Image credit: Justin Ratcliffe

An interesting comment was made at the Global Superyacht Forum, held in Amsterdam last November regarding the use of quantity surveyors (QS) during superyacht refits. Martin Francis, owner of Francis Design Consulting, boldly stated "there is a real scope for that profession in ours". If the possibility to save large sums of money during refit is an option, why are we not capitalising on it?

Following his experiences with land based QS during a number of refits, Francis said "I would encourage any owner to employ a land based, hard nosed quantity surveyor, to question the cost basis, and keep control of it". Whilst utilising such surveyors is the norm and usually the necessity in land based projects, the same cannot be said in yachting. Speaking to The Superyacht Owner earlier this year, Francis shared his own very successful experiences using such a QS. Although his initial experience during a refit with one was brought on at the suggestion of the owner, Francis' background in land based architecture meant he was more than on board with the idea. "When Sir Nigel Broackes (owner of Mikado at the time) suggested it to me, I said it was music to my ears as they control the costs and have a lot to teach the yachting profession."

In an industry that is rife with people claiming lack of transparency, overcharging, offering backhanders to friends and a whole host of other name calling, employing an unbiased outsider that works to a standard level of pricing would not only help to keep costs to a minimum, but eliminate many of the headaches involved with a refit. Several years later, Francis was faced with a new dilemma when completing the refit of Shenandoah in New Zealand. After making the initial assessments of work to be done, her owner wanted to scrap the whole idea and call it at a loss. However, Francis had a different idea. "I explained to the shipyard that the owner would still be interested if we could keep costs at a minimum (to ensure we weren't operating at a loss). So we employed a local QS and in the end, it turned out to be a hugely successful exercise."

So why is this not used more in the superyacht industry? Do you agree with Francis that it is because the yachting industry is quite insular? Surely as he stated, "management is management and sensible things are sensible things" - whether you're completing works on a building or a yacht, there are certain constants that don't change and can certainly be translated into the world of large yacht refits. As the industry continues to look outside itself more and more perhaps we can come to terms with such options that promise to save money and headaches, while keeping our owners happier.

Martin Francis will be speaking as part of SuperyachtDESIGN Week this year, being held from 24-26 June in London.

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