Copyright 2017 - Woods Designs, Foss Quay, Millbrook, Torpoint, Cornwall, PL10 1EN, UK
  • home built Flica 37

  • plywood Romany 34

  • lightweight 14ft Zeta mainhull

  • Strike 15 trimaran at speed

  • 28ft Skoota in British Columbia

  • 10ft 2 sheet ply Duo dinghy

  • 24ft Strider sailing fast

  • 36ft Mirage open deck catamaran

It is a natural question for people to ask as cost is usually the main factor in deciding what boat to build. Unfortunately it's not an easy question to answer - different people want different levels of fit-out while obviously different countries have wildly different material, labour and overhead costs. So the best I can do is make comparisons between different boats and to give an idea of costs when building in the UK.

But before I do that it's worth pointing out that building a 10m, 3T boat with 50 sq m of sail (or 33' x 6000lbs x 500 sq ft) will probably cost the same whatever designer is chosen. That's because sail and rig costs are independent of design, as are glass, resin and plywood as they are sold by weight or area. So too are cookers, anchors, lights etc etc.

You can make a similar sort of comparison with cars. The steel in a Skoda costs the same as in a Mercedes, but the latter is ten times the price of the former! And the difference in price goes into the builders pocket and into the general public perception of "I want one of those!" So, don't be misled by those who say "my boats are cheap to build". Having said that, it is certainly possible to find designs that are expensive to build. Ones that need special one-off fittings, or use exotic materials for example.

What is really important to homebuilders though, is the resale value. I know that's not at the forefront of your mind when choosing a new design, but you will want to have your work valued by others. I read recently that someone was complaining about the high price of second hand Woods Designs compared to other designers. Now that may be bad news for those trying to buy a cheap boat, but it has to be good news for the original builder.

It's been well publicised that my Gypsy cost me £5000 to build in 1995-7. But in fact that figure was for a sailing shell and was so low because I was very lucky to get a complete second hand rig for £200, about a tenth of the new price. Even so, I actually spent nearer £10,000 when things like engine, electronics, ground tackle, fridge, boom tent etc etc were included. Most UK builders reckon on spending around £12,000 for a complete Gypsy. I later sold my Gypsy for the asking price of £25,000. So that meant that I earned around £10 an hour while building it. And that's the sort of figure I would hope everyone would expect as a minimum when costing out their labour. A 10 year old wood Sagitta was recently sold for £45,000, again making it's builder about £10 an hour

So my guide for prices are as follows (in 2000): Strider etc £4-6000 (resale £8000-10,000) Wizard/Sango £6-8000 (we sold our Wizard in 1995 for £19,000) Surfsong/Windsong £8-10,000 Gypsy £12,000 (sold for £25,000) Sagitta, Mira £20000 (sold for £45,000) Flica, Meander £25,000 Nimbus £35,000

In other words, don't build one of these boats until you know you've got that much money available. But having said that, it's rare for me to actually have enough money to be able to finish a boat when I start building it. Boats always take time to build and money does slowly come in.