Fitting Out A Liveaboard We Tell You How And The Costs Involved
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Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 11:23am

Fitting Out A Narrow Boat 

Have you ever wondered how much it would cost to fit out a narrowboat? Well we have put a pricing example together to give you a rough guideline of what it would cost.


We have based the costings on a 57 foot shell which is an average sized narrowboat, and used a mid range of products and fittings. You will need to factor in your own time and any professional help for a contractor.

A very basic second hand boat which needs work; sometimes known as a project boat will cost;

Prices in the region of;

  • 35 foot £15,000
  • 57 foot £26,000
  • 70 foot £35,000

New Shell/Sailaway:

Alternatively you can buy a new shell, known as a sailaway (57 foot) for as little as £18,000 +VAT see here or £29,250 +VAT see here and fit it out yourself.

There are a number of different skills needed to fit out a shell. The key ones are, woodwork, plumbing, electrical, painting and gas fitting. Consider if you have the skills to carry out these jobs and also the time to complete the project. 

You will need to add the costs for any labour needed, as well as the cost of the fittings to the total project cost.

For a 57ft boat you should allow around 120 working days (that is roughly 60 weekends)  spending around 8hrs per day working on the boat. Additional time will be needed for research and shopping!

Pricing example of fitting out a 57 foot shell

These costs are estimates based on a 57 foot narrow boat and are only a guide to give you an idea of approximate cost. We have picked a shell priced mid way between the two guide prices discussed earlier.

Of course the quality of the fittings you purchase will have an affect on the overall cost, in this example. We have used mid range products to give a estimated price for this exercise. You can upgrade, or go cheaper depending on your own budget.

 57 foot Boat Shell
 Basic Sailaway
 Engine (38HP)
 Spray foam
 Delivery  £1000 £32,800

 Cost  Sub Cost For This Section
 Upper lining 
 Lower lining  £660  
 £90  £1870
 Wiring  £950  
 Fixtures (Light fittings etc)  £275  
 Consumer unit / Fuses  £120  £1345
 Hot water system & calorifier
 Cold water supply
 Pump etc
 Waste  £60  £1505
 MFI Unit Assy / doors  £190  
 Oven & Hob  £359  
 Fridge  £369  
 Sink & taps  £95  
 Work Top Tiles  £155  £1,168
 Bulkheads / partitioning and doors
 Shower (Tray, tiles taps etc)  £300  
 Hand basin
 Toilet  £260  
 Accessories  £150  £930
 Framework for bed
 Mattress  £180  £480
 Table  £180  
 Cushions  £340  £520
 Carpet Tiles  £225  
 Vinyl tiles (bathroom)  £90  £315
 Curtain Tracks
 Curtain Material
 Shelves / Overhead cupboards
 Outside paint top
 Outside Paint (bottom - black)


 Other misc (screws, fittings etc)  £400  
 Brass vents
 Battery (domestic)
 Inverter  £425  
 Fenders  £300  
 Wood trim around inside windows   £600  £5,080
 Total Fit-Out
 Grand Total Completed Boat

If fitting out a shell isn't for you, and you would prefer to buy a boat that is already fitted out and ready for living on, check out the used boats for sale at our marina.

We have boats of various styles, lengths and prices to suit all budgets available for sale! Take a look at our Narrowboats for sale

» Categories: Narrowboat Advice


Fred | Mon Dec 1, 2014 at 10:40am
Hi, just read through your blog and I have to say you give a lot of very useful tips and information. You didn't mention heating in your lists (other than the hot water system), and I'm told this is really important in the winter. Also I understand you are required to have VHF radio and Navigation lights fitted for Tidal sections, is this true, and how much should I budget for?
Whilton Marina | Mon Dec 1, 2014 at 2:18pm
Yes there is a protocol for tidal waters; VHF radio is required; costs between £99- £300, depending on specification. You would need to do a VHF Marine radio course - online RYA courses cost £65 see the RYA website for more details: Navigation lights are required to be fitted to the port & starboard of the boat on tidal waters and cost from £12.50 each.
Justin | Wed Sep 30, 2015 at 3:21am
thank you. One of hardest parts so far has been trying to find a builder with a view on costs. This is made even more difficult as I live overseas- people seem either incapable or reluctant to deal with me.
Lydia | Sat Apr 29, 2017 at 8:07pm
Hello, I am fitting out my boat this year and I don't know what kind of water heater I should be look g for to do shower, sink and basin? Any suggestions and pros and cons to gas or electric water heaters
Whilton Marina | Tue May 2, 2017 at 2:50pm
Hello LydiaYou can still get gas water heaters, but we seem to see more diesel systems, such as Webasto & Eberspacher in conjunction with a calorifier on narrowboats these days.
Mr N Harris | Thu Mar 29, 2018 at 8:44am
Please could you forward an estimate for a shell and basic fit out of a Dutch barge?Thank you,RegardsNick Harris
Whilton Marina | Tue Apr 3, 2018 at 12:53pm
Hello Mr Harris, unfortunately we don't take on fitting out narrowboat shells for customers, as we are too busy with repairs and maintenance. Best to find a specialist company who builds and fits out narrowboats.
Steve | Wed May 2, 2018 at 10:44am
How much would the fitting out cost be for a 60x12 wide beam..
Whilton Marina | Tue May 22, 2018 at 3:57pm
Hello Steve, A difficult question to answer (how much it would cost to fit out a 60x12ft wide beam boat) It just depends on what you want fitting into the boat and what specification and quality you use. Fitting out a widebeam could cost up to 40% more than a narrowboat of the same length and specification. Best advice would be to ask a boat fitter for a quotation.
David Reynolds | Tue Jun 19, 2018 at 4:14am
I’m looking into buying a narrow boat to live on I’m thinking the 60 to 70 foot because I would like to be able to get a motorbike on it
Whilton Marina | Tue Jun 19, 2018 at 2:42pm
Hello David, you have come to the right place to buy a narrowboat for liveaboard. If you register your details by clicking on the 'register for boat updates' button at the top of our website you will receive email updates when boats come in for sale that match your specification. Good luck!

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