Working With Us

We often forget that arranging for yacht design services may not seem as simple to potential clients as it seems to us. All of our agreements with clients are carefully detailed to suit their individual goals, so these agreements typically have any ingredient ‘boilerplate’ hammered into very different shapes. We welcome your inquiries, and hope that the following general guidelines may be helpful:

Preliminary designs

A new boat project often seems to be a ‘chicken and egg’ conundrum; clients find it hard commit to the design until they have a reliable estimate of the construction cost, but it is hard for candidate builders to estimate costs without some design information to work from. To get over this hump, we have often agreed to prepare preliminary drawings and specifications for a small fraction what the full design fee might be. The drawings are developed to scale in CAD, but may include just a sailplan and interior layout, a small subset of a complete drawing list. The specifications of necessity include a number of assumptions and estimates, but they at least give a builder a place to start, and a useful basis for discussion among all parties.

If the drawings, specifications and cost estimates represented by this first trip around the design loop are attractive enough to the client so that he chooses to commission a complete design, the cost of the preliminary work can be deducted from the total fee, since this initial study represents work that would have to be done in any case.

If, on the other hand, the client chooses not to go ahead with the project, he has learned a lot and he takes away design information that he is free to use for future consideration and comparison, although not for construction. In addition, our basic design costs for the preliminary work are covered, so both parties can gain from the association.

Design Agreements

Our agreement for a one-off custom design is typically a simple one page document that lists the services to be performed by the designer for the client, the compensation to be paid by the client to the designer, and the conditions under which both take place. This agreement usually has three exhibits attached; a preliminary drawing that describes the design concept, a list of the drawings to be provided, and preliminary specifications. This straightforward approach has served both parties well.

Tooling up a new ‘production boat’ is an enormously costly proposition, and these costs cannot be fully amortized unless the new model is a success. In recognition of this, our agreements with our production boat clients share the risks as well as any rewards. We agree to a modest up front fee that covers our basic design and support costs, and to an appropriate ‘per boat’ royalty that can represent a profit if and when a target number of boats are sold. This approach assures continued commitment to and involvement in the project by both designer and builder, to the mutual long term benefit of both.


In addition to complete design packages, we routinely provide a full range of related design services, including performance optimizations, alterations, and other consultation. We charge for this work on a per hour basis, (plus any unusual expenses), and we can offer up-front estimates of these costs on request.

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