Rodger Martin Design offers Design and Engineering Services for Custom Boats, Production Boats, Performance Upgrades, Structural Engineering, and Architectural / Industrial applications.


Custom Boats

Custom designs are for clients who cannot find a production boat that satisfies their needs, or who want to create something that is unique and embodies features & details that are honed by experience. This can cost more or less than a high quality production boat, depending on builder, design simplicity/complexity and builder’s location. The truth of the matter is that few, if any, production boats are, or can be, built to the same standards as a custom boat built by a builder of high reputation. Designing and building a one-off boat is a very exciting, engaging and creative and rewarding opportunity for owner and designer.

The way it usually works in our office:  We get a call from a potential Client who wants to discuss ideas for a special boat. Sometimes that client has spoken to one or two other designers, assessing which will best represent his or her interests. If we feel we are the best choice for the type of boat, this will usually become clear quickly to the Client during our discussions. We propose doing a set of Preliminary Design plans. Depending on the boat’s complexity or size, the cost is usually somewhere between $4,000.00 and $12,000.00. We use our standard Preliminary Design Agreement, which lists the drawings and services we will provide. The preliminary design really shows the whole boat in a first run-through, from Preliminary Hull Lines to Interior Layout, Sail Plan, Deck Plan, a Construction Section, Preliminary Weight Estimate, 3D Renderings, even Performance Prediction. This is all done with the input of the Client; the Client is an essential part of the process. At this point the Client can make a go-no-go decision.

If  the Client decides to go ahead to the next stage, we will make up a Bid Package to send out to potential builders for prices. The Bid Package has the Preliminary Design drawings plus a more detailed Preliminary Construction Plan and a brief specification giving major components, surface areas of hull and deck, etc. The packages should be identical and are sent to a short list (2-4) builders the Client and we think will do a good job. The Bid Package is billed on a time and materials basis, as we may have to visit builders for or with the client to get a feel for the yard, and some builders may need further information. The bidders are given a reasonable date to provide their bids, and then, once again, the Client may decide whether to continue into construction, or not. If it’s a GO, after a visit to the yard, a Builder’s Agreement is made between the Client and the builder. At this point, or even before the bids are sent out, the Client may choose to hire a construction representative to manage the project. Sometimes a builder is chosen who is near to the designer or owner’s home so that they can make regular visits while the boat is built. From first meeting to launch day generally takes about a year or eighteen months.

Design fees for the full design are done on the basis of an estimate for the whole job. This usually turns out to be between seven and nine per cent of the cost of the finished boat, built in a top yard. The reason that this is not a fixed fee is that some Clients require more time, drawings or visits than others, and some builders require more detail than others. Importantly, if during the progress of the design the Client, builder or designer comes upon a new or good idea to incorporate into the boat, then such idea should be developed. Curbing creativity is false economy when inclusion of a good idea can improve enjoyment of the boat for a few hours of extra design time.

Please give us a call, email or write if you want to discuss  the idea of a custom boat. I can assure you we will enjoy the experience as much as you will!

To the BOAT BUYER, we bring:


We feel that the boatbuilder who takes advantage of the combined skills of Rodger Martin Yacht Designs will find that he has something new and special to offer in a market which has been suffering from stagnation brought about to a large extent by the lack of innovation in the products offered.