5 Tips for a Successful Yacht Interior Refit by Fort Lauderdale Yacht Interior Designer

Fort Lauderdale yacht interior designer Karen Lynn Poulos, shares her top recommendations for making the best of your next luxury yacht refit project.


Karen Lynn Interior Design Yacht Xilonen 3 - Karen Lynn Interiors - Interior Design for Yacht, Aircrafts and Residential Projects

Assembling a team of professionals that you can trust and that you have an excellent relationship with is paramount to the success of any yacht interior refit project.”

  1. ASSEMBLE A TEAM: I have been fortunate enough over many years designing yachts and project managing refits to have assembled a wonderful team of tradespeople that specialize in yacht interiors and yacht refits in the areas of yacht carpentry, yacht refinishing, yacht flooring and carpeting, lightweight and speciality yacht stone and custom yacht furnishings, upholstery and window treatments. I can depend on them for anything and they guarantee their work for my clients which is an added bonus. We have a long term working relationship and I have made agreements with my teams and each vendor, provider and company involved to ensure rules and guidelines for my projects are followed, such as my approval process for change orders, insurance, payments, and timelines. I can trust them and they can trust me and together we perform well for my yacht refit clients. I recommend anyone wanting to do a refit on their yacht to assemble a team you can trust and that will go that extra mile for you. 

  2. SET A BUDGET AND STICK TO IT: One of the most important and first things I ask my yacht interior refit clients is “what is their budget?”. This is probably the single most important question since it tells me a lot about the type of materials we can use and what we’ll be able do in the yacht’s interior. I work on all my yacht interior refits with a fixed target budget set forth by the client from the start of the project. I work with all my vendors on fixed estimates only so there are no open time and material bids from my team. I have worked this way for the past 18 years on my yacht interior refits and find it successful. I think time and material bids are dangerous, are open ended and can be detrimental financially to the client, they have led to many yacht refit failures and should never be used. If there is a fixed budget and fixed bids, things are under control. If there is a change in the work being performed or a change order, I require the trade person to provide a fixed estimate first and I get it approved by my client before it’s executed so that extra cost is added to the budget only with the client’s full knowledge and approval. We see many yacht refits in industry that get started however they never get finished because 1. there was never a budget set 2. the project was bid out on time and materials which is a set up for failure as costs quickly spiral out of control.

  3. DEFINE A SCOPE OF WORK FOR THE YACHT INTERIOR REFIT: It is imperative to the yacht interior refit that there is a written scope of work which is very detailed and clearly defined for each trade and what jobs they are performing. Once you have the very detailed scope of work, this makes it very easy to get the fixed estimates from each of the trades as described above for the purpose of setting a budget. It also provides the details needed for the yacht owner on what exactly he is paying for and what’s being done onboard.

  4. ESTABLISH A TIMELINE: When doing a yacht interior refit, I like to write a weekly production schedule with the target completion date in mind for the yacht’s interior refit. This helps to project the weekly items that need to be performed and also it is helpful to send this to the Client who is usually not in town so he can be informed as to what’s happening onboard his boat. It also is important for the designer, owner, and captain to have realistic expectations and an updated timeline for the amount of work being performed and understand the lead times of materials and designer items. Timelines may need to be adjusted if there are delays on getting payments from clients or the designer is unable to purchase materials for installations. Timelines can also be delayed if client questions go unanswered for too long, so it is very important that all parties are working together towards the completion date!

  5. HAVE OPEN COMMUNICATION WITH THE CLIENT: Having a good line of communication with the Client and getting the approvals and payments needed on time is a very essential aspect to a yacht interior refit. Without open communication with the Client and timely payments, there can be severe delays to a project’s timeline. The project delays can be related to unanswered questions that arise that need to be answered quickly in order to avoid progress interruptions to the production schedule. There can be a delay to the materials being approved or being purchased if the Client is not responsive which can shift back the team of installers working on jobs being completed. There can be a delay on approvals to be made by the Client for change orders being executed which can slow down the progress of the yacht’s refit and delay the completion date. There can be delays caused by the Client not making payments in a timely manner when they are due. In summary, a yacht interior refit requires participation and responsiveness of the client as well as the organization and abilities of the yacht interior designer and her team.

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