Once a client has settled on the best yard to deliver their dream yacht, the creation of a detailed and robust specification is an absolute necessity in order to ensure that the final product resembles the original vision. The reason for this is that a strong specification for the project provides the codification of yacht construction’s three golden pillars: budget, quality and time. A vague or woolly specification can leave any of these pillars in a fragile position. 

Gregory Marshall, CEO of Gregory C. Marshall Naval Architect Ltd, asserts that the best money that will ever be spent on a new-build project is on a well-developed specification prepared by a knowledgeable and experienced writer. “It will save you money in the build and will save you money year after year in maintenance,” he advises. “As the saying goes, ‘The devil is in the details’, and an experienced specifications writer who understands the details is worth their weight in gold.”

So, how is a detailed specification created? As Terry Allen, consultant surveyor, advises, it starts with a work list, which may involve necessities for class or flag state, and then there is the wish list. “In most cases, the work requirement for class or flag is quite self-explanatory. There are, of course, certain idiosyncrasies with each vessel, and these must be made clear in the beginning,” explains Allen.

“Where most project budgets get blown apart is the wish list. This is seldom given the attention to detail that is required. All elements must be considered...”

“Where most project budgets get blown apart is the wish list. This is seldom given the attention to detail that is required. All elements must be considered. Of course, most ignorant people would call this the unforeseen... ‘Oh when we did this, we found that’. When this happens, quite simply it’s because the idea was not thought through, not investigated thoroughly and there was no consideration for the effect of the modification on other elements. This is most commonly known as the ‘knock-on effect’.”

While some owners may choose to go through a competitive bid process, seeking offers from a number of suitably qualified yards, others may already know at which yard they wish to build their next yacht and start a process with that shipyard based on a relatively simple set of requirements and/or outline design. “In either case, the final build specification should be controlled by the contracting shipyard with scrutiny by the owner’s team to ensure the requirements of the owner’s specification (be that a build spec or more simple requirements), both functional and prescriptive, are met and embedded,” adds James Roy, managing director, Lateral Naval Architects.

“Developing a highly prescriptive specification as part of a bid process is invariably wasted time and effort. The best solution is to keep any bid or owner’s specification as light as possible by consciously balancing prescriptive requirements with functional requirements. Invariably, the more parties who play a role in developing the specification will tend to add greater levels of prescriptive requirements.”

Within the recently-published The Superyacht Buyer Report, the chapter entitled ‘What makes a great spec’ provides detailed accounts from some the market’s foremost advisors on how to perfect this part of the customer journey. If you wish to read more from Allen, Marshall and Roy, click here to download your complimentary version of the chapter.

Image courtesy of Lateral Naval Architects.

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Gregory C. Marshall Naval Architect Ltd

Lateral Naval Architects


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