There’s not much to say here really. Common sense dictates that the only way to choose is to get out into the market and visit the canal boat builder
s in person. Visit premises, boat yards, boat shows and talk to owners along the towpath. This is not so easy with overseas canal boat manufacturers
but often inspection trips are offered to serious buyers. Ask the question but expect to have already paid a deposit and committed to a purchase. If this is the case, really the only way to validate your choice is to talk to current owners and canvass their opinions and experiences of the buying process.
With UK based canal boat builder
s it is obviously logistically easier to physically visit their manufacturing premises. Do so. When you do, though, go along with an idea of what you want. This is why we say the key area in boat buying is research. Have as clear an idea as possible of what you want to do with your boat and what you want on it. Draw up and print off a list of requirements and sit down with the canal boat builder
and discuss them. Use the FitOutPontoon for help with ideas and options as we not only offer a directory of who does what and where, we also discuss layout, design and equipment specification.
During your meetings you will soon get an idea if you can work with the person you are trusting to realise your dreams. Establish that he will be happy to let you review progress over the phone, via a pictorail build diary or by dropping into the yard at appointed times to check that your visions have been interpreted correctly. If it is not possible to visit regularly, maybe you are an overseas resident or your canal boat builder
is at other end of the country, then consider appointing a surveyor to oversee the build. Remember the same level of trust will have to be established with your representative as with your canal boat builder
. Communication is the key and expect there to be issues and complications, especially with a sophisticated build.
Unless you have already decided to go for a very specific shell/fit out combination that is unique to one firm, then shortlist your canal boat builder
choice down to 3 or 4 companies. Use testimonials from current owners and the internet based boating forums to crystallise your decision.
Not all canal boat builder
s are members of the trade organisations such as the Canal Boatbuilders Association but those that are will have access to the standard contracts issued by the British Marine Federation. If you are in any way unsure of contractual terms then ask for a copy of the contract and take it to your solicitor for review.
As a final note, if you expect your builder to meet deadlines, interpret your designs accurately and to bring the project in on budget, then be reasonable in your demands, keep up to date with any payment structure you have agreed and be understanding if unforeseen problems arise.