Surveying Your New Boat
by Jake Gourd
If you are looking to buy a boat a Full Pre-Purchase Condition Survey is the most appropriate type of survey. It may also be worth asking for a separate valuation particularly if you require finance or if the boat is over 20 years old, when insurers often request a survey report and valuation. Some surveyors also offer External Hull Inspections or Partial Condition Surveys, the former is also known as an osmosis check when applied to GRP craft. Although these surveys may be less expensive it is very important that the scope and limitations of this type of survey are clearly established and understood before proceeding.
What isn’t included in the survey?
The survey contract will outline the extent of the inspection and lists any limitations. The following items are not always included in a full condition survey and may require engaging an outside specialist; rigging above head height, electronics including interfacing, engine and sea trials. The surveyor can usually recommend an appropriate person or may be able to carry out the work himself at an extra charge.
My insurance company requires my boat to be surveyed and valued, how does this work?
As previously noted, insurance companies will often request a condition report and valuation or appraisal by a surveyor as a requirement for cover, the valuation will normally be based upon a full inspection of the craft and may make recommendations concerning its safe operation, this should be seen as an opportunity rather than a chore.
How do I choose a marine surveyor?
It is worth bearing in mind that there is nothing to stop anybody describing themselves as a marine surveyor; it is therefore up to you to establish whether your surveyor is fit for the job.
A good starting point is to ensure that the surveyor is a member of an appropriate professional society or association. These should not be confused with various trade organizations that do not set out to monitor professional standards.
A list and details of the major professional societies can be found on the Boatsurvey.com links page. These societies or associations have a vested interest in their member’s good reputation, set minimum educational qualifications, have continuous professional development programs and expect surveyors to work to a code of conduct, which often includes a requirement to have professional indemnity insurance.
Different types of craft and materials will require different surveying equipment and techniques and it is important to ensure that the surveyor has the appropriate expertise. Boatsurvey.com’s advanced search helps to find surveyors by location, craft type and material.
A surveyor’s experience and reputation can prove harder to determine, but you can get an idea from the professionalism of a surveyor’s presentation and also by local recommendation.
What about professional indemnity insurance?
It is reasonable to ask a surveyor whether he has professional indemnity insurance cover, however surveyors may be wary if this is your opening question! Bear in mind that many professional indemnity insurance policies have non-disclosure clauses, which can put the surveyor in an awkward situation when asked to provide details of their cover.
I need a survey, how do I go about it?
Once you have selected a surveyor you should obtain a formal quotation and a contract outlining the scope of work and any limitations. When a date for the inspection has been agreed, it is your responsibility to make arrangements for the boat to be hauled out for the inspection.
The surveyor will outline any particular requirements, such as having linings or sole boards opened up and the removal on non-essential equipment, which might limit the inspection.
My boat has been damaged in an accident, should I employ a marine surveyor?
Following an accident your insurance company is likely to instruct a marine surveyor in order to ascertain the extent of any damage to a craft. You should be aware that in this case the surveyor’s client is the insurer. With this in mind you might consider engaging an independent surveyor in order to look after your own interests.
I have a new boat, should I engage a marine surveyor?
A marine surveyor can often be usefully retained as an owner’s representative to monitor a new build and will also give a professional insight with regard to working practices and the quality of installations. It may be particularly useful to engage a marine surveyor to carry out a pre-delivery inspection or snagging prior to handover.
Written for Bob Spalding. Online retailers of Used boats and other marine, leisure and extreme sport gear.
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