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  #21  
Old 04-30-2008
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Two ways...

There are only two ways to own a boat.

#1 Be wealthy and pay people to do stuff for you and yes you will get screwed.

#2 Be a DIY boat owner.





About the only things I contract out are Awlgrip or bottom stripping because I hate it. Everything else I do myself including engine changes and repair work.Can I afford to pay a boat yard to do my work for me? Sure, but I figure I've saved well over 200K in the last 20 years by NOT doing it that way..

Take the boat yard estimates and ALWAYS add at least 33%!
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  #22  
Old 04-30-2008
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I try to do it all myself. I'm pretty good with tools, my hands etc. I once hired out a bottom paint at a local marina. They did a suck job, loose paint still left on the boat and just pasted a new coat on top. But they didn't charge a penny more than estimated. I then had them do my power boat's bottom and the job came in at 500 bucks more becuase they had to grind out the barnacles they had not seen, fair enough.
I bring in experts that allow me to watch when I don't know how to do it. I also only use bonded, insured businesses for issues that involve safety, and I include heavy electrical wiring in that; do it wrong and the boat burns or someone gets hurt. The contractor that installed my electical add-ons last year did the job as estimated, a couple of hours late (my fault probably as I was on board watching and talking to him).

In short, I've never had a problem that I would call a problem.

I know I drip varnish, miss spots and make mistakes. I see and feel every run, drip and fish eye I lay down, even when you don't see it I know it's there.

'Professional' just means you get paid to do it, it doesn't imbue some demi-god like ability to be mistake free. It doesn't even mean the pro is more knowledgeable about the job although with a specialist it should.
I do expect a certain level of efficiency from a 'professional' simply because they do the work more often and know the tricks of the trade.

Enlightened amatuers who love to work on boats (I'm one) do a better job, or at least try to, and when it's our boat or even a friends we do the best we can. I actually have more experience helping friends grind / sand / paint etc.. on their boat than I do on mine.

Now if you'll pardon me, I've got some fish eyes to fix in my interior varnish. I forgot to clean the teak with acetone before laying a unthinned first coat
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  #23  
Old 04-30-2008
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IMHO all hired boatyard projects require adult supervision if you want them to turn out well, and it will always cost more than the estimate.
That is why I do almost everything myself, it's less frustration and it get's done right.

John
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  #24  
Old 04-30-2008
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Two things ( perhaps more) spring to mind;
$85 an hour is not a lot of money for skilled craftsmen.
If its a big job hire a project manager- and hire them at the start, not when you feel cheated.
Learn to do a lot of this work yourself- The boat is 100% your responsibility, make your self available at any time, and check on the work each night/ morning. If there are problems bring them up at that time not at the end of the project. This way you can also keep your self updated on the costs.
No yard will really care about YOUR boat the way you do, but most all of them employ honest hard working craftsmen. Learn to work with the people doing the work, treat them with respect, stay out of their way, and if you don't know/ understand what they are doing or why, ask them, yes you are paying them while they talk to you, but in the long run its worth it.
I know this does not help your situation....
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  #25  
Old 04-30-2008
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knothead has a spectacular aura about knothead has a spectacular aura about knothead has a spectacular aura about
My wife told me I am not allowed to give ball-park estimates anymore. No matter that everyone always says "I won't hold you to it", if the job come out more than the "off the top of my head" estimate, they almost always say "well Steve said it would only be this much."
I have always made it a practice to tell my customers that I encourage them to be here while we are working on their boat. That way I don't have to explain later why it took me 15 minutes to unscrew a turnbuckle that hadn't been lubed or exercised since the Clinton administration. Or why I had to remove the entire spreader and take it into the shop in order to remove the pin holding the discontinuous rigging to the tip because no one bothered to apply a little never-seize to it when the boat was commissioned.
I have heard lots of horror stories about boatyards but I can't think of too many that if the customer had been diligent about overseeing the job and clarifying things before hand and the yard had been diligent about keeping the customer informed and aware of complications that arise wouldn't have turned out a lot better.
As Larry said, we are not evil, we are not trying to take advantage of our customers. That would be stupid.
It takes a whole lot of "Atta boys" to make up for one "Aw ****". Anyone serious about being in business knows that.
A good reputation is the best advertising that a business can have and if a company forgets that they should hang it up.
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  #26  
Old 04-30-2008
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I would bet that most here are less angry, and more understanding, about going over budget than they are about the careless work. I know I am. If I am paying to have work done, I expect it to be done well--I can accept explanations about why it took more, especially if the explanation details other problems that had to be made right to continue. Hell, I'd be happy that someone cared to do it right.

