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Vero F

Recommandations needed to start a project

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Hello everyone,

I just bought a narrow boat from the 80s, moored next to little Venice and I would like to completely redesign it which imply:

-move the bathroom and completely change it

-move the kitchen as well and add appliances

-new floor

-new bed

I am not going to do the work myself completely, because I am new to boating, and I really need someone to coordinate the whole renovation in order to do a nice job.

Can you recommend anyone that has done a complete refit of a narrow boat and could help me?

thanks for your help

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First is the steelwork of the boat in good condition and of value? Spending time and money to refit the interior of a bad boat is a waste of money but does appear to be a "London Disease". A boat is a boat and now matter how much you spend on the interior it will have no value if the boat itself is not sound, unless you can find a naive Londoner to sell it to. This is doubly true if you are paying others to do the work for you rather than doing it yourself as a labour of love

......Dave

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2 minutes ago, dmr said:

First is the steelwork of the boat in good condition and of value? Spending time and money to refit the interior of a bad boat is a waste of money but does appear to be a "London Disease". A boat is a boat and now matter how much you spend on the interior it will have no value if the boat itself is not sound, unless you can find a naive Londoner to sell it to. This is doubly true if you are paying others to do the work for you rather than doing it yourself as a labour of love

......Dave

Perhaps unkindly - but what DMR writes above is especially true. If the inside is rubbish, then it's most likely that the hull condition is worse. It would be great if I was wrong, but....

Before you spend any more cash, see if you can have a look under the floor in several places, if it's rusty and worse, if damp / wet - similarly if the exterior is rusty and pitted, then it's worth considering getting rid of it and start looking again . As horsey folks say "No foot, no horse". Your hull is the horse's foot. Tatty interior can be fixed, but often the hull can't - economically, that is.

 

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28 minutes ago, Vero F said:

Hello everyone,

I just bought a narrow boat from the 80s, moored next to little Venice and I would like to completely redesign it which imply:

-move the bathroom and completely change it

-move the kitchen as well and add appliances

-new floor

-new bed

I am not going to do the work myself completely, because I am new to boating, and I really need someone to coordinate the whole renovation in order to do a nice job.

Can you recommend anyone that has done a complete refit of a narrow boat and could help me?

thanks for your help

What's your budget?

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Can you do the work needed where you are moored? If you need to move every two weeks you will find it challenging

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4 hours ago, mad dog n' Englishman said:

Hello and welcome, you may find the list of work you have given could cost as much as many times more than the purchase price of your boat if paying a tradesman. 

Corrected that for you!

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10 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

£30k would seem about right for the work described. 

I'd go along with that as a budget if paying others for the work.

when looking at a new boat you can reckon on 1/3rd of the price being for the steel shell & propulsion the other 2/3rds will be for the internal fitout, systems and external paintwork. (looking at collingwoods prices this seems to still hold true, 60 foot sailaway £32,552 / 60 foot fully fitted £95,750)  
for an older boat the cost of a total refit is often more than the boat is worth when complete.

Edited by Jess--

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3 minutes ago, Jess-- said:

I'd go along with that as a budget if paying others for the work.

when looking at a new boat you can reckon on 1/3rd of the price being for the steel shell & propulsion the other 2/3rds will be for the internal fitout & systems.
for an older boat the cost of a total refit is often more than the boat is worth when complete.

When buying London accommodation for such affordable prices, the resale value is of no consequence. Flogging it for anything at all when moving off will be a bonus. 

Bear in mind rent on say a two bed flat is £30k a year. 

 

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13 hours ago, dmr said:

 

First is the steelwork of the boat in good condition and of value? Spending time and money to refit the interior of a bad boat is a waste of money but does appear to be a "London Disease".

 

Totally agree that the steelwork should be number one priority I remember the case a couple of years ago where a couple spent months refitting the inside  an old boat in London but did not bother to check that the steel work was rotten, sadly the boat sank and they lost everything.

If the OP is happy that the steelwork is good then I say good luck with your project but if the OP is not sure about the steelwork and other essential mechanics etc then I'm sure this site can provide them with the necessary guidance on what to look for. When it comes to boat safety controlled paranoia is a good thing.

MANTRA Boat safety first then make it pretty

Edited by reg

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Thanks for all the answers!

