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gknopp 06-26-2003 03:37 PM

Picking a surveyer
Ive now got an offer in on a boat and would like to idea on how to qualify and pick a surveyer. Aside from seeing if they have experence in sailboats and the specific boat in question, what kinds of qualifying questions should I ask? Should I rely on te ones the broker proposes?

I know many of you have the ''voice of experience''. Thanks....Gary

paulk 06-27-2003 03:33 AM

Picking a surveyer
The broker is likely to know most or all of the surveyors in your area, so getting a list from him won''t hurt. Many surveyors belong to one of their professional organizations - (Different ones are prevalent in different parts of the country.) - and a surveyor who has taken the trouble to join and who follows the standards they set may be preferable. They have websites with member names. Besides asking the broker, ask for names at a few yards or repair places. Check out the ones whose names keep coming up. Ask them why you should use them and see how they react. You want someone who communicates well besides knowing boats. Absolutely try to be present for the survey so you can ask questions and hear the answers right there. (Bring a tape recorder if you have one.) You can learn a lot from a surveyor''s comments and tone that will never show up in his written report. Even if the boat "fails" survey - and a surveyor will ALWAYS find something wrong with a boat - you will learn a lot for the next one. Good luck & happy sails!

hamiam 07-08-2003 10:18 AM

Picking a surveyer
not to flame paulk but I would strongly disagree with getting a list of surveyors from the broker; he is representing the interests of the SELLER of the boat and, if the surveyor is aligned with the broker somehow you may not get the critic survey you deserve. Take my word for it; I used the broker''s surveyor on my last boat and am still paying for MAJOR structural repairs, re-rigging, and an engine replacement. What a nightmare. Goto the NAMS or SAMS website. They list members by state. Call a couple of different guys and find out what they cover in the survey and how much they charge. Any that is worth his salt will send you a sample report and will let you accompany him during the survey. (Which can be a great learning experience.) Depending on the cost of the boat, complexity, and rigging you may want to get a rigger to look at the rig and a mechanic to look at the engine. A proper survey is NOT possible if the boat is left in the water. Haul it out and let it dry for a bit if possible. A good surveyor should find a laundry list of problems; most will probably be minor. These problems can all help you negotiate the price down. Good luck.

Thermal 07-09-2003 10:55 AM

Picking a surveyer
I agree with hamiam - the broker has a vested interest in see the deal go through, and a survey that reveals too many problems would be counterproductive to that interest. The vast majority of brokers are in for the short term deal, and couldn''t care less about what happens after the sale. Kind of like real estate brokers, but with much less legal accountability. The best surveyor would be the one that elicits a groan of dismay from the broker.

pblais 07-09-2003 11:58 AM

Picking a surveyer
I think you both overlook an important detail. No reputable surveyor is going to be swayed by a low life broker and expect to eat regualrly. As the last broker I worked with stated, he would rather have the very best vs. a poor one because the validity and clarity of the survey becomes a negotiation tool. If that data sways a buyer it should also sway the seller to move as well. A high quality survey will help the buyer move the seller closer to a negotiation that works becuase there is real data to sway both parties. Good surveys help close deals not just warn you off poor boats.

Most boat deals that go bad are not because the surveyor found out there was a 3 ft hole in the hull. They often end up at an impass over a collection of large and small issues that can be negotiated with MONEY to the satisfaction of each party. When you both agree to terms you have a deal and the broker gets paid. yes the broker has a vested interest in closing the deal, so do I when I''m trying to buy a boat.

Getting a list of names from a broker is nothing to worry about. You still have to check them out with other sources and look for real credentials and experience to make sure they are qualified.

Getting a list of names should include talking to anyone you can talk to including the broker. It''s up to you to hire a qualified person you really want to work with. Most professionals go with the money. As a professionsal (not a surveyor) it always works for me and my relationships with clients. If you pay - I work for you 100%. What idiot surveyor would rig a survey for a broker that isn''t going to pay them a nickel vs. the client that will spread word all around about what a jerk he was?

If you need to come in from out of town call local marinias and it usually comes out after a few calls which names are the good ones. Unless you are in a alrge boat market everyone generally knows everyone else. It''s not a bad thing.

fourknots 07-10-2003 04:05 AM

Picking a surveyer
hamiam is right - DO NOT use a surveyor recommended by the broker unless he is also one you have found through other sources. The best source is:

These surveyors have been screened by BoatUS, are members of one of the two major surveyors associations, and are accepted by their insurance.

Next best is a search of NAMS or SAMS (google search to find) and pick one from their list.

I strongly suggest not hiring a surveyor who is not a member of the two organizations unless you can personally vouch for their ability.

allyby 09-07-2003 07:39 PM

Picking a surveyer
I had an excellent experience with a surveyor recommended by a broker. He belonged to NAMS and SAMS, had an excellent knowledge of all systems, was a sailor himself, and knowing I was a novice took me under his wing so to speak and showed me a lot of things I did not know to look at. So IMHO it is okay to use the broker list, but like others have said above check if they belong to NAMS or SAMS. My two cents worth.


sailingfool 09-08-2003 06:02 AM

Picking a surveyer
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Ditto the comments to not rely on a broker''s recommendation - like house inspectors, there is a wide divergenge in skills and expertise amongst surveyors, and a broker will sensibly recommend "good" surveyors, but not necessarily "tough" surveyors.
When buying a boat you want to be as well informed as possible, as it''s very easy for a "good" surveyors to get a lot of details, but miss big things. Out last "good" surveyor missed a leaking fuel tank, bad engine mounts, and the tired state of the diesel, needed repairs found after purchase, amounting to about 40% of the purchase price.
To find a "tough" surveyor, I had contacted several local top-end yacht firms ( Hinckly, Little Harbor, etc.) and asked who surveyed their big boats. I came up with a small number of area names - surveyors who operated at this level are special, expensive, and hard to schedule. You may have to pay them for the day, plus travel expenses, as they know thier value and can demand such compensation.
Unfortuantely, none could schedule our survey in less than two weeks (because they are so in demand!), so we went with a "good" local surveyor.
Big mistake. Pay extra and get the most capable surveyor (someone who is trusted with $1MM+ boats) and it will be the best money that you spend on your boat.

Good luck.

sailingfool 09-08-2003 06:04 AM

Picking a surveyer
54 Attachment(s)
PS - if the boat has an diesel engine, hire an engine surveyor also, and be sure to get a compression test - a sea trial doesn''t do it!

quinlanmw 09-08-2003 08:57 AM

Picking a surveyer
All great advice, especially if your budget is unlimited...imagine your investment in hiring a general marine surveyor, a rigging surveyor, an engine surveyor, and paying for a haul out all before closing the deal.

Seems to me that by that time the owner has the upper hand in final price negotiation, knowing how heavily invested you are already....

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