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Old 14-09-2008, 22:40   #46
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Actually Gludy, size doesn’t matter as “due diligence” by the owner has nothing to do with wealth, but a level of personal involvement at very early stages to create a viable business plan to define and support that owner’s wishes.

No amount of high priced experts who often become part of a wealthy owner’s retinue when things go wrong… is ever a substitute for poor planning prior to contract.

At $700k an Owner would need to manage most of the pre-contract work himself, but it is still doable for about 10% of his build budget and a lot of personal research.

This very deep level of detail and standards that becomes the bid package, generally scares most of the bad builders away, which to me is a good thing as I am sure Gludy can attest that trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear of a builder, is an expensive waste of time.

But in all fairness Gludy, if you were starting a business and you failed to define your own standards sufficiently so that your Contractors could clearly understand exactly what you would accept, then it could be argued that both parties contributed to the atmosphere of being a victim.


Claiming “ignorance” is the refuge of the lazy and it applies to both parties


Unfortunately, I have met some owners as well as builders who enjoy that adversarial part of the game more that they do their own creation.

Those personalities, I prefer to avoid!
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Old 14-09-2008, 22:49   #47
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The real cost and risk starts after you buy a boat....
That's fine.......avoiding all the problems I mentioned by buying a boat that already exists still sounds good. At least you know what you are getting...because it exists! Who needs all those hassles of fighting with a builder and potential loss of money? I don't see any advantages.

One of the mantras of cruisers is to keep things simple...and in this respect, I agree.

Someone please tell me why putting your money up front for a boat that only exists on a hard drive is better??
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Old 14-09-2008, 23:06   #48
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Yeah David but if we did not have those brave souls willing to build new boats…..then there wouldn’t be any used ones out there for you and I to check out.

Sure, creating a custom boat to fulfill your personal tastes is a lot of work and of course risk and stress if things go wrong….But if things go right and you are pleased with the outcome, then there is no greater feeling of accomplishment for a sailor, other than fatherhood!

You have created something uniquely different and personal.
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Old 14-09-2008, 23:07   #49
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That's fine.......avoiding all the problems I mentioned by buying a boat that already exists still sounds good. At least you know what you are getting...because it exists! Who needs all those hassles of fighting with a builder and potential loss of money? I don't see any advantages.

One of the mantras of cruisers is to keep things simple...and in this respect, I agree.
I was joking but there was a touch of sarcasm. My last boat had a ton of issues and was already existing. Most of the problems I've seen are related to all the toys but my last boat had really poor stainless (polish every week or else), holes that were cut for portholes then moved and not patched properly, poor gelcoat application, blisters, a sugar scoop transom that was added improperly (I thought it was original) and a bunch of stuff that are only partially the fault of the builder. I wasn't aware of any of these issue and yet it was a very sound boat that I loved.

KISS is absolutely the best approach. I just don't seem to be able to do without a few toys.
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Old 14-09-2008, 23:55   #50
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I shall try to keep my tone polite too! There is a lot of valuable feedback here from people on both sides of the fence.

As to my credentials - I'm a registered professional mechanical engineer, with a concentration in naval architecture. Currently I'm a project manager for Robert Allan Ltd. Robert Allan Ltd. - Naval Architects and Marine Engineers We mostly do tugs, but I'm the PM on 2 fireboats right now, as well as a few other tugs, barges, etc. I've designed commercial vessels in the <100m range for 17 years. I also worked for Farr Yacht Design for 3 years, working on the designs for America's Cup, Volvo RTW racers, IMS racing boats, and big >100' cruising yachts.

In the world I am used to, yes commercial builders are late, there are problems with the design and the build, and things never go as you would hope.

Why - because you're not building hundreds of thousands of Hondas here. There just isn't enough engineering time and budget to get it 100% right. We at RAL do have a new ISO 9001 QC program in place - and we are amazed at the things that we are catching before they go to the builder. But things still aren't perfect and I doubt they will be.

Should the buyer have to pay for design/build errors? No, and they normally wouldn't, but they will have to pay for changes they make after the build is underway. Should they accept a late delivery? If they are smart, the contract will have meaningful penalty clauses for late delivery.

The reality of custom boats is you're essentially designing a new boat each time. Change orders are a fact of life, (but 30% is way above what I am accustomed to I have to say). I'm not apologizing for the marine industry, but I am trying to educate custom boat buyers that expecting perfection is not a realistic expectation.

With a boat #4, you're still building a semi-custom boat. You've probably changed things here and there from #1 and 2, and applied a few other lessons you found out on #3.

