It takes as much experience to survey a $5,000 boat as it does to survey a $50,000 boat. And a $5,000 boat very likely has more issues to find than the more expensive boat. Any repair on any boat is done at today's prices. A 10k deck repair on a 100k boat isn't too hard to handle but the same 10k repair on a boat you paid 5k for is a different story. This applies to any boat, whether a chevrolet like an O'day, Hunter, or Catalina or a mercedes like a Hinckley, Morris, or Swan. They all deteriorate if not maintained properly and the repair of a wet deck on a Catalina costs the same as on a Swan.
Sailingdog's boat inspection tips here http://www.sailnet.com/forums/boat-r...ection-tripare
a good start, not to replace a survey but to decide if the boat is worth surveying. The more boats you look at the more you will learn and the better equipped you will be to decide. Generally you do get what you pay for - the bargain boat often isn't a bargain at all.