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Old 03-24-2009
Big Chicken Baby
 
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Tips on finding a good surveyor

We have an offer in, which has been accepted. Funds are in escrow and now we need to find a good surveyor. Our broker recommended two surveyors but my husband wasn't overly impressed with the depth of their surveys. Granted, he's an engineer-a particulary meticulous one at that!- so what constitutes a thorough survey to normal people does not necessarily work for him.

We are asking around but thus far it seems you really need to be in the know to find a quality surveyor. My questions are as follows:

1.Is it unreasonable to ask a surveyor for client references?
2.How many former surveys should we ask to see from one surveyor?
3. When making such a large purchase, does it make sense to have two independent surveys done or are we just wasting resources?

We are in the Kemah area, so recs would be great but I wanted to make this useful to others and not so much a me, me, me post.
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Old 03-24-2009
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I don't know how complicated or expensive a boat you are pursuing, but IMHO you want to find a "high-end" surveyor, ...being a surveyor whose expertise permits him/her to charge a premium compared to the run-of-the-mill surveyors, to charge a full-day minimum plus travel time, who spends half their time overseas and and who generally books only 3-4 weeks out. You may pay twice as much, and have to be patient until your appointment rolls around, but it will be the best money you could spend.

To find such a surveyor, I would call the office managers of some area high-end boat dealer/brokers, someone routinely selling vessels worth several million dollars, and ask who surveys their new or used boats. If you call several dealers, you are likely to hear the same one or two names...names your local broker would ABSOLUTELY never suggest to you.

FWIW, I got impatient on my last boat purchase and did not follow my own advice, and I estimate my impatience ended up costing me 30-40% of the $45K sale price, due to missed problems. $1-2000 for an expert survey is the best money you will ever spend.
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Last edited by sailingfool; 03-24-2009 at 11:02 AM.
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Old 03-24-2009
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I like Sailingfool's advice. I have found it worthwhile to ask the manager of the larger boat repair yards in the area for recommendations for a surveyor. They tend to be respectfull of their craft and not as influenced by economics. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 03-24-2009
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Thanks so much, you've been very helpful.

Cost was never an issue as we are big believers in paying a fair price for quality service. If we were haggle about the cost, we really don't have a right to complain about the service. The reverse is also true, if you pay top dollar I think it is fair to expect a throrough, professional end product.

The difficulty has been in finding quality and expertise worth paying for and knowing where to look to find it. You have pointed us in the right direction and we are very grateful.
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Old 03-25-2009
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I would avoid the surveyors the broker recommends, as they are often (but not always) recommended because they routinely do not find issues that may make a deal go bad. I am not saying they would not find something intentionally, but may not be as through, and their allegiance is to some extent to the broker, as they live on their referrals. Remember the ONLY thing in their interest is selling the boat. They are working on a commission and will only get paid if the boat sells. Yes there are reputable brokers and there are reputable surveyors working with them, but for every good one there are some not so good.

By the way there are a few here on the board, and you may be able to get a referal off line.
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Old 03-25-2009
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Thanks for the tip Miatapaul. We are on the same page as far as using the broker's rec. We might have considered it them IF the sample survey we had seen was thorough- but it wasn't. The listing specs told us more than the sample survey.
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Old 03-25-2009
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When I bought my boat, I asked for referrals from the surveyor, two example surveys, and I asked if I could join him while he did the survey. The referrals were good, the expample surveys were good, but what really sold me on him was he did not hesitate to letting me watch over his shoulder on the survey. I asked many questions during the survey and he was not annoyed at all. He actually liked having me there so he could show my anything he found.
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Last edited by nickmerc; 08-18-2011 at 05:15 AM.
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Old 03-25-2009
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Being present at the survey is, to my mind, critical. Any surveyor that objects to your presence throughout would be unacceptable to me. You'll see/hear first hand impressions and comments that will be invaluable and that can often lead to make your decision perhaps before the official report arrives in the mail.

If he/she doesn't want you around - what are they hiding?

Word of mouth usually brings up a few prime candidates... but that's difficult to get if you're buying away from your home area.
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Old 03-25-2009
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Thanks for the tip on being there. My husband had already planned on being present (again with the Engineer Stereotype ) but I think it is worth mentioning so others can benefit from this thread.

Fortunately we are starting off locally but even if we have to look further afield I think flying out to be present would be well worth it. Airfare and hotel are cheap compared to most boat repairs.
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Old 03-25-2009
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You might contact BoatUS, they have a listing of solid surveyors that are surveying for insurance purposes. Nitpickers, looking for everything wrong on the boat.
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