Is restoring a boat all that it’s made out to be?

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If you’re thinking about buying an old boat to restore it, think again. Unless you have unlimited funds, lots and lots of time and the technical knowhow, you should not be considering a restoration. It might seem like you’re getting a bargain. The price might be dirt cheap, but that still, small voice in your head should be telling you otherwise. Boat owners often have this idyllic idea of a beautifully restored boat in their head, yet getting the boat to that pristine condition is no easy feat. Good intention is not nearly enough for a boat restoration.

[pullquote]IF YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO ESTIMATE THE COST OF THE BOAT RESTORATION, YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT QUALIFIED TO ATTEMPT IT.[/pullquote]If you do decide to take the plunge, excuse the pun, you will need to be properly prepared for what is to come.

  1. The basic structure of the boat should be intact
  2. The boat needs to have certain appeal for buyers if you decide to sell.
  3. The cost of the restoration needs to be carefully calculated with a complete end cost.
  4. The cost of the resale value needs to be mirrored against the restoration costs.
  5. You need to factor in how many hours the restoration the job is going to take (if you only have six hours a week free, it might take 20 years to complete the job).
  6. Jobs always take a lot longer than they are planned for on paper.
  7. You need to have the ability and the tools to do the job.
  8. Never assume the restoration will be easy, it won’t.
  9. You will need to have extreme patience and resolve when undertaking the boat refit.


The answer to this question is a definite no! Boats that have good reputations do, and boats that have chequered pasts don’t. Boats that make good restoration projects are often termed classics. Just because the boat you have your eye on is cheap, it still doesn’t make it a good project. Keep your eye on the prize which is recouping, and hopefully making a profit on the refurbished boat when the project is complete. This is basically buying a “classic” or high-end, desirable boat that has been through much of its depreciation.


Before you sign on the dotted line, do some research online. Find out what the boat will likely sell for and how desirable it is in boating spheres. The more desirable the boat is, the greater your pool of buyers will be.


Restoring a boat is costly business with numerous unforeseen expenses, time delays, technical hurdles and more. Most working people will not have the spare time to undertake such a restoration and they will in most cases have to farm out the work to contractors and boat builders.


To undertake a restoration you will need have great technical knowledge about boats and their makeup. Restorations can be particularly technical in nature.


It often takes many thousands of man hours to restore a boat. It’s not going to be a quick fix by any means because you’re often dealing with years of neglect, decay and a variety of other obstacles that will float into your path.


The answer to which boat selection is best is this – the one with the least major problems. Cosmetic restoration is way easier. Repair should always be chosen over replacement as a yardstick when buying a boat for restoration purposes.


There is about a 60% cost difference in the replacement versus repair of the motors on the boat. If the engines can be successfully repaired, you will be saving money. Rebuild engines to save costs.

Refurbishing or restoring a boat is no easy feat. It takes lots of sweat, hard work, and a whole lot of time. But, at the end of your journey, you just might be the proud owner of a gleaming classic that is the envy of the waterways.


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