Many owners dream of giving their yacht a facelift, but not all are aware of the costs, timescale, and knock-on implications of their ambitions. Daan Balk, CEO of Balk Shipyard, and Fortunato Di Marco, sales manager of Lusben, tell Charlotte Hogarth-Jones what goes into four of the most common refit requests — and what you need to know if you want to get serious.
Installing a spa pool
COST: €50,000 to €150,000
When it comes to installing a hot tub, many owners are lured by a seemingly straightforward, off-the-shelf option. But, explains Balk, if you haven’t thought about access properly, “the whole thing will be torn apart so that we can position filters and pumps in different positions. The same hot tub can cost you twice as much.”
A detailed spec is crucial when looking into installation — what regulations your yacht has to comply with is a major factor, and “the availability of power in relation to how quickly water can be heated up is key too,” Di Marco says. What deck you choose to have your spa pool on is also important. “Most people like to have it on the highest deck, in the sun, but from a naval architecture point of view, that’s the most difficult point because it’s directly related to the stability of the yacht,” Balk notes. He recommends building a tub that fits in with the power and water systems you already have on board — and don’t forget, even though space is at a premium, you’ll still need to get access to maintain it.
Installing an LED lighting system
COST: €150,000 to €500,000
Swapping harsh halogen lights for warmer, more subtle LEDs is a relatively simple way to update your yacht. Costs vary hugely depending on whether you’re copying your original lighting plan and placing lights in the same position — in which case “you could do that quite easily in a couple of weeks,” Balk says — or if you’re planning on redesigning your whole system, which owners often want to do. The age of the boat has a bearing on rewiring, Di Marco notes, and costs will change depending on whether you go for simple LEDs, RGB, or RGB white systems.
LEDs are a wise investment, in Balk’s opinion, because they’ll save on electric power consumption too. “Normally a light produces 80 percent heat and only 20 percent light, but LEDs are completely different,” he says. Unlike some projects, owners have the choice of whether to keep changes to the lighting minimal, and therefore keep the costs down, or to run with a more extensive overhaul. Either way, it’s a savvy investment.
Repainting a hull
COST: €300,000 to €1m
A new paint job might seem straightforward enough, but owners are often surprised by how quickly costs can escalate. “Painting is 70 percent preparation — fairing, sanding, and treating corrosion — but it’s absolutely worth doing a proper job,” Balk says. “If you take care with all that, your paint will last much longer.”
And don’t forget that before any painting can happen, “you have to take off all the hardware, stainless-steel railings, hand grips, grids and doors, and the caulking will need to be cut away and window seals removed,” Balk says. “There are some cases of ‘scratch and shoot’ but in general there’s a lot of additional work that people don’t realize — plus the cost of having the boat in a shed with heating, lighting, and extractors.”
Replacing built-in furniture with free-standing
COST: €50,000 to €250,000
Swapping out built-in, dark, carved wooden furniture for free-standing items in lighter woods is one of the most popular refit trends today. “It’s something you can do on a reasonable budget to make a magnificent difference,” Balk says. Free-standing items are also easier to replace in the future, giving you more flexibility to refresh your boat on a regular basis. “The process can be complicated by the fact that some fixed furniture is used to cover cables, piping, and fan coils,” Di Marco adds.
But “it’s something that makes people feel they get value for money,” adds Balk. “You can come on board and think, wow, this is a totally different ship!”
All costs are estimates, based on a 60-meter yacht in fairly good condition.