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Thread: Checking In With Questions from Saratoga Springs, NY

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    Checking In With Questions from Saratoga Springs, NY

    I am excited to be a member of this community. I am about to embark on my first homebuilt aircraft. My goal is to start construction by the end of this year. I, like many novices, have a lot of questions I would like some insight on.

    Firstly, while I already posses my pilot license, I am not really interested in building a plane I would enjoy to fly. My plan is to build a showpiece, have it for a year to take to shows, sell it and then build another one. I hope to build, 3-5 aircraft before retirement and then build a masterpiece (TBD) when I have plenty of free time.

    My building criteria are:
    • Majority of work can be done in a single care garage
    • Preferable for a positive ROI
    • Good support system/likelihood of success


    The aircraft I am looking at are:

    Pietenpol - This aircraft has a long history and a very active online community. Being wood, it should be quite straight forward to build. My only trepidation about this aircraft is the fact that I will unlikely break even, however being so cheap it likely can be overlooked and I may just keep it and allow people to enjoy it.

    Cri-Cri - This was the first homebuilt aircraft I learned about. Therefore it is special to me. It is perfect for my workspace, however I have not worked with metal and being plan built it will likely be a long arduous build. However, with that I will likely learn the most from this build. With its time to build and low cost, I would not need to sell it and will likely keep it and allow young aviators to enjoy it as a multi engine builder.

    Vans RV-8 - As you know, this is the most substantial aircraft in my list. I have not done metal work, however I would take an empennage class which sounds like it will provide you the basics to build upon. The down side to this aircraft is the cost. I will likely have to time construction to finances, and I do fear that if I ever had to stop working there is a potential of a significant loss. On the up side, it will be a fantastic aircraft once built and will provide a positive ROI. My one question, I have read, and if I remember right some of the earlier kits are more challenge because the rivet holes are not pre-drilled - does this include the 8?

    Zenith STOL CH 701 or 750 - This seems like the most sensible option. It is metal work, they also have the tail assembly class to teach you the basics to build upon. It seems like a great aircraft, fairly cheap, good support from the factory, proven flight record, likely easy to resale.

    Kolb Mark III - I really like this aircraft, hence adding it to the list. I think it will be easy to build, however I fear it is along the lines of an ultralight construction rather than real airplanes. I think it is also expensive for what it delivers and likely will be difficult to sell due for a reasonable sum.

    Any and all insight will be welcomed.

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    Registered User bmcj's Avatar
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    Re: Checking In With Questions from Saratoga Springs, NY

    Out of those you listed, I think the Van's offers the best chance for a positive ROI if built as a showpiece. It has the broadest market audience. Wood planes such as the Piet don't seem to draw the high prices for some reason. The Zenith is loved by some and hated by others (probably due to its strange look and oilcanning of the thin metal skins). The single seat Cri Cri has a lime red market and the Kolb will be lumped in with ultralights which sell for a dime a dozen.

    On the plus side, I do see the aircraft market showing signs of rebounding.

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    Moderator Dana's Avatar
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    Re: Checking In With Questions from Saratoga Springs, NY

    If you take on any homebuilt project planning on a positive ROI, you're probably going to be disappointed.

    Dana

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    Re: Checking In With Questions from Saratoga Springs, NY

    First of all, welcome!

    Are you counting your time as part of your overall cost, or are you considering your labor to be "free?" That will have a big impact on your choices.

    There seems to be a reasonable market for any of the Van's aircraft, as well as the Zenith. If you truly want to use the proceeds as a springboard for the next aircraft, I think these would be the best options from your list. Some of the Van's fans go pretty crazy with avionics and doo dads. If you can restrain yourself in that department, I think you may be able to make a little profit.

    The Cri Cri is an amazing little plane, but it is reportedly complex to build and takes a while. We do have a resident expert on this...there is a long-running build thread here you can peruse (and should, even if you don't build one). Resale market will be pretty limited.

    The Kolb and the Piet would fall somewhere in between, I would think.

    You may already have considered this, but embarking on a build project in which you don't have a strong interest will increase the risk of it not getting finished. On the other hand, profit is always a good motivator!

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    Re: Checking In With Questions from Saratoga Springs, NY

    I hate to say it, but unless you have someone paying for you to build, you will not make any money building a homebuilt plane. As hobby airplanes, labor is "free". On another forum there is talk of having a 4130 frame ready to go cheap. Materials are around $2000 to do everything yourself. Pro shop just covering costs is about $9000; thats why if you want ready to go, its going to cost $15,000. DIY $2000 and a summer worth of free time or $15,000 turnkey. About equal. The Vans is the closest; you can probably break even on it, but it will cost $80,000 to build with 0 time components. Cri, Piet, and Kolb are sub $25,000 planes on a good day and the Zenith would be easy to sell but its price is the hardest to guess.

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    Re: Checking In With Questions from Saratoga Springs, NY

    Thank you for your replies. Just to clarify a couple points. I am not looking to get compensated for my time. It is a hobby. However as building is the hobby, I am aware I can do this various ways, some after selling the plane I could be in the hole a thousands while others I could break even or even make a small profit.

    What are the communities thoughts of picking up an unfinished project?

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    Registered User BBerson's Avatar
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    Re: Checking In With Questions from Saratoga Springs, NY

    Unfinished kits can be very low priced.
    The RV -12 is a quick build with good resale, I think.

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    Registered User bmcj's Avatar
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    Re: Checking In With Questions from Saratoga Springs, NY

    Financially, an unfinished project would likely be your best option. It could be finished and dressed up, and be done in shorter time. Many unfinished projects sell for less than the raw material cost.

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    Re: Checking In With Questions from Saratoga Springs, NY

    With rare exceptions, aircraft homebuilding is a hobby, not a business. I agree with what has already been said, that any Van's design would be easiest to resell, but also the most expensive build, and a positive return on investment including labor time is unlikely. It's your time, your life, but I'd say choose what you think you would most enjoy building and flying, regardless of resale, and go from there. If you want to make money, them I suggest restoring antique cars instead.
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    Re: Checking In With Questions from Saratoga Springs, NY

    If you build a Cri Cri of all the others listed, you would be considered a building god and people will camp on your doorstep. If building is fun and that's what you are after, I would build hardball aerobatic plane like a S1 Pitts with upgrades, Z200, or a One Design. There will be a market for them finished. There is a stigma with homebuilts if they have not been flown their Phase time off so expect to do that to get the best price.

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    Re: Checking In With Questions from Saratoga Springs, NY

    ROI and hobby aren't really related.

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    Re: Checking In With Questions from Saratoga Springs, NY

    Put 2,000 hours in to a rehab in real estate and you might make money.

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    Re: Checking In With Questions from Saratoga Springs, NY

    Life is short. Wouldn't it be best to build something you enjoy flying and keep it? If that goes well, and you put some hours in, your next project might be easier to sell.

    BTW, I don't know how it affects the resale value, but there is an alternate, steel tube fuselage design for the Piet.

    Have you dismissed the Fly Baby? Awfully cute. I saw one being built at my alma mater's hobby shop, and then I was at an airport and saw it fly in several years later.

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