New Build Barging
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Why a New Build Barge? Motor or Sail? Comparisons to a Narrowboat? Live Aboard or Leisure
Where can wide beams cruise? Map of UK Broadbeam Canals Future Plans for a UK Broad Beam Network Continental Cruising
Buying a new Barge RCD Categorisation Spec Check List DIY Fit-out cost VAT Barge Building Companies Barges for Sale
DIY Fit-out Equipment Planning Solar & Wind Generators Generator Sets Useful tools for DIY fit-out Slipping / dry docking a barge
Layout plans Some new build Barge Photos Barge Moorings
Information about the (DBA) Ghent 2002 DBA Rally Photos Chatham DBA Rally 2005 Beale Park 2006 DBA Rally Bell Weir Gathering 2008 Bisham Abbey 2009
Barge Links & Further Reading
Ida 57ft Cruising Barge Si and Jacq's Wide Beam Takey Tezey Mikes 57ft Barge Build Mikes 57ft Narrowboat Style Dave and Lyns 19.6m barge Jeff & Jackies 50ft Thomas Roger & Glynwen 55ft Barge Build Ypie - 15m Euroship barge
There are a number of companies that will design a barge for you, enabling you to either fabricate it yourself, or get your favourite fabricator to build it for you. A number of designers also have ‘off the shelf’ standard design which you can buy. These are normally computer originated CAD designs, often referred to as dxf files from which the steel can be directly cut using modern high precision laser cutters. The ‘jigsaw’ pieces can then be sent directly to you or your chosen fabricator. See also CAD or tradition design section.
Some designers worth contacting include:-
Sid Jacomb. Sid-Hoo Ltd. Montpillard, 58330 Crux la Ville, France. Tel from uk 0871 781 1467 email Sid
Nick Branson. Branson Boats, Unit 4, Crowland Industrial Estate, Crease Drove
Crowland, Peterborough, PE6 0BN Tel 01733 211966.
email email Nick
If you have a CAD design and wish to do the fabrication yourself and are looking for a package of pre-cut steel (or aluminium) marked for assembly which is plasma cut, shot blasted and epoxy primed ready for welding, then contact:-
SteelKit Ltd. Aberleri Boatyard, Ynyslas, Borth, Ceredigion, Wales, SY23 5JU. Tel 01970 871713 web; www.steelkit.com email steelkit (Steelkit supplied the steel to Piper Boats for our own barge, Elessina) .
Most barge fabricators will supply a shell only, but this is not so popular amongst buyers. VAT will be charged and the shell will rust very quickly without some form of protection against the elements. A buyer will need to have a suitable location to complete the boat, preferably covered as it will be somewhat open to the elements. Included in the shell will normally be water and diesel storage tanks. The diesel and toilet water tanks are normally located under the floor. Fresh water tanks are often located at the bow, allowing easy inspection access. It is during shell construction that tank sizes have to be fixed. Around 200 gallons (1,000 litres) is a good guide for each tank, but the bigger the better.
Many companies build to a 'Sailaway' specification. A 'sailaway' is a partly completed boat, ready to be craned into the water and steered under its own power to suitable moorings ready for completion. A delivered 'sailaway' will be fully functional in that you will be able to navigate up and down rivers and canals so you can be 'underway' immediately, but the inside will be totally empty. If you think of it like a tent, and you can use it immediately.
A 'sailaway' generally comprises of:-
Steel shell, complete with deck and cabins
Working engine and steering
Windows and external doors (sufficient to make the barge watertight and secure)
Steel fluid storage tanks for; diesel, drinking water, and black (toilet) water
Single coat of primer paint.
Extras worth considering (making a sailaway-plus) are:-
Collapsible wheel house
Internal wood battens and spray foamed insulation
Large double glazed roof hatch (around 5ft x 3ft) for getting furniture on board
Bow and stern escape or 'houdini' type hatches (an alternative escape route is needed, as otherwise the only way out is through the wheelhouse, under which is the engine!)
Extra coats of paint (after our narrowboat fit-out experience we will have more than one coat of external paint supplied)
Bow thrusters tube (worth having fitted, as you can then add the bow thruster at a later date if / when required, without have the boat lifted out and the hull being cut and welded under the water line.
More powerful engine (especially if it may be used along tidal rivers)
Standby manual steering (in case of hydraulics failure)
Double glazed windows / port holes (in lieu of single glazed)
Extra storage tanks for diesel and grey water if intending to use continental canals.