Final note: Friends of ours bought a new at the time PDQ 42 - I told them not to accept a hull number less than 5!
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Old 15-09-2008, 00:48   #51
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I built a new semi-custom contest 55cs (building no 3) here in the netherlands 9 years ago. The builder was (and is) considered as a high quality builder. Still there were lots of issues and a delivery date 2 months late.

After having owned a much more simpler ocean 60 for the last 5 years (travelling through the carribean) , i now know that complexity (of the added systems, goodies and toys) has a lot to do with long work lists and problems.

We chose to built the chris white 57 in Chile with alwoplast based on the skills of the designer in choosing a builder, the financial stability of alwoplast (backed by a wealthy chilean group) and the fact that the owner was a german (to me they are known to be very precise).

I did not bother much with the contract in legal terms, but made some adjustments in the specs of the boat (sliding door, bimini platform, bunks layout, different doors).

In order to get the best out of the building process i decided to involve a surveyor from the start of the project. To determine how often he had to supervise (and travel to chile) we started out by visiting the yard before the built. He decided that given the quality of the yard and the builders he needed to check on the building process 3 or 4 times in total (16 months of building time). He makes a thorough analysis of all the details and fabrication specifics every time we were there.

Having the participation of the surveyor for the whole process gives me a high amount of confidence. There are a lot of decisions when underway for which i do not have the technical knowledge (even though i am an engeneer) to make a weighted decision. The designer has his own reasons for doing things as has the builder, but the surveyor is there for me and me only.

We are now 4 months from delivery. I do expect a list of things that will need repair or change (especially after a month of trial cruising in the beautiful chilean southern waters), but i hope no fundamental construction issues. The surveyor will cost me (paying for time and travel expenses to chile) 1% of building costs.

Having also the designer chris white as a source for questions is in my opinion a huge advantage, because you can tap into his knowledge about everything. He likes to keep it simple, so it is a good mechanism to keep all the extra wishes from both my wife and me in balance with weight issues and complexity issues.

I was in valdivia chile on the first A57 delivered by Alwoplast with Chris White and my surveyor. We could not have been more happier with the work done !

Ron
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Old 15-09-2008, 01:23   #52
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Hi Evan, you will find that the commercial ship and boatbuilding industry follows a much stricter guideline, more sensible in their approach to pre-contract design work and for experienced clients who are very much watching the bottom line.

Comparing your sane environment with some of the top yacht architect/designers and their superstar egos is a completely different kettle of fish that would amaze you in their chutzpah for designing “flowing lines” and ignoring the engineering.

I have actually hired good commercial companies like yours to check their work prior to going to the bid process, when I knew I was being fed a crock and needed to remind them of the client’s interest and bring them back to reality.

The 30% is not an exaggerated number as custom interior detailed work carries a high percentage of the budget and re-work of this becomes astronomical. I could give you examples of 50 to 100%, but confidentiality agreements prevent me from revealing sources. Neither the Builder, Designer, Client or his Rep ever want this made public but within the conference room, those numbers are actually disclosed for comparison.

“Should the buyer have to pay for design/build errors? No, and they normally wouldn't, but they will have to pay for changes they make after the build is underway”.

That is the crux of the whole problem. If you do not do the detailed engineering design work prior to construction, you can be hit with change orders which are a result of design deficiencies when they discover that those plumbing runs have wiped out interior space and that amazing Rubik’s office design you created, has only enough depth for a bookshelf. Therefore you need to build out and that makes for an expensive change in arrangement.

I remember once having a conversation with the head Architect of Feadship and the Builder’s CEO.

They argued in favor of selecting them to do the “Design and Build” as opposed to using an outside design company to do the design and engineering work. Their reasoning is that it would prevent the Client from being caught in the middle of a finger pointing exercise if things went wrong as a result of the design company with no real assets, making a mistake and providing the builder with the wrong information.

My reply to them was; Ok, but if you use the in house design and build, would you know if a mistake was made, or that you were getting the most out of the space available?

Needless to say, I am not on that builder’s Xmas list, but we did go ahead and invest in a detailed feasibility study and ended up having a wonderful build experience with them.

My neighbors in adjoining PM offices who went the standard route, did not have such a happy experience.


Spend the money and effort on detail design and engineering work…before you go to contract, then you know what you are getting. Simple as that!
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Old 15-09-2008, 08:23   #53
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I think the typical boat buying scenario does not involve a whole bunch of payed experts as some have described above.


In my mind it goes something like this:

The buyer looks at boats wherever, makes an appointment to try one with the builder or his representative.
Likes what they see, and decide to buy one. The builder has shown them what is standard and what the options are, and together a list is made up and attached to the contract stating what woods veneers, etc.

These "typical boat buyers" should not be expected to have either the technical knowledge nor project management expertise that some have suggested above.

