|Not Just a Sketch on a Napkin|
2: The Bid Package...
By Tim Clark — May 2002
If the client likes what he sees, the designer's next step is to prepare a bid package to submit to a number of yards for prices. "This includes a set of preliminary hull lines, some construction cross-sections, and most importantly, a complete, detailed set of specifications," says Fexas. The specs, which catalog hundreds of items from engines to anchor rodes and include requirements for the calibration and testing of all significant structural, mechanical, and electrical systems, are indispensable to a builder seeking to form an accurate bid.
It is at this stage that the designer's role significantly expands beyond the borders of the blueprint. "Now I have to figure out which yards are appropriate for this specific design based on the materials, the size of the boat, and the nature of the boat," says Gerr. Both he and Fexas say they usually submit a bid package to four or five builders. They openly favor yards they've successfully worked with before and only consider yards that come highly recommended and with strong track records. Gerr has a bias for midsize builders that employ from around 25 to 80 people--unless it's a very big project--because he values the personal relationships that develop more easily at smaller companies. He also prefers a builder who does all the work in-house, since he feels things go better when you know where the buck stops. Fexas recommends avoiding yards without experience building the type of yacht proposed, and he considers verifying the yard's solvency paramount. (For Fexas' specific views on the type of builders to avoid, see his Spectator columns in the February and March issues of PMY. )
Once the bids come in--ideally within six weeks or so--the principled designer continues to counsel his client. Bids can vary widely, and you don't just jump at the lowest. "Generally we know what a boat should cost," says Fexas, "and we can recognize a low-ball price and its potential for trouble." But even when the bids are relatively close, there is still the need for consideration. "Our job is to help the client understand the pros and cons of the various bids and various yards--price versus value, for example, or matters concerning the yard's financial state--and help resolve it," says Gerr.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.