Stainless Steel fluid storage tanks
Full or partial internal lining
The following cost should be used for guidance purposes only, they were obtained through 2002 from various barge fabricators, some were verbally given, some written, some were not clear whether they were inclusive or exclusive of VAT:-
60 ft steel Shell
£35,000 to £60,000
Engine (72hp to 135hp) rudder & hydraulics
£9,000 to £13,500
Spray Foam and internal wood battens
£1,500 to £2,500
Floor and Ballast
Tanks (Diesel, fresh and toilet)
£1,000 to £2,000
Exterior painted (4 prime, 2 under, 1 top)
£2,500 to £4,000
6 x Windows (gold, double glazed) & 6 x Portholes
£1,500 to £2,000
Collapsible hardwood wheelhouse
£5,000 to £8,000
Bow Thruster Tube and weed hatch
Front and Rear hardwood hatch / window
Roof Hatch (hardwood, double glazed 5ft x 3ft)
Total quoted prices (including all the work above) varied between:-
- £47,000 excl VAT for a broad beam river barge
£58,000 to 75,000 excl VAT, for a mid range replica Dutch barge
- Around £85,000 for top quality Replica Dutch Barge
Since 2002 new build barge cost have increased substantially , probably around 40%, due to VAT and increased steel cost. A top quality sailaway will now be around £120,00 (up from £85,000).
All quotes were based on RCD cat C construction (Cat D would be a little less, cat B probably around £15,000 more)
I have estimated the diy fit-out cost to be £30,000. So the total cost will be £130,000 (with a £100,000 sailaway). For a breakdown of this estimated £30,000 diy fit-out cost see; DIY Fit-out cost.
Complete barge costs are, arguably, harder to give. Like narrowboats, the price range varies considerably depending on quality of fit-out and equipment specified (you can purchase a 60ft fully fitted narrowboat from one of the largest UK builders for around £45,000, but you could easily pay over £100,000 for a live aboard standard 60ft narrowboat).
The lowest priced will be wide beam barges that have the same lines as a narrowboat, they will have open tiller steering with no wheelhouse and likely large front opening doors, build to RCD Cat 'D'. These will start from around £55,000 fully complete. At the top end of the market you could pay £300,000.
A Fully completed 60ft barge will cost between £100,000 and £250,000 depending on shell type, engine and equipment specified. But you should be able to get a decent 60ft Replica Dutch Barge for around £200,000 with a reasonable level of equipment etc.
Delivery by truck to anywhere in the UK can be arranged for a 60ft x 12'-6" wide barge (and even longer and a little wider). Delivery should be able to be arranged for around £600 (for 300 miles) and crane in should also be around £600, although the heavier barges (Delta etc) will likely cost a little more, especially for crane in if ballast is installed.
Many replica Dutch barges (including Piper, S'Holland and New Holland) are based on a Nick Branson CAD design. The author believes the CAD design concept (with precision laser cutting of steel, direct from the drawing) is the way forward (as welding was to riveted hulls some 70 years ago), and that a CAD design that optimises minimum ballast (around 1 ton, as opposed to up to around 10 ton for the same length of boat) is technically superior. But there are many differing views on this subject, between people who are vastly more experienced and qualified.
Many of the CAD type designs have a 12mm thick steel base plate as standard (with 1 ton ballast), compared to 8mm base plate (and 10 ton ballast) from some traditional builders. Many of the original (100 year old) barges were built with only 6mm base plate, but then they were of riveted construction (not welded) and there are very few people (if any) that would still recommend riveted construction over welded. Also most barges with 6mm base plates have, by now, had a re-skin (often because base plates have been worn down to 1mm thick in places).
Through CAD it is possible to get someone to design a barge for you then find a builder to fabricate it. If you have specific styling line requirements, this may be a good option to follow.
Both Sid Jacomb, Nick Branson and Andrew Wolstenholme offer a CAD design service. Email Sid or Nick or Andrew
A list of all known barge builders is included on a separate page New Build Fabricators . Most builders also build narrowboats, some will build around 1 barge per year, others up to around 6. The biggest are still relatively small companies, often employing around 20 or people, plus specialist contactors. Some of the more established popular ones include:- Delta, Piper, Sagar, JL Pinder, RW Davies and Peter Nichols..
Last updated 02 February 2012