They have bought a Product. i.e a standard boat as specified in the contract and published specifications.

The customer should then rightly expect that the product is delivered to a standard as he saw on the demo boat, just new.

That the vessel is built according to the rules specified in the contract, Probably CE Category A in this case.

That the vessel is delivered reasonably on time unless there have been the usual exception clauses like war, strikes etc.

That the snag list is attended to in a timely manner with diligence.
Happily this is often the case. Just not so with Butterfly. The responsibility for any delays, and quality issues lies entirely with the builder. A professional builder works with change orders, and this includes information to the customer on the influence the change order will have to the delivery date.


If you as a builder know that your customers are travelling 12 hours by plane to come and see the launching of the dream boat, why the H*** don't you advise them of the delays well in advance? Delay the launch date whatever.

Why even show them a boat that is filthy, damaged surfaces etc?

Why doesn't the builder get the problems sorted in the right order, and as fast as possible, with the best quality, especially after the customer pointed out the problems?

If I was the builder, I would be too ashamed to not do everything within reason to get things sorted out.

Instead the builder has 2 very unhappy customers, sitting around for months on end.

Whether it is a question of money, incompetence and mismanagement is the question.

The bigger question is: Would you buy one of these boats, knowing what you now know?

I know I wouldn't

Alan
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Old 15-09-2008, 08:44   #54
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I really do think that in the case of this example the boat is a standard production boat - not a custom made boat.

IN UK law a product has to be fit for purpose and that guarantee can extend up to 6 years. A boat engine or hull for example if properly taken care of that does not last 6 years will make the seller liable for the defect regardless of any limitation of warranty in any contract. The question is - how long should such a product be reasonably expected to last? Some products may be deemed to have a life of months but products such as boats would be deemed to have a life greater than 6 years and so come to the 6 year maximum. Its a very strong law.

The consumer should be very careful about rejection - the time to reject a product is limited and if missed can mean that the supplier has a right to remedy the defect.

In the case of boats the public are not deemed to be the experts - the boat builders are putting themselves up as that. The public expertise is limited to providing the cash to buy the boat

In the case of mods or extras being added to a production boat, although I understand in this case that is not really the problem, the builder should advise the buyer if there is any issue are regards warranty or delay.

For example at my meeting with Duncan from St Francis after we had chosen a new wood material he had never used before he asked us to understand that he could not warrant its future behaviour - he had an positive opinion but no track record of using a light bamboo veneer and so we offered a letter making it clear that we take the risk. That way any problem can be established from the outset and who is responsible for what made very clear. It is just honest straight forward business.

To claim, as some do, that you need to establish detail technical; drawings etc etc is absurd on a production boat. If it is not a production boat then it would need to have new certification for every one and in this case that is not the case.

To me the buying of a boat should be a pleasure - the filling of a dream - it should not involve hassle or problems that one should have expected to be sorted out way before the boat is presented to the customer. That is just my opinion but I guess that is how the law would also see it.

So perhaps the saddest thing is the tarnishing of what should be a happy time so lets hope that all the problems are sorted and Butterfly becomes a safe and happy boat for its new owners.
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Old 15-09-2008, 11:52   #55
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This is not a custom build!

Take a look at the latest blog update, some positive news, and read the comment on this not being a custom build right at the bottom.

of Butterfly and Barnacle


I wonder if the same conclusion/decision by the builder would have been as speedy if there wasn't a blog?

Next chapter will be the weighing of the boat.

I still haven't had any takers for the weight bet

Lightship it is supposed to be under 5 tons as far as I remember, anyway there are multiple posts with the weight claims.... just need to dig them out if there are any doubts.

Alan
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Old 15-09-2008, 12:02   #56
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I think its great news that Gideon will not leave SA until all the problems are sorted and the boat delivered all working and to spec ........ thats a real positive step in the right direction and a clear commitment that must give some relief to the customers - lets hope Butterfly takes flight soon.

I rather enjoy second hand sailing following blogs so the sooner she is at sea being used the better
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Old 15-09-2008, 12:04   #57
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I still haven't had any takers for the weight bet
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Old 15-09-2008, 12:22   #58
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What if I increase the odds?

Any takers?

Alan
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Old 15-09-2008, 12:34   #59
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Old 15-09-2008, 12:38   #60
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I think its great news that Gideon will not leave SA until all the problems are sorted and the boat delivered all working and to spec ........ thats a real positive step in the right direction and a clear commitment that must give some relief to the customers - lets hope Butterfly takes flight soon.

I rather enjoy second hand sailing following blogs so the sooner she is at sea being used the better
I saw a flat for sale in Holland
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