Build a Yacht
Do you plan to build a yacht of your own?
If yes, read this guide on new yacht construction.
We will go through stages of a superyacht new build and discuss important points that every yacht owner or owner representative needs to know when commissioning custom yacht construction.
New Yacht Construction in a nutshell
Why build a yacht? The answer to this question is slightly different for every superyacht owner. One aspect is true for all: only a fully customized superyacht which was made specifically for you will perfectly fit all of your requirements and tastes.
If you are not satisfied with serial production yachts and seek that unique superyacht to call truly yours – then building a yacht is for you.
Superyacht build is an exciting process which only a handful of people in the world are lucky to experience.
There is nothing like seeing your own superyacht coming to life, first on paper in form of superyacht designer drawings, and then for real at the superyacht shipyard.
New yacht construction is a lengthly and sophisticated process which can take several years to complete. Thus it is very important for every superyacht owner to understand ins and outs to prevent unnecessary mistakes.
We at Yachtowner.co prepared a guide through superyacht build process for you. Let’s dive right in!
Build a yacht. Where to start
Why build a yacht?
Always start your superyacht new build process with why. The better you understand yourself, the easier it will be for superyacht professionals to satisfy your needs.
Why do you want to commission new superyacht construction? What drives you? How are you going to use your boat? What are your requirements? Sit down and make a list of things you would like to see at your new superyacht. Let your dreams flow and capture them on paper.
Look at your requirements and rate them. Group all your requirements into groups: “absolute must have”, “desirable”, “nice to have”. This grading will help yacht designers and shipyard understand your priorities and focus on the right things. Add information about numbers of cabins, speed, cruising range of your yacht, maximum noise and vibrations levels, and anything else which comes to your mind.
Save photos and descriptions of other yachts you like, including finishings type and quality. They will later serve as benchmark for a superyacht designer.
Try to describe the use of your boat in 1 or 2 sentences. A “floating home for my family”, a “fast and furious party boat”, or “an expedition vessel to explore arctic regions”? Give your new luxury boat your personal twist!
Successful yacht build starts with clear communication
By the time you decide build your own yacht, you should already have tried out chartering different yachts or owned some of second hand yachts.
As with anything else, in yachting it is also better to gain maximum experience, yachting knowledge and understanding of your needs, before you start your first large project.
How can you know what you want, if you don’t know which options are available? If you are just starting out in yachting, read our article How to Buy a Yacht.
Yacht design is all about compromises. Aiming to build the fastest boat, for example, implies limiting its overall weight. It means less additional lifestyle appliances on board.
To maintain the speed, a stronger engine is required, which means more fuel storage and less inside space. There are many examples of compromises like this.
Due to its high quality and sophisticated finishings, superyacht construction is much more labour intense than construction of any other type of vessel. Executing change requests gets expensive very soon.
Also, unlike in serial production of planes or cars and due to uniqueness of your boat, the shipyard does not have possibility to fully standardize the production process. Solutions can not be tested for various hundreds of times before the building begins. The shipyard just has one shot to get things right.
The more specific and detailed your understanding of your own preferences, the clearer and faster your communication about them, the better job your superyacht designer, architect and shipyard will be able to execute.
Superyacht Build: Choose the Right Team
You are about to sign a superyacht construction contract which will tie you into working with a shipyard for the next couple of years. Make sure you choose the right people! Superyacht building team can make or break the project.
In general, you will be working with a number of different experts from the superyacht industry during the next couple of years. They will surely have deep knowledge in their specific spheres of expertise.
Surrounding yourself with experienced professionals with no conflict of interest and simultaneously educating yourself on yacht building process will make you feel confident and comfortable in such a specific setting.
Always ask questions, clarify things you might not understand. Maritime industry is full of jargon. It’s ok not to know specific terms. It is much better to ask rather than to not be able to follow a discussion.
Professionals build the yacht for you, but in the end, it is your yacht. You want to make sure that you get the boat of your dreams and have enough knowledge on how it functions.
As a future superyacht owner, you probably already have your favorite yacht designers, naval architects and superyacht brands. If not yet, then check out our Comprehensive list of 195 Superyacht Brands to discover some of the world’s best superyacht builders.
