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Marine Survey. Do I Need a Boat Survey?

Is a boat survey worth it? It’s a valid question that many people ask when considering buying a used boat. After all, buying a boat is an expensive undertaking, and anywhere you can save money during the process is a bonus. So do you need to lay out the extra money for a marine survey before signing on the dotted line? The answer is a resounding YES. Take a look at Why a good Boat Survey is essential before buying a boat:


What is a Marine Survey?

Before we look at why you need a marine survey, let’s look at what exactly a marine survey is. Also referred to as a pre-purchase boat survey, it involves a professional marine surveyor giving your prospective purchase a thorough inspection and producing a report detailing areas where there may be faults or damage. Surveys aren’t limited to high end superyachts, and all used boats – and indeed new boats which may have been sitting in a yard for a long time – benefit from having some kind of survey carried out.

There are several types of marine survey, including:


1. Insurance Survey.

This tends to be the most basic of the surveys and is a general overview of the condition of the boat which is required by an insurance company before they will offer cover for it. Do you need a boat survey for insurance? Most companies will need a boat survey for insurance. 

2. Finance Survey.

This is similar to the insurance survey. Marine mortgage lenders or finance institutions will usually ask for a survey to be completed before signing off on finance to ensure that what is essentially their asset (or partly their asset) is a good one. 

3. Pre- or Post-Transport Survey.

This assesses the condition of a boat before or after being transported and is again used for insurance purposes. 

4. Full Condition Survey.

Also referred to as a pre-purchase survey, this is the most comprehensive type of survey and will delve deeper into the condition of the boat, checking everything from its structural integrity to the electronics, safety systems, interior cosmetics and more. While all boats will have different requirements, essentially a full condition survey will look at the hull, transom, engine, mechanical and propulsion gear, communications equipment, fittings and electronics. Things such as cracks, osmosis and signs of accidents and water damage will be looked for, as well as general condition, age related wear and tear, connections and deck fixtures. 


Who Pays for a Boat Survey?

The buyer is responsible for paying for a marine survey, as they are the ones undertaking the ‘risk’ of purchasing a used boat. Whether or not the boat is bought via a broker, there is unlikely to be recourse if, after purchase, issues are found with the boat. It is the responsibility of the purchaser to ensure they have done due diligence and had their prospective purchase thoroughly checked. 

Another point worth noting is that if you, the buyer, organize and pay for the surveyor yourself, you know they are impartial. It is worth being wary of a seller offering to pay for a marine survey with a surveyor of their choosing (read our guide on other Ways to Avoid Scams When Buying a Used Boat - Buying a used boat from a private party). 


Why Do I Need a Marine Survey?

Outside of insurance or finance lenders requesting a survey, you should be getting a marine survey to ensure that your asset is a good one. Whatever budget you have for a boat will be proportionate to your income, and the last thing you want is to buy a boat which subsequently costs you far more than it is either worth, or you have to invest into it. 

A marine survey will flag up both problems there may be with a boat, but also let you know about all the things that are good with it. Far from a report of doom and gloom, it should ultimately ensure you feel reassured and prepared to take the final step to purchasing, or to feel justified and relieved in walking away from something that didn’t feel quite right. 


Can I Negotiate the Price?

Once you have your report in your hand, take your time to read through it and query anything you’re unsure of with the surveyor. It is important to note that the survey is for you, and it isn’t recommended you show it to the seller. Armed with the recommendations and status report, you can then use it to negotiate a better price or ask for certain works to be carried out before purchasing. Be sure to get accurate estimates for the work that needs doing before negotiating the price. While it might seem like you can grab a bargain if the seller is willing to drop the price considerably, you need to keep in mind the work that requires doing both in terms of time and cost. Check out our guide to Buying a Cheap Boat, Is it is a Good Idea? 


How do I Choose a Marine Surveyor?

If you’re going to spend money getting a marine survey, then you want to ensure you’re getting a good service and a thorough report by an experienced surveyor. Again, it’s always best to use a surveyor you find yourself or are recommended by a trusted friend than one recommended by a broker or the seller. While their intentions are likely to be good, impartiality is best here.

When choosing a surveyor, you want to ask the following questions:

1. Are they registered with an official surveying organization which regulates its members? In the UK, these include the Yacht Designers & Surveyors Association in the UK and the International Institute of Marine Surveying. These organisations hold lists of members in different regions, and so it is a good place to start looking. 

2. Do they have specific experience in surveying the size, style and construction of boat you are considering buying? There are specialist surveyors in sail boats, wooden boats, sports boats etc

3. Do they produce clear reports? Ask to see a dummy report to see the layout, detail and wording they use before deciding if it is right for you. You want a clear report which offers definitive recommendations or opinions. 

4. What do they charge? Be sure to get official quotes as well as their terms and conditions before agreeing to a marine survey. You also want to ensure that they carry indemnity insurance. 


Do I Need to be there for the Marine Survey?

You don’t have to be present for the survey, but it is a good idea to be present if possible. You will learn a lot about the boat you’re buying as you watch the surveyor work, and they can show you things as they discover them, which is easier than reading about it in the report later. 


We know that finding the perfect boat can seem like a daunting task. But armed with our library of practical information, advisors on hand to talk you through the process and of course thousands of boats for sale all over the world, Rightboat.com will ensure you find the perfect boat for you. 


You May Also Like ...

1. Pre-Purchase Surveys: What You Need to Know

2. Understanding Marine Surveys

3. UK: Do You Need a License to Sail a Boat?

4. USA: Do You Need a Licence to Sail a Boat?

5. EUROPE: Do You Need a Licence to Sail a Boat?



Written By: Rightboat

The Rightboat team

More from: Rightboat

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