Yes the steelwork is in good condition and a complete survey was done in November 2017 which states that everything is ok on this side. Engine is in good condition as well. The whole plumbing and heating was in good order as well.

The boat definitely needs a refresh and I can take care of some of the repairs. But the whole goal was to fit it out to my taste and then to live on it. I may be mistaken but it seems that a newly fully fitted narrowboat costs around 75000 and depreciate fast while a very good 50 feet narrowboat on apollo duck costs about 40 000 regardless of the age of the hull (if it has been well maintained of course).

The boat alone cost 17 000 and from my first estimations it seems that if I put 12-15 000 I can already have a very nice kitchen, bathroom and change the floor. The rest would be DIY and decoration. 

So about +12-15 000 for renovation in addition to what I already paid versus +20 000 or +55 000 to buy a new boat (provided I manage to sell the old boat). Oh also I should mention that the boat came with the mooring, so I had to buy it to get the permanent mooring. So I may be mistaken but in this case it makes sense to fix the boat and then maybe sell it and buy a new one after I saved some money again.

 

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1 hour ago, Vero F said:

Yes the steelwork is in good condition

That's good news I hope you can appreciate our concerns on the subject as not everyone takes the steps you appear to of wisely taken. Having freelanced a lot in London in the past I can certainly appreciate the predicament some may have regarding housing down there, but that is for another thread I think. Anyway good luck.

 

You may find some of the build blogs on here such as this one of use

and also this recent general thread on the same subject

Only tip I can give is don't have any brilliant innovative ideas as on narrow boats they tend to bite back at some point.

Edited by reg
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On 20/04/2018 at 13:05, reg said:

That's good news I hope you can appreciate our concerns on the subject as not everyone takes the steps you appear to of wisely taken. 

definitely I appreciate!

but did anyone in this forum have to supervise a total refit of a narrow boat. Do you know company or individuals who would be up for it and who could be good for this job?

I really need recommendations. 

 

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1 hour ago, Vero F said:

definitely I appreciate!

but did anyone in this forum have to supervise a total refit of a narrow boat. Do you know company or individuals who would be up for it and who could be good for this job?

I really need recommendations. 

 

 

There are quite a few firms around specialising in fitting out from scratch of new shells, but to totally refit an existing shell will be a shedload more work than a new one. They would also need it lifting out of the water and transporting to their workshops. Stripping out the existing interior, wiring, plumbing etc will also be a major additional cost over a new shell fitout.

A towpath refit is a far more chaotic affair and I doubt there are ANY companies offering it as a service. There are quite a few boaters about who do interior fitting work but most are itinerant and it will be 'luck of the draw' stuff regarding how good or reliable they are. Working on the towpath is about the worst set of conditions imaginable for good craftsmanship. I really do think your best bet will be to buy another boat already in good condition, and sell this one to a DIYer. 

 

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Sound advice from Mike. The logistics of fitting out a boat a different to a house. SImple example is just fitting a bulk head from an 8x4 sheet your working in a confined space which contains your tools and materials you have to find space for the tools you going to use, store away your other tools, find space to measure and cut you 8x4, take the sheet out side, possibly multiple times, just to turn it around. Not so bad when boat is empty but as work progresses space becomes tighter and simple jobs get more difficult. If you intend living on it whilst the work is being done then the problems are multiplied.

Most fitters know all this and would tend to shy away from this type if project if you can find someone then you have to ask yourself why would they want thus job and are they up to it. 

The realistic options are to take it to boat fitters and leave it with them or possibly do a section of the boat at a time and spread the work over a longer period but this would take a proper project plan. 

I think maybe a line of attack is to try to find a good project planner with narrow boat experience BSC and preferably RCD experience and who has tradesman contacts, which is maybe what you are actually asking for. 

As Mike has said there a a number of people that may be willing to undertake specific jobs but may not be willing to take on the whole project. 

It can be done and has been by others. I completely fitted out my own boat whilst on hard standing and that took 16 months with very few days off. I also had the facility to call on specific expertise when required. I actually think its logistically easier to gut and refit a small house than it is to gut and refit an on the water narrow boat. 

Whatever you decide good luck with it, specific areas of help is always available here. 

