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Old 17-11-2019, 01:31   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Sunshine Coast, QLD
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Pre-purchase Yacht Survey

Hi fellow yachts-people. After a number of years searching, I finally put an offer on a yacht in Australia. On the face of it she was perfect. I engaged a particular surveyor on the basis that they had experience of the type of yacht I was looking to buy and that he was accredited by a recognised Australian marine surveyor's organisation. I told him that a rigging survey and a motor assessment were to be undertaken first but those had not yet been completed. He asked for upfront payment of his entire fee which I paid. It then transpired that the entire rig and motor needed replacement. In discussion with the surveyor, it was clear that irrespective of a renegotiated purchase price, the yacht was not "viable" and would cost me far more to upgrade than she would then be worth. I discussed this with my surveyor and withdrew my purchase offer.

The problem now is that the surveyor will not refund any of my fee. I have offered to pay for his time up to that point but he has rejected this, will not communicate other than by email and has marked his emails "without prejudice"

I consider myself a pretty reasonable person and am happy to make sure he is not out of pocket. Incidentally, he had earlier erroneously made the 3 hr trip to survey the yacht on a different date than all parties had agreed! I have even offered to compensate him for his mistake (which he acknowledges).

I am not a wealthy person and would just like to get on with buying a yacht. Does anyone have any views on my position? Right now it seems that he is keeping my hard-earned money without having to do any work.

Cheers
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Old 17-11-2019, 02:29   #2
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Boat: 1970 Willard 36 Trawler
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Re: Pre-purchase Yacht Survey

If I understand, you negotiated a single fixed fee for the survey (versus three separate fees for hull, machinery, and rigging), but the survey was halted midpoint so you want the fee reduced.

Let me ask, if the survey had been completed and the survey and came back to you with "gee, you know, that really took a lot longer than I had planned. I want more money," would have written another check?

That said, assuming a fixed fee arrangement, it sounds like it would have been appropriate for the surveyor to reduce his fee, but was not obligated to do so.
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Old 17-11-2019, 02:44   #3
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Re: Pre-purchase Yacht Survey

Thanks mvweebles. I possibly hadn't explained enough. The surveyor in question was only doing the hull. The earlier rig/engine surveys were done by others. So my "hull" surveyor had done very little and not undertaken the cancelled (because of the outcome of the rig/engine surveys) hull survey for which I paid. Make sense?
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Old 17-11-2019, 03:34   #4
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Location: Ensenada
Boat: 1970 Willard 36 Trawler
Posts: 177
Re: Pre-purchase Yacht Survey

Makes sense. To his defense, he did sequester time for your work. That said, and as guy who earns a living as a self employed consultant, he's nuts not to make this right with you even if he thinks you're out of line.

Does the professional society for surveyors there have a dispute settlement process? I once had a dispute with a contractor for house repairs and lodged a complaint with the state licensing authorities. I never received my money but I was the first in what became a long line of shadey business practices (he was young and just starting when our paths crossed). You may never receive your money as the dispute process (if it exists) is likely non-binding, but you can put a few chinks in his reputation. Barring a satisfactory resolution there, you can tell your story online at ratings' sites to alert others. Finally, in the US, there is a small claims lawsuit process - most jurisdictions have a $5k limit. Perhaps Australia has a similar process, but chances are there are diminishing returns given the effort. In the end, this is a unwanted distraction from finding a boat and moving in with your dream - you may want to lick your wounds and move on

Sorry this went poorly for you on several levels.
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