How to Build a Yacht: Design Phase
Now when you already have put your first thoughts on paper, it’s time to make first contact with a superyacht designer and/or a naval architect.
A superyacht designer is responsible for creating an attractive and practical design for your future yacht. A naval architect is typically a professional engineer in charge of construction, design and repair of yachts.
If optical appearance and interior design is your focus, yacht designer might be appropriate to hire. If instead you want to incorporate non-traditional and sophisticated technical elements into your yacht, a naval architect is the right person to contact.
Take the list of your preferences that we discussed in the beginning of this guide and visit several superyacht designers and architects. Browse through previous yacht projects in their portfolios. Make sure that he or she has enough experience in designing similar types of yachts.
Choose two or three best companies. Ask them for preliminary drawings and estimates of fees, and compare. Choose the one who suits you best.
Then visit a superyacht insurance agent and a classification society surveyor. Yacht insurance decides whether the yacht is ready to launch. Classification society is an entity which monitors that the yacht is built according to highest standards and quality.
The surveyor checks if the shipyard builds your yacht to the best quality. It is in your interest to involve these two stakeholders already in the beginning of the process, to avoid unnecessary hassle from the start. Show them the first drawings and specifications of the new yacht that you got from the designer/architect, and ask how they work and what else they need.
Clarify yacht financing. The majority of privately owned superyachts are financed by some kind of a bank loan. It is a savvy financial decision to finance your superyacht by a bank loan.
By negotiating good loan conditions, you can keep your own cash and invest it into a better performing asset classes with higher returns. There is a number of financial institutions worldwide which specialize in superyacht financing.
Think about the flag of your future superyacht. In which country will it be registered? Will it be a Red Ensign Flag? Choice of the country of registration will affect legal status of your superyacht, so choose carefully.
We cannot stress enough how a well-executed and detailed yacht design is crucial for the following yacht construction! Before starting to build a yacht, one needs to run a full check of all documents, specifications and plans. The better you prepare on this stage, the smoother the yacht building process will be.
Build a Yacht: Shipyard & Construction
The big decision alongside the choice of yacht designer and naval architect, is undoubtedly, the choice of shipyard. This is the manufacturer of your future custom superyacht. The shipyard plays an immense role and has responsibility to deliver your new yacht the way you want it.
Once the preliminary design of your yacht is ready, you can start looking for a suitable shipyard to build your yacht.
How to choose a shipyard to biuld a yacht? Which yacht brand is the best for you? Look out for the following points:
- Shipyard size
- Shipyard’s preferred size of yachts
- Years on the market
- Previous experience in building similar yachts as yours
- Delivery schedule
- Own design team
- Reviews of previous clients
- Resale value of yard’s previous yachts
- Project management skills
- Who is the project manager? Do our personalities fit well?
- Are processes in place?
- ISO standards & compliance
- Procurement department & policies in place
- Financial stability of the shipyard
- Do I have a good feeling with the shipyard?
There is quite a variety of shipyards in the world and it can become a daunting task to choose the best one for you. Send your inquiry to several shipyards, and narrow down your choice to 3-4 best ones based on their answers. Get more details and specifications from them and choose the best shipyard.
The shipyard will assign a project manager and a team to run the building of your new custom superyacht.
The project manager is an employee of the shipyard and is the key person who runs the construction of your yacht. His task is to project manage the build, to make sure everything sticks to schedule and there is no significant cost overrun, and to maintain communication with the owner’s representative.
Cooperation between project manager and owner’s representative is key in successful superyacht construction. Whereas the owner’s representative has power to act on owner’s behalf, the shipyard’s project manager is the one who runs the show on shipyard floor.
Visit the shipyard personally and talk to the general manager and the potential project manager (the latter reports to the former).
Take a look at the facilities. Try to find out how the processes at the shipyard are managed. Are proper project management procedures established? Are processes structured and responsibilities clear?
The better the organization of shipyard’s work, the more likely is your new custom yacht to be completed up to your expectations. One of the ways of finding it out is asking for previous client’s opinions. Ask the shipyard if they can share such contacts with you.
The team will prepare a project plan and a project schedule. After that the execution will start. This is a long, sophisticated but a very exciting process, when you will finally see your yacht materializing.
