As brokers we come across many narrowboats that we would class as “project boats”. But what leads us to label a narrowboat as a project boat?
If a boat is…..
- Old and tired and no longer shines (needs TLC)
- The interior has seen better days
- There is no interior!
- The engine is blowing smoke or not working at all
Buying A Project Boat - Is This The Right Thing For You?
If you are considering taking on a project boat to restore, you are going to need some basic skills from carpentry, plumbing, electrics and be handy with a paint brush. If you can’t carry out all of these jobs yourself you will need to employ someone to work with you on the project.
Being in good health and reasonably fit is also going to help, as there will be some physical work involved. The other two main ingredients you will need are money and time!
Be prepared for the unexpected when fitting out a project boat. If funds are tight then allow 10-15% of your total budget for the unexpected. It doesn’t matter how well you plan there is often an unexpected problem that turns up. IF you do keep it on budget, that’s great and means you may have a little left over to purchase some additional luxuries.
Personalising the interior to your taste may not be the best idea in the long run. Bear in mind that one day you may want to sell the boat and your taste may not be that of everyone else. It may be best to keep the interior neutral.
You will need to plan your renovation project around work (if in employment) and family. Work out how much free time you have to enable you to work on the boat and make a schedule and work to it.
When planning the layout; gather inspiration from the internet and boating magazines. Look for clever storage solutions as well as various ideas for berths and the dinette. The advantage of building from scratch enables you to have a totally bespoke design, so take full advantage of this and don’t rush this process.
Good planning and working with knowledgeable people will go a long way to a successful build. Giving you a boat to be proud of and if you decide to sell it will be a very desirable boat for the resale market. Make sure that plumbing & wiring is accessible for maintenance purposes in the future.
When restoring a project boat the best advice we can give you is to remember that the boat must pass the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) and have a valid certification. It is more important that the basic systems such as mechanics, plumbing and wiring are to the highest standard. Make sure when allocating your budget that you buy and fit the best you can, rather than spending your money on fancy interior accessories like soft furnishings and gizmos. These will not help the boat pass the inspection. Sound and reliable systems are the sign of a quality build.
If you are hiring people to help with various jobs aboard the boat, make sure they have the relevant skills and experience before you start. Ask to see examples of projects they have completed in the past and ask for references.
When working on the boat, keep it tidy, this will reduce the risk of accidents and will boost morale when things are taking longer than expected or you hit a problem. Working in an organised tidy environment is more effective and you are less likely to lose your tools!
Boat restoration is a labour of love, but the rewards are well worth the time and effort. The end result will give you a boat fitted to your own specifications and many years of happy cruising.
Here is an example of a project boat we had for sale she was called 'Got It' and was renamed Ducks Nest after her renovation.
Before Pictures of Got It
After Pictures of Ducks Nest
Are you looking for a project boat?
Check out our 'narrowboats for sale area' for a boat crying out for a bit of TLC!