do it yourself?
Although the task may seem daunting initially, anyone who is reasonably
skilled in DIY can at least fit out the interior of their barge. There
is little diffrence between the woodworking skills required in the home,
and those needed on a barge. Remember though, you will not find "Flat
Pack" canal boat interiors, and so you will need to complete nearly
all of the work yourself.
There are areas of the building in which you will need particular skills,
and in these cases it is recommended that you do rely on specialist Tradesmen
or surveyer to at least inspect the finished work, if not conduct it for
you. Gas, Water and Electricity, as well as the marine Diesel engine will
all require professional help to install. In the case of the Gas fitting,
it must be carried out or inspected by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
The building of the hull is probably the most extensive task, so unless
you have the time and welding and plating skills required by such a job,
we recommend you contact a company who can supply you with a finished
hull to work from.
How long do you want/need it to be?
Assuming you are designing a Narrow beam boat (which will be
able to cruise the majority of Britains inland waterways) you are limited
to a Width of 6'10", so the only real question when deciding the
size is how long?
An Approximate range for the length of narrowboats is between 20 and 70
feet, as this is the maximum length which can be accomodated by the locks
and other canal machinary you will encounter. An approximate length for
canal boats these days is around 50 feet, but you should take in to account
all of your needs before choosing a hull length.
longer the boat, the more space and "home comforts" you will
be able to accomodate, but the cost will increase conciderably. Proffessional
boat builders charge by the foot, so adding a few feet for an office or
utility room can run to several thousand pounds.
One thing you must remember to take into acount when deciding
your length is the dividing walls between cabins. if each bulkhead is
around one inch thick, then over the length of the boat this can add up
to 6 or 7 inches, which you will not easily be able to recover by reducing
How long is it going to take?
This is one of the more often overlooked points, but one of the most important.
Looking at the interior of a narrowboat, many people have often assumed
there to be only a few weeks worth of work to do a full fit out, and then
been suprised to find several thousand man hours of work to be required.
Professionals often quote between 650 and 1050 hours to complete a fit
out of a shell, whereas a skilled amateur will require around half this
time again. Someone with limited experiance could need twice this, adding
up to around 2100 hours worth of hard work! thats around 2 years working
evenings and one weekend per week!
How much is it going to cost?
Yet another vital question that must be answered before you start
your project. Builders will often quote a price per foot, varying between
£700 and £1300 inclusive of VAT. This means a 50 foot boat
will cost somewhere in the region of between 35 and 65 thousand pounds.
This large variation
is caused by several factors that should be expected - The quality of
materials, Time invested in the project, Amount and sophistication of
the equipment fitted on board. Although helpfull, the "price per
foot" measure is not always helpfull, as certain costs will be the
same whatever the length, such as the engine, heating, Galley and bathroom