It is good practise to have a yacht engineer or captain who will be working on the yacht after completion to be part of the team during construction. His detailed knowledge of the new yacht will be invaluable for its daily operation after the handover.
Visit the shipyard once in a while and take photos of different stages on construction. What exciting memories to look back at!
During the yacht construction phase, you are likely to submit some changes. Some issues might arise. But don’t get demotivated, it is normal with a project of such scale.
Proper execution control mechanisms and processes will allow your team to identify potential issues at early stages, while it is still relatively easy and cheap to fix them.
Build a Yacht: Sea Trials & Closing
Finally the construction of your custom superyacht is completed. We know you can’t wait to see your beauty on water!
Launching is the day when your new yacht is put in the water for the first time. It is an exciting and very important moment, which needs to be carefully planned by the shipyard.
Now the yacht needs to be tested in action. This is a period of sea trials. For several weeks, all systems of your new yacht will be tested in operation. This is the final complete technical check of your new luxury boat. Some fixes might be done during this period.
As with a brand new car, some systems on the yacht will take longer time to be fully tested in action. Some fine tunings will surely also be done during the first and second years of your superyacht’s lifetime. It is absolutely normal.
Handover is the final stage of yacht construction project. This is when you sign the final acceptance of the yacht, probably with a list of things which still need to be fixed in the upcoming weeks.
With the handover of the yacht, also all its documentation has to be handed over to you or your team. This includes all the plans, drawings, sea trials results, manuals to all the systems and appliances on board.
Your crew has to have access to all these documents to be able to comfortably transition to the new build yacht.
Give your captain and crew some time to accommodate onboard and get accustomed to the new yacht.
Now you are finally ready to make the first voyage on your new custom superyacht, the moment you have been waiting for so long.
Build a Yacht: Contract is King
Yacht Construction Documentation
When it comes to building a yacht, paperwork matters. With such a large project, all the parties involved are interested in having everything clarified on paper before yacht construction starts.
Unclear or conflicting conditions, missing clauses, mess in communications and emails can substantially complicate building of your yacht. As well as make it much longer and more expensive.
Work with lawyers that have been working with yacht building projects before. They will advice on how to setup contracts, which paragraphs and attachments to include.
You should have the following documentation package: contract, scope of work, technical specifications, terms and conditions, regulations, contract drawings, classification rules, standards, and execution page.
Due to the nature of new yacht construction projects, roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders can overlap. Best practice is to include description of roles and responsibilities of every stakeholder in an attachment to contract, to avoid confusion.
Make sure you understand every clause in the contract personally. The language might be very specific, but knowing what you sign is absolutely crucial, even if you trust the professionals you hired.
In the end, you are the owner and end beneficiary. It is your yacht and your money, you should know what you are signing for.
Keeping all documentation saved and filed properly might be boring, but it is so important! With a project of such magnitude, paper chaos can come quite fast.
Shipyard will file documentation on their side, but your representative should also have own filing system to make sure you have all papers at hand.
Also, after the yacht construction is completed, as-built documentation shall be handed over to you.
Making changes while you build a yacht
Trust us, no matter how well you planned your new custom yacht in advance, you will want to change at least something later.
Change orders and how they will be handled in the building process are an important part to put down in the contract. Having clear rules on how change orders shall be handled and paid for will significantly ease the process. Make all your changes in writing as an attachment to the contract.
Generally, the fewer change orders you make, the better. The sooner they come during the yacht build, the better. They will also be considerably cheaper to implement.
Just think of how much will need to be redone, if you decide to make changes in hull structure once the yacht is almost finalized, interiors are finished etc.? It might be cheaper to build a second yacht…kidding, but you get our point.
Superyacht Construction: Comfort Onboard
Comfort on board of your yacht is central to enjoyment of trips and cruises! Seasickness is sadly something that many people get and it can ruin any vacation. No matter how luxurious a yacht, it is still moving in water, and at least some minimal motion will always be there.
Solution to seasickness are stabilizers. If you are sensitive to motion on water, make sure your yacht has a good stabilizer. It will make a great difference in your yachting experience.
