Read this to gain a better understanding of what a custom made dodger entails..
Hale Kai Dodger Project
The price is in line with the amount of work required. Oh and I would suggest not wasting your money on a pre-fab dodger. You want a custom made dodger or you most likely won't be happy. Custom made will run about 20% more but be well worth it...
Here are some questions to ask:
You want 316 thick wall! Not type 304 thin wall. All 1" or 7/8" stainless tubing is NOT the same.
You WANT a thread that will last as long as the Sunbrella. W.L. Gore's Tenara is the only thread that will do this..
Side and cockpit make sure the cockpit rail is welded on.
Strataglass or equivalent. All 30 mil and 40 mil windows are NOT created equal!
A full zip out window is a great option as you can lay it in the v-berth to prevent scratching the glass. Rolling windows up is one of the worst things you can do for dodger glass.
Your canvas guy should spend time with you ON the boat and then design the dodger to YOUR preferences. For example; do you want to look under the dodger or look over the top. When the frame is bent this data needs to be there or you'll be staring at the dodger frame when standing a the helm. Have your dodger built so you NEVER need to fold it. Folding a dodger is the single worst thing you can do for it!!
Every exposed zipper MUST be covered by a lapel! A lapel is like the fly on your pants that covers the zipper. On a dodger it prevents UV damage!
Most builders use Lift-A-Dot's or Twist Locks to attach the canvas to the deck. This can create un even pulls in the canvas and eventually, after enough hot sun, the glass. You'll want to consider a luff tape attachment system. This plastic track can be heated with a heat gun and custom bent to match the contour of your deck. The dodger has a corresponding luff tape sewn across the entire front bottom edge that is slid into the luff track.
If you have a hand rail you want support struts that attach the frame to the cockpit coaming to distribute the loads.
No grab rail or support struts:
Well done grab rail with support struts:
Use a LOCAL shop that does good work and let the price sink in for a bit..! A well designed and constructed dodger will out last a poorly built one by close to double! Loose fabric, that can flap in the wind, will DESTROY Sunbrella in short order!
A good example of a BAD (Mail Order) dodger:
An example of a good dodger (same boat):
A dodger can make or break the looks and aesthetics of your boat and IMHO it's not a place to cut corners! BTW here's a picture of that same dodger taken last summer after adding side grab rails. It was six year's old when this photo was taken..
If you feel like setting the bar really high, after reading this thread, take a look at this canvas work!
Mobile Marine Canvas Photo Gallery