What to Ask a Marine Fabricator

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Researching fabricators may seem like an overwhelming task, especially if this is your first boat enclosure “shopping” experience. Knowing what to ask and how to approach various companies can be invaluable and can make the process go far more smoothly.

When it comes to fabricating a boat enclosure, one of the first thoughts on your mind is probably affordability and determining what the cost will be to you. When speaking to potential fabricators, inquire as to some of their previous jobs and what the cost per square foot came out to be. While some variation in price can be expected depending upon the detail and complexity required of the job, this can give you a good idea as to how much you can expect to spend.

No two fabricators are exactly alike. For one, some fabricators are more adept at creating enclosures for smaller vessels while others focus more on larger enclosures. Additionally, while some companies may be excellent with flexible clear materials, others may have more skill with acrylic and rigid Makrolon. Ask all fabricators you interview about what they view their strengths to be. This can help you to narrow down your list of potential applicants.

Some of the most basic questions you’ll want to ask prospective fabricators are (1) how long they have been in business, (2) how long they expect the fabrication to take (days, weeks, months?) and (3) whether they can provide references and photos of their work? Looking at recent projects they have completed will give you a better idea of the quality and look you can expect from each company.

If you’re in need of a new enclosure or you need repairs performed to your current enclosure, make sure to plan ahead. The busy season for fabricators usually begins around February, meaning that the lead time will start to get greater during this time of year. In the fall, fabricator “off season” begins. When winterizing your boat, take a look at your enclosure and see if any repairs are needed. If you’re need of a fabricator, find a company that can help you to determine your needs and to help you to get the work done before you store your boat for the season. If you wait until the beginning of the boating season, keep in mind that you’ll likely be put on a waiting list which means that your boat may not be ready when the time comes to use it.

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You’ll also want to check into the warranties each company offers on their products. It can vary greatly from shop to shop, with some offering two year warranties and some none at all. A warranty is always a good sign that a company will stand behind its work and provide you with a high-quality enclosure.

It’s also important to remember that the fabrication of the boat enclosure is only the beginning. Maintenance, repair, etc. are also an essential part of ownership and finding a shop that is able to provide you with storage, setup, polishing, window cleaning and other services is always a plus. At the very least, you’ll want to find a fabricator who will provide you with the guidance you need to care for your enclosure once it’s made and situated on your boat. In fact, many reputable shops will come to your boat and provide you with written recommendations on how to prevent damage and properly store your enclosure.