There are many stabilizing systems of varous types on the market. Talk to your team at the design stage and later ask stabilizer manufacturer to provide a motion simulation study.
Noise & Vibration
Not so obvious aspect for new yacht owners are noise & vibration levels outside and inside your yacht. We love the speed that strong engines give – but they are loud. Engines cause noise – and so do propellers, generators, bow thrusters, hydraulics, gearbox…
Work with a good noise level specialist when constructing your yacht, to make sure that noise does not exceed your tolerance level. It is much easier and cheeper to minimize noise already during design and construction of your yacht.
Ideally, use another yacht as a reference point for setting acceptable vibration and noise levels. Test it at the dockside and during cruising. When the yacht is moving, you will hear not only the engine noise, but also sound of waves hitting the hull, wind, propellers.
Specify maximum sound levels in every cabin in the yacht building contract. Most people prefer to have at least some noise level in the cabins, not to feel too locked out of their environment. Also, getting below specific levels gets very expensive, and will probably be unnecessary.
Superyacht Build Success depends on Yacht Owner’s Involvement
Yes, as the future superyacht owner you also have an important role to play in superyacht construction. Only with your active involvement in the project, can the yacht designer and shipyard get all the important information and approvals in time and deliver great results.
Only by knowing what a perfect yacht means specifically for you, can they build this perfect yacht.
If the personal time you are willing to spend on the project is very limited, hire a knowledgeable representative.
Owner’s representative is a key stakeholder in a new yacht build, alongside shipyard’s project manager. Owner’s rep is the major contact point for all the other stakeholders. Make sure he or she has necessary experience, knowledge and power to represent you and make decisions on your behalf.
Yacht owner’s representative should be on pulse of construction schedule, cost, and current stage of the building process. Cooperation between the owner’s representative and the shipyard’s project manager is a key relationship in any superyacht new build.
In short: completing a successful superyacht build is only possible with active cooperation from the owner’s side. There are quite a number of new build projects that run into issues due to lack of owner’s participation.
New yacht construction is your biggest dream coming true, it’s fun to take active part it in!
Yacht Construction: Frequently asked questions
What does a custom yacht mean?
A custom superyacht means a yacht which is designed and build specifically to your requirements. A custom superyacht is unique. If you commission building a custom yacht, there will be no other yacht like yours in the world.
How long does it take to build a yacht?
Superyacht construction times vary depending on the size and complexity of the boat. It can take anything from 2 to 5 years to complete building of a custom superyacht.
How much does it cost to build a yacht?
New build custom made superyachts are more expensive than serial production or semi-custom yachts. Their prices can go up to several tens of millions of dollars on average. Exact price range depends on the yacht size, complexity and finishings. The largest yachts in the world cost considerably more than a hundred million dollars, reaching over a billion dollars for the most expensive ones.
Who is involved in a superyacht build?
Yacht owner, owner’s representative, superyacht designer, naval architect, shipyard (full team typically led by a project manager), lawyers, insurance agent, superyacht financing specialist, classification society surveyor, possibly superyacht broker, superyacht captain & crew, to name the main stakeholders.
What are the best superyacht manufacturers in the world?
There is quite a number of prominent shipyards with expensive experience of building superyachts in the world. The exact choice will depend on the size of yacht, your preferences, budget and taste. With superyacht manufacturers, there is no one size fits all, but there are market leaders. Browse through our Comprehensive list of 193 Superyacht Brands to choose your favorite.
Summary: Build a Yacht
In this article, we discussed new superyacht building process from the yacht owner point of view. We highlighted main points you should keep in mind to avoid common mistakes during yacht commissioning and construction.
It is beyond the scope of this article to list all the important aspects of building a yacht. Hiring an experienced superyacht consultant will significantly ease the yacht build for you.
Get the best superyacht professionals onboard, stay curios and ask questions. With every completed yacht new build you will gain your own experience and know your yachting needs better. We know some serial yacht owners who complete a new yacht build project every couple of years. It’s fun!
And last but not least: building your own superyacht is such a unique adventure, which only few people get to experience. The absolutely main thing is to enjoy it to the fullest!
Do you have questions we have not covered?
Ask us in the comments below, or contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org! We will define your needs and find the best solution together!
Article by Yachtowner.co