Eta

Please feel free to insert your own spelling and grammar corrections in my post I'm giving android editing a win on this one

Edited by reg
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1 minute ago, reg said:

Sound advice from Mike. The logistics of fitting out a boat a different to a house. SImple example is just fitting a bulk head from an 8x4 sheet your working in a confined space which contains your tools and materials you have to find space for the tools you going to use, store away your other tools, find space to measure and cut you 8x4, take the sheet out side, possibly multiple times, just to turn it around. Not so bad when boat is empty but as work progresses space becomes tighter and simple jobs get more difficult. If you intend living on it whilst the work is being done then the problems are multiplied.

Most fitters know all this and would tend to shy away from this type if project if you can find someone then you have to ask yourself why would they want thus job and are they up to it. 

The realistic options are to take it to boat fitters and leave it with them or possibly do a section of the boat at a time and spread the work over a longer period but this would take a proper project plan. 

I think maybe a line of attack is to try to find a good project planner with narrow boat experience BSC and preferably RCD experience and who has tradesman contacts, which is maybe what you are actually asking for. 

As Mike has said there a a number of people that may be willing to undertake specific jobs but may not be willing to take on the whole project. 

It can be done and has been by others. I completely fitted out my own boat whilst on hard standing and that took 16 months with very few days off. I also had the facility to call on specific expertise when required. I actually think its logistically easier to gut and refit a small house than it is to gut and refit an on the water narrow boat. 

Whatever you decide good luck with it, specific areas of help is always available here. 

As DIY fitter-outer I whole-heartedly agree with this.

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Just one other thought

New boats are normally sold as

Shell only

Sailaway

Sail away plus

Sail away plus additions

Fully fitted

Here us one example of the price differences 

http://lmbs.co.uk/narrowboat-pricelist/

Goggle will find you others

I would suggest that it may well be cheaper to sell your existing boat and purchase a sail away plus or better rather than pay someone to gut and rebuild in situ, just a thought. However you would still have to fit kitchen, bedroom and lounge. 

At the very least it will give you some idea about the price difference between a shell and a sail away plus for trade suppliers from new. I suspect your of plan of using ad hoc tradesmen, or even an individual, at site would cost considerably more

 

 

Edited by reg

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3 hours ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

There are quite a few firms around specialising in fitting out from scratch of new shells, but to totally refit an existing shell will be a shedload more work than a new one. They would also need it lifting out of the water and transporting to their workshops. Stripping out the existing interior, wiring, plumbing etc will also be a major additional cost over a new shell fitout.

A towpath refit is a far more chaotic affair and I doubt there are ANY companies offering it as a service. There are quite a few boaters about who do interior fitting work but most are itinerant and it will be 'luck of the draw' stuff regarding how good or reliable they are. Working on the towpath is about the worst set of conditions imaginable for good craftsmanship. I really do think your best bet will be to buy another boat already in good condition, and sell this one to a DIYer. 

 

The project is not really to scrap everything. Most of the existing fit out is ok especially concerning electricity and plumbing. Given the current plan of the cabin, I also think that I can strip out most of the existing features pretty easily myself. I asked the designer of the fit out pontoon to draw a detailed plan of the new fitout with everything taken into account (electricity, plumbing, new appliances, new mushroom vents). So at least there will be a plan for the work to be done.

I am also ready to keep my rented apartment a bit longer, this way most of the work can be done while I am not actually living on the boat. So maybe it can be taken out of the water if I find someone who is willing to work full time on it. Though this would seem to be a small miracle...

So Mike maybe if you could give me the names of the firms specialized in fitting out shells, I will have a place to start my inquiries. 

2 hours ago, reg said:

The realistic options are to take it to boat fitters and leave it with them or possibly do a section of the boat at a time and spread the work over a longer period but this would take a proper project plan. 

I think maybe a line of attack is to try to find a good project planner with narrow boat experience BSC and preferably RCD experience and who has tradesman contacts, which is maybe what you are actually asking for. 

As Mike has said there a a number of people that may be willing to undertake specific jobs but may not be willing to take on the whole project. 

So reg do you think that it would be a possible option to leave the boat with boat fitters and have people work on it for a few months? Providing I have a detailed plan for the project, do you think it is realistic to ask separate tradesmen to do the work (for example, one for the bathroom, one for the electric cupboard...etc) and that I coordinate all myself?