The one job I had done by a yard--replacement primary fuel filter that I didn't have time for--was botched ridiculously. The work was presented as completed and fixed with an new air leak through a forced, torn fuel line, and with the bleed screw still open! And I hear too many other stories to ignore.

There are good craftsmen out there, and good yards like Hartge's, but it's hard to know which ones to go to.

When someone has a job done by a yard, and the job was done well, it should be posted here, so we can all benefit. I'll do so when I dare stick my toe in that pool again.

Tom
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  #27  
Old 04-30-2008
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I believe that the issue of overpaying for poor workmanship is not limited to boats. My advice is to only deal with the guy that actually does the work. If that means that you have to do it yourself, so be it.

If I pay top dollar to have work done by a "professional," I expect that the job should be done by a knowledgable person, in a reasonable amount of time. The cost is not THE issue, but an issue. There is also an element of trust on the part of the consumer, that the job will be done right.

I have just ended an exercise with my car (Audi) dealer, where I asked them to fix the rear window washer (a $100 part), and in the process the technician broke the rear hatch trim (an $850 part). Initially the service adviser said that they would replace the trim, and that they would call when the part was in stock. After a month, I called him to inquire, and the service adviser claimed that teh service manager told him that the technician didn't break the trim. After writing a letter to the GM of the dealership and the manufacturer, the service manager ordered and replaced A part, just not the one that the technician broke. The technician did screw the trim peice to the underlying metal, in order to patch the part that he, or another tech broke at no charge...

I have entrusted this car to this dealership for service for over 8 years. I have never quibbled over the price for work that was performed. However in this case the service department intentionally misled me, and played a "shell game" between Service Advisor, Manager and Technician. The problem that they created was actually solved by the screw, and believe that I would have accepted this fix if they were straight with me in the beginning. Now, however my trust is gone. Guess which dealership, and therefore brand of car, will NOT be getting any more business from me. I am looking for a competent individual to whom I can take my car to get serviced. I insist that I deal with the guy that actually works on my car.

I believe that the situation is even worse with a boat. The boat tends to be older, and there is more "stuff" that has been added by previous owners. If I lived in the Annapolis area, I would GLADLY pay Larry $85/hr to work on my boat (when I get one ).

Ed
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  #28  
Old 04-30-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chucklesR View Post
I try to do it all myself. I'm pretty good with tools, my hands etc. I once hired out a bottom paint at a local marina. They did a suck job, loose paint still left on the boat and just pasted a new coat on top. But they didn't charge a penny more than estimated. I then had them do my power boat's bottom and the job came in at 500 bucks more becuase they had to grind out the barnacles they had not seen, fair enough.
I bring in experts that allow me to watch when I don't know how to do it. I also only use bonded, insured businesses for issues that involve safety, and I include heavy electrical wiring in that; do it wrong and the boat burns or someone gets hurt. The contractor that installed my electical add-ons last year did the job as estimated, a couple of hours late (my fault probably as I was on board watching and talking to him).

In short, I've never had a problem that I would call a problem.

I know I drip varnish, miss spots and make mistakes. I see and feel every run, drip and fish eye I lay down, even when you don't see it I know it's there.

'Professional' just means you get paid to do it, it doesn't imbue some demi-god like ability to be mistake free. It doesn't even mean the pro is more knowledgeable about the job although with a specialist it should.
I do expect a certain level of efficiency from a 'professional' simply because they do the work more often and know the tricks of the trade.

Enlightened amatuers who love to work on boats (I'm one) do a better job, or at least try to, and when it's our boat or even a friends we do the best we can. I actually have more experience helping friends grind / sand / paint etc.. on their boat than I do on mine.

