Expert advice on planning and executing a smart refit can help you create a near-perfect boat (for now).

Refits traditionally fall into two categories.

The first features owners who love their yachts and just want to refresh the interiors and/or upgrade the systems to modern standards.

The second consists of those buyers who find they can acquire a used boat and refurbish it for considerably less than buying a new boat.

More recently, there is a third group, made up of folks who would like to buy a new boat, but have decided to upgrade their existing boat so it will serve them for a few years until their finances recover from the economic crunch.

No matter your category, refitting a yacht can prove to be a minefield for the unwary. Proceed with all due caution.

We’ll tell you the one thing that can be the absolute downfall of any refit project it’s what we call the ‘Might-As-Wells.’ The as-long-as-we’re-doing-this-we-might-as-well-do-that.

We’ll give you the perfect example, speaking of an owner who just wanted a new headliner in the saloon. While looking at the project, though, he said those dreaded words, “We might as well change out the lighting, too.”

But many older boats, have 32-volt wiring, which not only meant all new lights but all new wiring had to be pulled, other systems were affected, new electrical panels added, and the cost skyrocketed. For just that one “Might As Well,” there was a cascading effect on time, money, and effort.

Every refit client has two lists: one is what he can afford, and the other is what he secretly wants. It doesn’t take much for him to move onto the second list. But it’s something we have to continually warn owners against!

First is planning and second is setting a realistic budget. Third is assembling an experienced and quality team, fourth is having regular meetings and updates to keep everyone current, and last is carefully controlling all changes that affect the budget or the schedule.

We has seen the refit world change. In the ’80s, you could gut a boat and rebuild it with new engines and systems for half the price of a new boat, but the economic realities have changed.

While the cost of labor and equipment for a refit has remained relatively the same, the cost of used boats has fallen.

The interesting thing is that a number of our refits are intended as ‘hold-overs’ for owners who are on the cusp of buying another boat but just can’t swing it right now. But then, with the refit, they fall back in love with their boat. It’s great!

Our clients don’t want ‘cookie-cutter’ boats, they want to update their boat, they like the quality, but they don’t want what everyone else has.

Don’t focus on cost alone. Sometimes a 5% increase in cost at another yard will result in a 25% improvement in your project.

An important facet of a refit is keeping everybody on the same page. We like having weekly onboard updates between the owner, and the various contractors. That way we all know exactly where we stand. We can mentions a situation where new overhead panels were being installed, but one contractor fell behind on electrical work behind those panels. Because everyone knew about the problem, other projects could be rescheduled to minimize lost time.

Careful planning can keep costs down and still produce a “new boat”.

When buying a used boat, get a full survey by a reputable marine surveyor, preferably one recommended by your insurance company.

So there you have the essence of good refits, as seen by the experts. Plan it carefully, establish a realistic budget, and don’t be lured by all the opportunities that present themselves along the way.

As one of our experts noted, you’ll fall in love with your boat all over again!