I would actually need a project planner but it seems to be a rare kind of bird, especially in the London area.

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2 hours ago, reg said:

 

I would suggest that it may well be cheaper to sell your existing boat and purchase a sail away plus or better rather than pay someone to gut and rebuild in situ, just a thought. However you would still have to fit kitchen, bedroom and lounge. 

At the very least it will give you some idea about the price difference between a shell and a sail away plus for trade suppliers from new. I suspect your of plan of using ad hoc tradesmen, or even an individual, at site would cost considerably more

From your answer I get that basically I have bought a lined boat where all I need to change are the bathroom and kitchen appliances (make sure that the appliances fit with plumbing and electricity but most of it will be ok) and add a new wooden floor. 

Since the boat is old but very far from being a dirty shell, I think I would spend more money buying a new shell that actually trying to fix this one. But I may of course be completely wrong. I do need to remove the current bathroom and move it to the end of the boat. 

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14 minutes ago, Vero F said:

So Mike maybe if you could give me the names of the firms specialized in fitting out shells, I will have a place to start my inquiries. 

 

I'm sorry but you seem to keep moving the goalposts. In post 15 you said "a total refit of a narrow boat", but now you say most of the existing fit-out is ok. Firms that fit out new shells won't be up for fiddling about with partial refits, keeping the plumbing, electrics and some parts of the interior and replacing others is a totally different proposal.

I now think your best bet is to go to a boatyard with good facilities and get them to do the work. P&S Marine would be one possibility. http://pandsmarine.co.uk/ There are others further away though.

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29 minutes ago, Vero F said:

From your answer I get that basically I have bought a lined boat where all I need to change are the bathroom and kitchen appliances (make sure that the appliances fit with plumbing and electricity but most of it will be ok) and add a new wooden floor. 

Since the boat is old but very far from being a dirty shell, I think I would spend more money buying a new shell that actually trying to fix this one. But I may of course be completely wrong. I do need to remove the current bathroom and move it to the end of the boat. 

OK that seems a lot more doable 

Flooring

When you say remove and replace flooring do you just mean floor covering? If yes then not a real issue otherwise replacing floor itself is a big job(recent thread on this subject if needed) 

Kitchen

Moving kitchen could be awkward if gas cooker, lot of stringent rules with boat gas. Others on here better placed than me to advise on this part and recommend relevant gas qualified engineer. 

Bathroom 

If its plastic pipe work then that's easy enough. Possible problems areas would be

Through hull Skin fitting relocation whilst on water you will need to site new fitting and also seal up old skin fitting hole, preferably by welding if you can find someone to do that. 

Need to resite water pump "whale gulper"?  So wiring, physical location etc. 

Bulkheads 

Resiting of these as per my previous comments. 

Relining 

Easiest part of this is taking out existing panels and fitting new ones, hardest part is fitting decent trim. 

If broken down into a series of smaller projects then should be achievable. That way you can use professionals for specific well defined jobs e.g making and fitting trim. 

Might I suggest you start a build blog in thus forums build blog section. If you could start it of with diagram of what you currently have and a diagram of where you want to be then this might help others to assist you and perhaps identify who may be available to undertake some of the work, again just a thought. 

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1 hour ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

I'm sorry but you seem to keep moving the goalposts. In post 15 you said "a total refit of a narrow boat", but now you say most of the existing fit-out is ok. Firms that fit out new shells won't be up for fiddling about with partial refits, keeping the plumbing, electrics and some parts of the interior and replacing others is a totally different proposal.

I now think your best bet is to go to a boatyard with good facilities and get them to do the work. P&S Marine would be one possibility. http://pandsmarine.co.uk/ There are others further away though.

Actually being both French and new to the narrowboat world, my vocabulary to describe the project may not be as accurate as I would like to... But hopefully in two or three posts I can give an exact idea:)

Thanks a lot for your help and comprehension

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19 minutes ago, reg said:

Might I suggest you start a build blog in thus forums build blog section. If you could start it of with diagram of what you currently have and a diagram of where you want to be then this might help others to assist you and perhaps identify who may be available to undertake some of the work, again just a thought. 

Very good suggestion indeed! I'll post them here as well. A picture being worth a thousand words.

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