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How Much Does a Yacht Cost to Build?

The cost to build the world's largest superyachts is a closely guarded secret.

By Kim Ayling

The freedom that comes with owning your own yacht is unrivaled and, if you have the funds to do so, the joy of building your own is even better. However, with prices easily creeping up into the hundreds of millions, and even billions, we ask the all-important question: how much does a yacht cost to build?

Unsurprisingly, the total cost to build the world’s most famous yachts is a closely guarded secret, but there are a few fairly reliable estimations sailing around the industry. One standard way to work out how much a yacht will cost to build is price per gross weight. However, while this can be a helpful guide in valuing yachts, it doesn’t always correlate.

For example, it is thought that Lurssen’s 590-ft Azzam, which features a bulletproof owner’s cabin, an onboard golf practice suite and a submarine, cost in the region of $600m to build. At approximately 13,136 gross tons (GT), that would have made her around $45,676 per GT.

REV, on the other hand, which while still in construction is set to surpass Azzam as the largest yacht in the world at an impressive 602ft, is estimated to be costing around $350m to build. Her weight is thought to be around 17,440 GT, putting her at $20,069 per GT. Clearly, biggest doesn’t always mean most expensive. So what does affect the cost of a yacht build?

[See also: How Much Does it Cost to Charter a Yacht?]

REV Ocean yacht cost

REV is thought to be costing around $350m / ©REV Ocean

Custom vs pre-designed yachts

Firstly, you need to decide the kind of yacht you want: custom or pre-design. Naturally, a custom yacht build will be more expensive. But, for that extra cost, you will get full control over the design, the finish and everything in between.

A pre-designed yacht on the other hand will save you both money and time. This category of yacht is built based on an existing model, with finishing touches such as interiors, tenders and layout completed when she’s bought. Obviously, this leaves owners with a lot less freedom over their yacht, but it is considerably cheaper and can be delivered in a matter of months instead of years.

Choosing a yacht builder

The world of shipbuilding is dominated by a few key players. For a fully custom build, the likes of Lurssen, Feadship, Oceanco and Royal Huisman (among several others) rule the roost. With builders like this, you can expect to pay a higher price, but for that, you’ll receive years of experience, industry prestige, and cutting-edge technology and techniques.

The most prestigious shipyards will also inevitably have the most skilled team. The team involved in building a yacht is, to put it simply, vast. From start to finish, hundreds of pairs of hands will be involved in the process, with the key players including a yacht designer (interior and exterior), a naval architect and an engineer, as well as a huge team of skilled laborers. There will also be an owner representative working closely with the shipbuilder to ensure the project is delivered in time and to the buyer’s exacting standards.

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The cost of your yacht build will of course include the wages of each of the experienced people involved in making it, so if you want the best, expect to pay for it.

[See also: Discovering the World’s Most Exciting Superyacht Concepts]

feadship project 817 superyacht

Viva by Dutch shipyard Feadship / ©Feadship

What affects the cost of building a yacht?

Naturally, a huge variety of factors will impact the total cost of building a yacht. Size is of course one of the main considerations, but materials are another key factor that will dramatically impact cost. Aluminum, for example, is favored for being an impressively lightweight hull material but ton for ton, it is far more expensive than steel.

Onboard technology will also see the final cost creep up rapidly. Demand for smart yacht technology, for example, is continuing to grow, with more owners wanting to replicate the ease of voice control tools that they enjoy in their home, onboard their yacht.

And things that we might take for granted on land such as high-speed WiFi become more complicated – and more expensive – on the water. Kitting your yacht out with a satellite dish can set you back anywhere up to $50,000 which while doesn’t sound much in the grand scheme of a multi-million-dollar ship build, is just one of many hidden costs.

How much do yacht toys and tenders cost?

The yacht itself is just the start of the story when it comes to working out costs. On top of the build, potential owners will need to kit out their boat with all the latest toys and tenders – from submarines to helicopters – which can add a serious amount to your total.

For example, a self-drive submersible by Triton Submarines, which will allow owners to see the underwater world in a completely new way, will start at around $15m. Similarly, while you can pick up a low-grade, second-hand tender for a few thousand dollars, a top-of-the-range option will easily creep into the millions.

Ultimately, the only way to work out exactly how much a yacht will cost to build is to make a serious inquiry with a broker, who will be able to connect you with a yacht builder. From here, you can collaboratively work together to ascertain your budget and exactly how much your perfect yacht will cost.

[See also: The Most Innovative Yachts of the 21st Century]

oceanco yacht builders esquel project on water

Oceanco, who made the sleek Esquel, is one of the best yacht builders in the world / ©Oceanco

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