessment of build quality.

I am not saying that home built boats are necessarily good or bad...it is just a lot more difficult to assess their quality because of lack of history.

Personally, I would not buy a boat from an amateur builder. There are too many unknowns. Someone would have had to built quite a number of successful boats to consider purchasing their boat...in that case, they would be a professional anyways.

Also, as production boats are built, they get refined so that there are fewer and fewer bugs...that is the theory at least. With a first built boat, that is essentially a prototype. Its almost unheard for a prototype to have no bugs.
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Old 23-08-2008, 14:15   #3
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As David said amateur built, or not can be good. If you have a boat in mind that is home built. Get a surveyor to do an in water survey. My boat was built by a yard, and then the owner took the boat home, and put the three main pieces together. It was surveyed to be strong enough to crush icebergs. Of course I will not test these words said by the surveyor........LOLOLOLOLOL
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Old 23-08-2008, 14:21   #4
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I've lloked at boats, sailed boats and owned boats that were home built. Not completely but the interior. Some were kits and some were not. Some were better than the ones built by the yards, some were far worse. My point is that it doesn't have to be a bad boat just because it's home built. If you look at it, touch it, open all the lockers etc you will very soon get an idea if the builder knew what he was doing or not. If you find parts that look cheap and sloppy, chances are that all of it is cheap and sloppy. Having said this I must add that my experience with home built boats only goes as far as the interior, the hulls have all been manufactured by professionals. I wouldn't consider buying a boat with a home built hull. This however doesn't mean that all of those boats are bad...

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Old 23-08-2008, 19:24   #5
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I wouldn't consider buying a boat with a home built hull. This however doesn't mean that all of those boats are bad...
Ours certainly won't fit into the bad category (I hope ) It won't come to us as a kit but they are available cut on CnC mills. We intend to use top of the line materials and methods to produce our 31.5' trawler, multiaxial fabrics (glass and carbon fibre), epoxy resins (infused), PVC foam core, diesel electric propulsion, etc.yadda yadda yadda..... Anyhow I myself probably wouldn't buy a boat built by an amateur even though it may have been really well built. On the other hand I've seen some terribly constructed production boats. When in doubt obtain the services of a surveyor to assess the boat and its systems.
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Old 23-08-2008, 21:08   #6
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I've owned a "professionally built" boat, and am currently building my own. I've also sailed on several home-built boats.

I would be very hesitant to ever buy a "professionally built" or production boat ever again. Some of the practises used in the "professional build" of my old boat beggared belief.

I would certainly buy an owner-built boat, but only after thoroughly going over it myself, and possibly having a surveyor look at it too.

Most owner builders take care so that all the systems, such as electrical and plumbing, can be accessed. Many production boats use moulded drop-in hull liners that look great, and hide a multitude of sins, from poor quality non-marine grade wiring, (that is almost impossible to replace) to plumbing that can never be repaired without cutting the boat apart.

IMHO someone who is building a boat for themselves will put in more effort than someone doing it for money.
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Old 26-08-2008, 06:25   #7
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So I can see a boat built by the owner himself, would be dirt cheap... what are major concerns having been constructed by the owner from a kit...
Professionally built (for the masses) as versus amateur built is a bit like the difference between fast-food and home cooked… Some of us have no business in the kitchen and Mickey Dee’s will beat us every time… others can run serious competition with some of the best chefs… I think what a professionally built boat has to market is its reputation – even the highest priced may have some shortcomings, but it’ll be a known, predictable quality… amateur built is a boat on boat affair, and even the best surveyor could miss sizeable defects… Like many, I’ve seen homebuilt boats (and aircraft, cars, whatever…) built by true craftsmen that are genuine works of art and worth far more than their builder will ever get out of them on resale – and I’d guess almost every marina has a derelict rotting away somewhere that was a supposed to be fillet mignon but was thrown together by someone not qualified to make a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich…

Not sure amateur boats are ever dirt cheap when the labor is factored in… as some have said, it can be fun, but one of the most expensive ways to “buy” a boat. I think kits used to be much more popular and were price competitive a quarter century ago for those who wanted to invest sweat-equity if funds were in short supply – but the rather depressed prices one currently finds in a rather glutted monohull used boat market seems to have shifted that noticeably… But nothing wrong with amateur built; however, the buyer needs to be knowledgeable – or the potential builder aware of their limitations and qualifications – as well as, especially, how much time is available to achieve the expected result…
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Old 26-08-2008, 14:55   #8
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The boat is selling dirt cheap, but another of the same kind of boat, this one a blue-water sailed boat, is selling for much more price. I think that boat is over-priced, but I definitely think this boat that has only seen large lakes, is under-priced and possibly a deal.