Now if you'll pardon me, I've got some fish eyes to fix in my interior varnish. I forgot to clean the teak with acetone before laying a unthinned first coat

I will never say that an owner or an enlightened amateur cannot do as good of a job as a professional, as I've seen many jobs done by owners as good as a professional could do. The main difference between an owner and a professional is, a professional has to be able to do the job fast enough to make a living at it. Among professionals there are other defining characteristic that they share besides putting out a a good job as fast as they can, and they are integrity and honesty. There is also an unwritten code of ethics among professionals, which also means that the good guys know who the other good guys are...Pros do not generally associate with hacks. A professional should also be as knowledgeable or more knowledgeable than the people that hire him, mainly because he has dealt with these situations many more times than the owner, and he is genuinely interested in solving the problem. Pros talk to their peers if they have a problem that is stumping them (which is usually not often), and exchange bits of information that they learn or know about. I'm talking about the real professionals, not the unskilled workers workers that unfortunately there are more of. Professionals also tend to be specialist in the work that they gravitate to, so it's important to pick the right person for the job at hand. Just like in construction contracting, I'm sure a yard tries to put together the best team of professionals they can...but pros are hard to come by. With parents pushing all of their kids to go into college (even though the kid may not be college material), and the high schools and colleges not offering good shop classes, the trades are not replenishing their work force as fast as the demand for these types of workers. So what are you left with, lots of unskilled labor, and not enough mentors to go around.
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  #29  
Old 04-30-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RhosynMor View Post
Two things ( perhaps more) spring to mind;
$85 an hour is not a lot of money for skilled craftsmen.
If its a big job hire a project manager- and hire them at the start, not when you feel cheated.
Learn to do a lot of this work yourself- The boat is 100% your responsibility, make your self available at any time, and check on the work each night/ morning. If there are problems bring them up at that time not at the end of the project. This way you can also keep your self updated on the costs.
No yard will really care about YOUR boat the way you do, but most all of them employ honest hard working craftsmen. Learn to work with the people doing the work, treat them with respect, stay out of their way, and if you don't know/ understand what they are doing or why, ask them, yes you are paying them while they talk to you, but in the long run its worth it.
I know this does not help your situation....
Well said RhosynMor.
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  #30  
Old 04-30-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knothead View Post
My wife told me I am not allowed to give ball-park estimates anymore. No matter that everyone always says "I won't hold you to it", if the job come out more than the "off the top of my head" estimate, they almost always say "well Steve said it would only be this much."
I have always made it a practice to tell my customers that I encourage them to be here while we are working on their boat. That way I don't have to explain later why it took me 15 minutes to unscrew a turnbuckle that hadn't been lubed or exercised since the Clinton administration. Or why I had to remove the entire spreader and take it into the shop in order to remove the pin holding the discontinuous rigging to the tip because no one bothered to apply a little never-seize to it when the boat was commissioned.
I have heard lots of horror stories about boatyards but I can't think of too many that if the customer had been diligent about overseeing the job and clarifying things before hand and the yard had been diligent about keeping the customer informed and aware of complications that arise wouldn't have turned out a lot better.
As Larry said, we are not evil, we are not trying to take advantage of our customers. That would be stupid.
It takes a whole lot of "Atta boys" to make up for one "Aw ****". Anyone serious about being in business knows that.
A good reputation is the best advertising that a business can have and if a company forgets that they should hang it up.
Also well said knothead!

I learned along time ago to never give a quote or an estimate on the spot (listen to your wife), because if I'm going to make a mistake, it's going to be then. When I look at a job, I'm going there first to meet the client, and second to see what the problem is. I then go back to the office to think about what I saw and talked about, think about what material I'll need to do the job, and how long it's going to take to do the job. Then and only then, can I know how much it's going to cost, to do the kind of job I'll be expected to do. When I'm asked for an on the spot estimate, I tell them I don't know yet because I have to figure it our first. If the become insistent for a price, then I ask them "How much money do you have?" ...that usually shuts them up!

And isn't that the truth about "Atta boys" and "Aw ****"! You can do hundreds of good jobs, and one not so good, and that one not so good will kill you. ...reputation is everything.
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