How Much Does It Cost to Build a Sailboat?

Written by Desiree Vilar in Sailing Cost

If you're on a tight budget, there are ways to build a sailboat affordably and still end up with a seaworthy boat. You can choose to start completely from scratch or consider using a self-build kit. If you want to hop on a sailboat project, let me help you break down the costs of building one.

The average price range for building a sailboat from scratch is between $10,000 and $20,000. A self-build kit for a 17' sailboat can be purchased for $2,500, while a sail-away Puur 17 kit can cost between $14,000 and $18,000. Meanwhile, building a 21ft gaff-rigged cutter can cost between $33,000 and $35,000.

If you're building dinghies, you can expect to spend anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000, depending on the size and materials used. Let's look at the estimated costs of building other types of sailboats and what factors can affect these costs.

Summary

  • If you are on a tight budget, you can try starting to build a basic dinghy, which only costs around $1,500.
  • If you're building a smaller boat, try to use less expensive materials, such as plywood or fiberglass, to keep costs down.
  • You can save a significant amount of money on labor costs—around $10,000 if you do all the building yourself.
  • A plan includes information on the materials needed for construction, as well as step-by-step instructions for assembling the boat.
  • A catamaran with a more complex design or more advanced features costs around $50,000–$500,000 to build.

On this page:

  1. Breakdown of Costs In Building a Sailboat
  2. Average Cost of Building Different Types of Sailboats
  3. How To Build a Sailboat on a Budget

Breakdown of Costs In Building a Sailboat

The average price range for building a sailboat from scratch is between $10,000 and $20,000, but this can be much higher if you want to build an extremely high-quality craft or if you live in an area that is especially expensive.

Below is a table showing the estimated range of costs when building a sailboat:

Expenses Low Estimate High Estimate
Materials $3,000 $10,000
Labor $0 (DIY) $10,000
Equipment $500 $5,000
Plans $200 $2,000
Miscellaneous expenses $500 $3,000
Total $4,200 $30,000

Consider the materials you will use and the amount you need

Some common materials used in sailboat construction include fiberglass, wood, aluminum, and steel. The estimated cost of each material is as follows:

Material Estimated Cost (per square foot)
Fiberglass $5 - $15
Wood $2 - $10
Aluminum $10 - $20
Steel $8 - $15

If you plan to build an aluminum sailboat, you might want to check out its pros and cons.

Factor in the costs of equipment

Building a sailboat requires a variety of specialized tools and equipment, such as saws, sanders, drills, and clamps. In addition to these basic tools, there are also more specialized pieces of equipment that may be necessary, such as a planer, a router, and a jointer. The table below shows how much each of these equipment costs:

Equipment Estimated Cost
Hand saw $20 - $50
Power saw $100 - $500
Belt sander $50 - $200
Random orbital sander $50 - $200
Drill $50 - $200
Clamps $10 - $50 each
Planer $500 - $1,000
Router $100 - $500
Jointer $500 - $1,000

Take into account the costs of labor

If you have the skills and experience to build the boat yourself, you can save a significant amount of money on labor costs. However, building a sailboat is a time-consuming process, and you should factor in the value of your time when calculating the overall cost of the project.

If you hire a professional boat builder, the cost of labor can be quite high, based on the complexity of the boat and the builder's experience and expertise. Although hiring a professional builder can be more expensive, it can ensure that the boat is built to high standards and is seaworthy.

Budget for purchasing a plan

If you are building a sailboat from plans, you will need to purchase the plans themselves. A plan refers to a set of detailed instructions and diagrams for building a specific sailboat design. It includes information on the materials needed for construction, as well as step-by-step instructions for assembling the boat.

Plans for a smaller, simpler sailboat may cost a few hundred dollars, while plans for a larger, more complex sailboat may cost several thousand dollars. The plan also includes the estimated timeline for completing the boat construction process. Building a sailing yacht can take at least 10 - 24 months to complete.

Carefully evaluate different sailboat plans before making a purchase to ensure that they are suitable for your needs and skill level. You may also want to consult with a professional boat builder or designer to help you choose the right plans and provide guidance during the construction process.

Account for miscellaneous expenses

There are a variety of other expenses which can add up quickly and should be factored into the overall cost of the project, such as the following:

Miscellaneous Expense Estimated Cost
Permits $100-$500
Insurance $500-$2,000
Transportation $500-$2,000
Miscellaneous materials $500-$1,000
  • Permits: Depending on the location where the sailboat is being built, there may be permits required for construction.
  • Insurance: Sailboats are valuable assets and require insurance coverage to protect against damage, loss, or theft. Insurance premiums can be a significant expense, especially for larger sailboats. Read this article to see the current costs of sailboat insurance.
  • Transportation: If the sailboat is being constructed in a location that is far from the water, transportation costs may be incurred to move the boat to the water. This can include fees for a trailer, a truck, or a professional boat transport company.
  • Miscellaneous Materials: There may be other materials required for the project that are not included in the initial cost estimate, such as hardware such as screws, bolts, and fittings, which may need to be purchased separately.

