Survey Confusion

Recently while at a boatyard I met a gentleman whose friend had just purchased a vessel I had surveyed three years ago. He said that the survey was good and he purchased the vessel on the strength of the survey and thought he got a good deal. Wrong! This particular survey was a pre-purchase survey but it was three years old. Have you ever had a car that had serious mechanical problems in a three year span? Has your car’s value stayed the same for a three year period? I don’t think so. Have you ever had serious problems with your house in a three year span? Get my drift? Nothing in this world is static, things change. I have seen vessels abused or maintenance neglected that have gone from good to trash in a matter or months. Last dental visit I had my dentist informed me that I needed $2700 worth of bridge work. My mouth was just fine the year before. Boats don’t maintain themselves and they will change especially where value is concerned.

If you are looking to buy a vessel and it has been recently surveyed, don’t accept the survey unless it is under twenty four hours old and it has your name on it. If you accept an old survey, you are asking for trouble.

There are two basic forms of surveys performed for the public. Condition and Valuation and Pre-Purchase. The Condition and Valuation survey is to provide all insurer or lending institution the information needed to assess tile risk and insure or loan funds for purchase. The Pre-Purchase survey is to provide the potential buyer with in-depth information about the vessel to assist him or her in negotiating a fair price based on basically what’s right and what’s wrong with the vessel.

The Pre-Purchase Survey can he used for insurance purposes, but the Condition and Valuation should never be used to purchase a vessel particularly if the potential buyer is not named on the survey. In my book this is a never situation. The Condition and Valuation should be a thorough report, but the Pre-Purchase is more specific in nature. Sort of like a series of close up pictures compared to a wide angle view of the same subject.

Several times a year I get into situations where I have to survey the same vessel twice. Recently the second survey was just over a month after the first survey. It looks like an easy job but in actuality it’s harder. The temptation is great for a photocopy job, but I still had to go from the top of the mast to the bottom of the keel. Guess what, a few things had changed.

I’ve said this before in a previous article but believe it’s important to say it again. If you are planning to sell your vessel an exhaustive survey before marketing could be a good sales tool only for finding out what’s wrong and correcting any major deficiencies prior to the buyers survey inspection. If you are a buyer, don’t accept a previous survey as any kind of a warranty on the vessel because it is not a warranty. If you think that you are going to save money by accepting a previous survey, you are wrong. Not only are you wrong, but this previous survey was not done for you and it doesn’t reflect the current state of the vessel. Penny wise and pound foolish applies here. The survey is the least expensive part of boat ownership. If you are a buyer,have your own survey performed by your chosen surveyor. Play it safe and play it smart.

Have a safe and enjoyable boating season and remember the Lord loves sailors.

© Neil K. Haynes April 7, 1998

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