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Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 10:30pm

Post Subject: Boat purchase

Hi I am looking to purchase a narrowboat and am going to look at one which is almost complete. Dialogue with the builder, Evolution Boats, indicates that we would have the option to make some alterations and bespoke finishes however I am unsure about, if we decided to go ahead with a purchase, what would be reasonable in terms of deposit as a show of good faith and final payments whilst safeguarding my finances. I have purchased a narrowboat before through a broker, but this was only after a couple of 'experiences' with perhaps questionable private vendors. I am aware of (but have no experience in) purchasing a bespoke boat and the basics of a British Marine Federation contract but this does not seem to apply in this situation. Can you please advise how to make a safe purchase. Many thanks


Posted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 9:17am

Post Subject: Boat purchase

Dear Andy, The safest way is to agree on a very modest deposit you can "afford" to lose (say £500) with the rest payable after completion and inspection by your surveyor upon delivery but as many firms seem to use customers' money as working capital I doubt they would agree. Reports I see indicate that allegedly BMF contracts turned out to be no such thing and the BMF were reportedly "reluctant" to act. You must understand that the BMF is a trade body representing its members' interests, not the customers. When I was in your situation in another economic downturn I bought secondhand out of a respected hire fleet. That safeguarded my money. By all means search Companies House to make sure their accounts are up to date but that only applies if they are a limited company and the fact they are makes your position weaker. Try chatting to chandlers and engine suppliers around the area about them in case you can pick up some "vibes" about late and missed payments. It would also not hurt to ask for "off forum" comments about the company on some of the canal related internet forums. You could agree to pay for the hull and work done to date (again after your surveyors inspection) with full tittle being handed to you at that time as part or the contract. Then the contract would need to specify exactly what else would be done and how much you would pay upon completion. It would be VITAL that the contract giving you good title to the part completed boat listed the serial numbers of ALL the expensive pieces of equipment that were installed. It has not been unknown in the past for one engine to be moved from boat to boat as the various customers visit. None of this should be taken as any form of comment about your stated builder because I have no knowledge of them or their financial situation. Tony Brooks

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