Average Cost of Building Different Types of Sailboats

Sailboats come in various types, each designed with different features and purposes. The type of sailboat you choose will affect the cost of building it. Here are some common types of sailboats and their average costs:

Type of Sailboat Length Capacity Estimated Cost Range
Dinghies <20 ft 1-2 people $1,500-$10,000
Daysailers 20-30 ft Up to 6 people $10,000-$30,000
Cruisers 30-50 ft Up to 10 people $30,000-$100,000
Racing sailboats 20-30 ft 1-2 people $20,000-$50,000
Catamarans 30-50 ft Up to 10 people $50,000-$500,000
Trimarans 30-50 ft Up to 10 people $50,000-$500,000

The cost of building a dinghy

Dinghies are small sailboats that are typically used for racing or leisure sailing. They are usually less than 20 feet long and are designed to be sailed by one or two people.

For a basic dinghy, the cost can be as low as $1,500. This would typically involve using plywood or fiberglass for the hull, and basic rigging and hardware. However, for a more high-end dinghy, the cost can be as much as $10,000 or more. This would typically involve using high-quality materials such as carbon fiber or Kevlar for the hull, and more advanced rigging and hardware.

The cost of building a daysailer

Daysailers are slightly larger than dinghies and are designed for sailors who want to enjoy a day on the water without the expense and maintenance of a larger boat. Daysailers come in a variety of designs, from traditional wooden boats to modern fiberglass models. Some popular brands of daysailers include the J/Boat, the Laser, and the Sunfish.

These types of sailboats can accommodate up to six people and are usually between 20 and 30 feet long. A basic daysailer can be built for as little as $10,000, while a more luxurious model can cost upwards of $30,000. The most common materials used for building daysailers are wood, fiberglass, and aluminum.

The cost of building a cruiser

Cruisers are larger sailboats that are designed for long-distance sailing. The best-size cruiser usually ranges from 30 - 40 feet long.

Building a cruiser can cost between $30,000 and $100,000. Some cruisers may have additional amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping quarters, which can increase the overall cost.

The cost of building a racing sailboat

Racing sailboats are designed for speed and agility. They are usually between 20 and 30 feet long and are built with lightweight materials.

Building a racing sailboat can cost between $20,000 and $50,000, depending on the size and materials used. Since these sailboats are designed to be as lightweight as possible, it means that high-performance materials such as carbon fiber may be used, which can increase the overall cost.

The cost of building a catamaran

Catamarans are sailboats with two hulls. They are designed for stability and speed and are usually between 30 and 50 feet long, but the perfect size for sailing is around 37037 feet. Building a catamaran can cost between $50,000 and $500,000.

The larger the catamaran, the more expensive it will be to build. The materials used in the construction of the catamaran can also impact the cost, so if a catamaran is made of fiberglass, it will be less expensive than one made of carbon fiber. A catamaran with a more complex design or more advanced features will generally cost more to build.

The cost of building a trimaran

Trimarans are sailboats with three hulls, which are usually between 30 and 50 feet long. The cost of building a trimaran ranges between $50,000 and $500,000.

Since trimarans are generally larger and more complex than monohull boats, they require more materials and labor to build. Additionally, trimarans often require specialized equipment and expertise to construct, which can drive up the cost of the project.

Trimarans are also often built using high-quality materials like carbon fiber, Kevlar, and other advanced composites, which can be quite expensive. These materials are chosen for their strength, durability, and lightweight, which are all important factors for a high-performance sailing vessel.

How To Build a Sailboat on a Budget

Below are some tips to help you build a seaworthy sailboat without breaking the bank:

  • Consider a self-build kit: If you're handy with tools and have some building experience, you might want to consider a self-build sailboat kit. These kits come with everything you need to build a sailboat, including plans, materials, and hardware. Self-build kits can be a cost-effective way to build a sailboat, with prices ranging from $2,500 for a 17' sailboat kit to $14,000 to $18,000 for a Puur 17 kit, whichever you'd like to choose.

  • Choose your materials wisely: You don't want to skimp on quality, but you also don't want to overspend on expensive materials. With this, perhaps consider using plywood instead of solid wood for the hull, as it's more affordable and easier to work with. You can also look for deals on used materials, such as sails, rigging, and hardware, to save money.

  • Keep it simple: The more complex the design, the more expensive it will be to build. A simple design with a basic rig can be just as seaworthy as a more complex design, and it will be easier and cheaper to build.

  • Do it yourself: If you have the skills and experience, try doing as much of the work yourself as possible. This can include everything from building the hull to installing the rigging and hardware. Doing the work yourself can save you a lot of money on labor costs, and it can be a rewarding experience to build your own sailboat from scratch.


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