If you are buying and planning to finance a used boat many lenders will require a marine survey. Most marine insurance companies require a marine survey before they will insure an older boat. So what's a marine survey and how much does it cost?
A good survey should more than pay for itself in negotiating a fair price when buying a boat and in forecasting maintenance and equipment upgrades when insuring one. A survey's total cost includes the surveyor's fee, and the boat's haul-out costs. You can expect to pay between $8 and $14 per linear foot of boat length for the surveyor's fee. Some surveyors may charge by the hour and bill for travel expenses.
There are four types of surveys: damage, appraisal, insurance, and pre-purchase. A damage survey, which assesses incident-specific damage, is used to determine cause and to specify repairs and estimate costs. An appraisal survey, usually commissioned for legal, financing, or donation reasons, is slightly more extensive and determines only the fair-market value of a boat. An insurance survey is more thorough and focuses primarily on systems and structural integrity to determine the insurability of a vessel.
The most comprehensive survey is the pre-purchase survey. Commissioned by a prospective owner, the survey contains a thorough examination and inspection of all of the systems, structures, machinery, and electronics, as well as the boat's cosmetic condition. Pre-purchase surveys often include out-of-water inspections and sea-trials. The surveyor works for the prospective buyer, and the survey report becomes the property of the purchaser.
Your surveyor will spend several hours inspecting the hull, operating machinery, and safety equipment where practical, confirming the specifications presented in the seller's listing sheet and making extensive notes. Look over the surveyor's shoulder and ask a lot of questions. This may drive him/her crazy, but you'll have a better idea of what you're getting into, how serious the problems are, what the options are for fixes, and costs. You will receive a detailed report outlining the survey findings along with recommendations on how deficiencies can be corrected to make the boat safe, insurable, and in compliance with acceptable standards. If you have done your homework, the survey will confirm your choice with further technical information concerning the boat's condition. The sale should always be contingent upon your satisfaction with the results of the survey. It may become apparent that the boat isn't worth buying before the survey is complete. Most surveyors will allow you to stop the survey at that point and will usually charge only 50% of the agreed upon fee. You'll get a brief summary of the boat's deficiencies and a recommendation not to complete the sale. This document is important if you are to be released from your purchase and agreement and get a full refund of your deposit.
Each surveyor has his own report format, but a complete and proper report can be as many as 15 to 20 pages in length and will include detailed comments and photographs of the following areas: bilge; interior accommodations; electrical; fire protection equipment; engines; and hull and deck structures.
There are a lot of surveyors out there. It is a wide-open unregulated field and a lot of people run into problems with unqualified surveyors. A qualified surveyor will bring a wealth of experience to the party; a thorough understanding of boat design and performance characteristics, materials science and construction, and most important, a familiarity with the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) National Fire Protection Association, and U.S. Coast Guard standards and practices. Most professional surveyors are affiliated with an accredited organization such as the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors SAMS or National Association of Marine Surveyors NAMS. Insurance companies requesting insurance surveys require a SAMS or NAMS surveyor.
In addition to a general survey, it is often a good idea to survey the engines and electronics. A mechanic who regularly services that type of engine should inspect this boat's engine, even on new boats. This is important because often engine installations are often inadequate and engines can be poorly maintained. If you buy the boat, you will have a list of all the repairs and improvements necessary for a safe and dependable engine. You will save many dollars and much grief if you correct these problems immediately. If your boat is new, the warranty might pay for much of the initial engine work. If the boat is used, the seller should provide additional discounts that should cover all or at least many of the costs of repairs and upgrading. If the boat has a great deal of electronic equipment, it will be worthwhile to have it evaluated by a qualified electronic technician. Again, a sizeable electronics inventory can represent a large portion of the boat's value, assuming it isn't obsolete or hasn't been severely damaged by salt, moisture, or misuse.
A sailboat's sails, standing and running rigging should also be inspected. Many surveyors are not sufficiently trained to provide a good assessment on these technical items or systems, be certain the surveyor meets your particular needs. This equipment represents a major part of your boat's investment and has a high potential for problems.
If you are intending to purchase, insure, finance, commercially operate a boat or if it has been damaged, you should be considering engaging a marine surveyor.
The marine surveyor provides his client with a professional opinion of the vessels condition, comments on its defects and makes recommendations for repairs.
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 a survey report and valuation is often requested by insurers.
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.
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.
That is true. There are many regulations and voluntary standards and recommended practices. In fact there is statistic data that only about 3% of boat damages are related to a manufacturer defect. However let's look at the other side of the coin. How many owners are aware of all of the standards or regulations pertaining to boats? As an example did you know that spark plug wires, alternators, starting motors, and other ignition components used in marine applications are specifically made in order to be ignition protected? The surveyor you hire to do your inspection knows this and about the other areas covered in many regulations and voluntary standards and recommended practices.
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.
These societies or associations, have a vested interest in their member's good reputation, set minimum educational qualifications, have continuous professional development programmes and expect surveyors to work to a code of conduct, which often includes a requirement to have professional indemnity insurance.
Different types of vessels and materials will require different surveying equipment and techniques and it is important to ensure that the surveyor has the appropriate expertise.
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.
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.
he 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.
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.
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.
It depends on the insurance company, the value of your boat, and its age. For the sake of safety, we recommend a survey at least once every two years.
Montenegro Marine Surveys charges a fee that is based upon the size of the boat. Specifically:
8.00€ per foot for pleasure craft
10.00€ per foot for commercial craft
(Mileage or additional expenses may also be applicable.) All fees subject to change without notice.
The charges cover only the actual cost of the survey and any non-destructive testing (such as laminate moisture). Mechanical, electrical and oil testing are available for an additional charge.
Generally we can complete a Condition and Value Survey within six (3) business days of your request. If you own the boat, we ask that you be present at the survey to open any locks or give us permission to board and access to inspect the vessel. If you don't own the boat, you need to have the owner's permission and access for us to complete the inspection.