Things I wish to know are:

How does the rigging differ in fresh water? Is it only in how they have weathered and aged?

Also, is it even possible for a boat to be constructed, and be very flawed, yet have been afloat for the last 12 years?

Everything by a recent survey seems to be "satisfactorily installed" or such...

The other thing concerning me was the "wet" parts of the lower 10'' of rudder in "moisture readings".

The hull is in the dry range, the hull was laid-up as a 1'' to 3/4'' glass and 3/4'' foam and balsa core above water line.

It just sounds over-all good to me, and worth maybe a personal inspection and ultimately another survey(? correct?) and thus maybe moving this in the direction of a purchase?
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Old 26-08-2008, 15:06   #9
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By the by, it's from Bruce Roberts' Designs...
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Old 26-08-2008, 16:55   #10
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Professionally built (for the masses) as versus amateur built is a bit like the difference between fast-food and home cooked… Some of us have no business in the kitchen and Mickey Dee’s will beat us every time… others can run serious competition with some of the best chefs… I think what a professionally built boat has to market is its reputation – even the highest priced may have some shortcomings, but it’ll be a known, predictable quality… amateur built is a boat on boat affair, and even the best surveyor could miss sizeable defects… Like many, I’ve seen homebuilt boats (and aircraft, cars, whatever…) built by true craftsmen that are genuine works of art and worth far more than their builder will ever get out of them on resale – and I’d guess almost every marina has a derelict rotting away somewhere that was a supposed to be fillet mignon but was thrown together by someone not qualified to make a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich…
dcstrng said it quite well.

I’ve found that if you walk into a kitchen and the knives are sharp, the food tends to be better. Not because the knives are sharp but rather, if that detail has been paid attention to, other details tend to be follow. That is, the standards tend to be higher across the board.

Likewise, the construction of a boat is often revealed in the details. Does the back of the electrical panel look orderly or is it more like a rat’s nest? Does the plumbing system make sense or does seem like it was designed by Ludwig the Mad? Is the engine compartment neat and orderly or could it double as a second trashcan? Basically all those places you don’t want have to go wrong are the places you should check right after you get the first look. But that only works if you know what you are looking at. So the obvious answer is to get a survey.

I assume you're sensible enough to do that but are wondering what makes the boat is a good candidate to survey without knowing what to look for in the first place. The path you should be on is reading books on repair of boats because sooner or later you are going to need to know that. The other thing is to know the material of construction well, along with it's good and bad points. This page should help a bit (check the top and about 3/4 of the way down).

Otherwise, my only advice is this: talk to the owner, especially if he is the builder. Most builders are only too happy to tell you about how they did it, what problems they had, what they learned, quirks of the boat, what they would differently and so on. Take them to lunch when they have some time free, it'll be worth the time and money.
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Old 26-08-2008, 17:34   #11
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That's a very helpful site, may take me a few days to absorb it all, but thanks much.
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Old 26-08-2008, 17:53   #12
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All the great replies here are what make this site so valuable.
My Golden Gate 30 was finished from a kit by a patient, skilled and knowledgeable artist (not me :-) then sailed to the South Pacific and back. None the less, I still find "curious" installations but I trust more thought went into the boat than a production model.
I am now building a 8-ft stitch-and-glue pram, my first boat-building project, and I realize all the thought and labor required. The learning curve is not close to comparable to that of a production or professional scale but I am learning allot, will have pride of ownership and know every inch of the boat.
I hope that helps your thought process - good luck.
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Old 26-08-2008, 18:08   #13
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I am now building a 8-ft stitch-and-glue pram, my first boat-building project, and I realize all the thought and labor required.
I love wood/epoxy boats. The material has one of the lower costs when you look at over the life cycle (there are lots of 30 year + boats out there). Also it does very well for flexing, second only to carbon, if I recall correctly.

Not so good with fire though.

Nevertheless, a great project with a useful product.
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