Do I need a survey for my boat purchase?

In a paper presented at the 1996 International Marine Applications of Composite Materials Conference (MACM 96) entitled “How Boats Get Damaged, A Marine Surveyor’s Perspective” the author, Gregory T. Davis NAMS-CMS, cites statistics gathered from Insurance company boat claims that suggest you may need one. The data indicated that 54% of all boat damage is a result of operator error. What might have happen to your dream boat?

But I thought boats were built to ‘standards’, so why do I need a survey?

That is true. There are federal regulations and there are ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council, Inc) voluntary Standards and Recommended Practices. In fact in the same MACM 96 paper the author found 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 the federal regulations and ABYC Standards and Recommended Practices.

But the boat I’m looking at looks “brand new”; a survey will be a waste of money.

That could be true. But did you know that 12% of all boat damage is a result of a lack of proper maintenance? Do you know how to look ‘under the covers’ so to speak and know if the boat has been properly maintained? The surveyor you hire to inspect the boat has the knowledge and expertise to know what is proper and what is not.

What is a Condition and Value Survey?

Simply put, a Condition and Value Survey (CVS) is a report which details the current condition of a boat and estimates its value.

The surveyor will complete a thorough visual inspection of the boat you intend to purchase. Some non-destructive testing, such as sounding the laminate with a hammer or testing with a moisture meter, may be included. If you want the bottom inspected on boats in the water you will need to arrange for haulout and pay for this before the survey appointment. The surveyor won’t be able to take things apart (destructive testing) because you don’t own the boat.

The survey report will cover the areas inspected and include recommendations regarding problem areas. It will also include a current market value estimate.

Buyers survey differs from a condition and value survey as the surveyor will operate electrical devices, and participate in sea trials. The Buyers survey is billed at time and expense rates to accommodate the cost/s of these additional services.

Who needs one?

Anyone who owns a pleasure boat or commercial craft, or is considering buying or selling one. Insurance companies and financial institutions also need Condition and Value Surveys anytime they insure or finance a boat.

What good does it do me as a boat owner?

Most importantly, the survey helps determine the overall condition of your vessel, that it meets the safety criteria which safeguard your passengers and crew. For individuals buying or selling a boat, a Condition and Value Survey helps determine the actual value of a craft. The survey also helps you determine whether you’re carrying the proper amount of insurance coverage.

Remember that you are hiring our surveyor for his or her objective opinion of the condition of the boat and its value. You may not agree with their final findings in either regard but you have benefited from their professional opinion.

Why is a survey important for an insurance company?

For insurance companies, a Condition and Value Survey helps determine whether the vessel meets USCG and ABYC specifications, and carries the appropriate level of coverage in the event that it is lost or damaged.

How often is a survey required?

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.

How much does it cost?

Davis & Company charges a fee that is based upon the size of the boat. Specifically:

$20.00 per foot for pleasure craft
$25.00 per foot for commercial craft
All fees subject to change without notice (06-2019)

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. All Condition and Value and Buyer’s Surveys are subject to Davis & Company Ltd.’s “Standard Terms”, a copy of which can be found here: Standard Terms

How long does it take?

Generally we can complete a Condition and Value Survey within six (6) 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.