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Old 21-06-2013, 17:59   #1
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A Good Surveyor Does Not Guarantee a Good Survey

I learned a very valuable lesson today. We have put a bid on a boat and had a survey conducted today by a very reputable surveyor. Supposedly one of the top surveyors in the area. I asked a lot of folks, mostly folks that had no interest in the vessel or the business, who they recommended and this particular surveyors name popped up over and over again.

I was sure to attend with my broker to ensure our interests were well represented. I still feel that my surveyor did an adequate job with the caveat that I don't know if I am expecting too much.

Just a word of warning to those that are going to have a survey... be sure to articulate to the surveyor exactly what is expected of them, how many hours they belong to you, and inquire as to what techniques they use. In my professional line of work, I provide highly skilled quality assurance consulting to most of the Fortune 1000 companies (if you woke up today you probably have used more than one thing that I helped build). If I went into a company and charged a rate equivalent of what he charged me and then I provided the level of service that he did, I would be sued. Seriously... it has happened!

For example... there is a very obvious area of the vessel that was damaged... not 'looked damaged. I wanted to know if this was really serious - like a cracked hull - or more cosmetic in nature.

1st... this supposedly great surveyor didn't even notice this major damage sign even though he stepped right over it 2 dozen times. Mind you, this is a glaring issue. I had to bring it up to him and he response was "what damage?". What????

2nd... I assumed that since he went on an on about how detailed his survey would be and that he would be there "all day", that he would be conducting certain investigations using tools and techniques outlined in the many of Bob Casey's books and some more modern techniques that I think should be standard. For example, he did not use any kind of inspection camera to look into areas of the lockers or behind cabinetry that had some obvious water staining in the area beneath the damage on the outside. This area of the vessel is very accessible to an inspection camera and did not require taking anything about or whatnot. When I enquired as to this, his response was "I can typically just look and tell if there is a problem". I was able to get my point and shoot camera positioned under the area and take some pics up into the area which revealed at least several bolts that had no backing plates and no nut.

3rd - I asked if he had checked the fridge. He said he turned it on in the morning and things looked good. Turns out the thing was't even getting slightly cold!

4th... he did not check the VHF, the windvane, he asked ME if the sails looked good, he did not see that the emergency tiller shaft was blocked by a wall that someone had constructed, spent about 30 seconds (literally after hauling his ass up) looking at the spreaders, made no note that the bowsprit had some areas where it appears split, etc, and etc.

In the end, he basically verified the items that I know were problematic in the first place and he decided that he was going to call it quits in mid afternoon! Certainly, the survey cost me x and when it comes time to negotiate for a credit towards the vessel in the closing cost, he saved me many more times that after his charge.

However, I have to wonder just how good his inspection was.

Word to the wise - no one cares about the vessel you are buying more than yourself, so you would be wise to complete your own inspection and not worry about stepping on someones toes. Nor should you put blind faith into the surveyor.
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Old 21-06-2013, 18:18   #2
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey


The ONLY reason I would ever pay some clown to survey a boat, is because some insurance company insist on it, otherwise never again !
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Old 21-06-2013, 18:22   #3
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pirate Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

Quote:
Originally Posted by zboss View Post
Word to the wise - no one cares about the vessel you are buying more than yourself, so you would be wise to complete your own inspection and not worry about stepping on someones toes. Nor should you put blind faith into the surveyor.
Only used a surveyor once... like you I thought it was a joke..
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Old 21-06-2013, 18:28   #4
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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Only used a surveyor once... like you I thought it was a joke..
A joke it was, a joke on me. I wasn't laughing too hard while handing over the cheque.
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Old 21-06-2013, 18:38   #5
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pirate Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

I did not see my inspection... was told to be there for 10am if I wanted to watch... turned up at 0945 to find him chatting to the Moorings broker and a claim he'd woken early so started at 0600..
Clean bill of health... but it developed a few faults the next few days..
Like no electric windlass when I got to SMX... back to Tortola for an argument with the broker and a new motor...
Tip of the week... any remedial work done by Charter Company workers.. don't leave them alone... watch them right through the
job..
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Old 21-06-2013, 18:39   #6
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

From that litany of omissions, I'd suggest you change the title of your post. "Good" should not be used as the descriptor of your surveyor.
You might feel good blaming these omissions on the surveyor or you could consider finding some better references for the future.

Clearly, this surveyor is incompetent.
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Old 21-06-2013, 19:10   #7
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

Certainly parallels countless experiences I've had with many a surveyor. They are simply a part of the insurance racket. I told the last one he didn't have to do anything if he didn't want to, just reprint the same survey he did two years ago and sign it. He did, and charged me almost full price for it! I would never ever waste money on one of these shysters if they hadn't found a way to force me to do so. In my years in the boatyard, I have picked apart many a survey. I have yet to be impressed by one, I can always find glaring omissions.
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Old 21-06-2013, 19:31   #8
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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Originally Posted by Efraim View Post

The ONLY reason I would ever pay some clown to survey a boat, is because some insurance company insist on it, otherwise never again !
ditto! Did my own survey first, then paid for the insurance required survey. A lot of money for a lot of maybe's. The surveyor did spend all day and did a decent job, but was not able to identify centerboard pin access plates on keel, which makes me wonder what he has been inspecting all these years.
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Old 21-06-2013, 19:39   #9
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

Years ago in my area I heard someone say, "If you want to buy a boat, get surveyor A. If you want to sell one, get surveyor B. When I told A I had heard this, he said it makes no difference to him whether it's for a buyer or a seller. I've seen him work and I know I got my money's worth.
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Old 21-06-2013, 20:06   #10
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

Curious Steve, why would a seller need a surveyor?

I am at a point in my life where I could do my own survey, but I do like to have the second pair of eyes. Worked with three surveyors, two very good, one not so experienced with sailboats.

I am always there, standing over their shoulder, asking them questions. Sometimes they don't know the answers; sometimes the answers take me places I never considered. It's always worth it for the peace of mind.

Now that I am back home, I am sure there will be more surveys since they are required for insurance every few years, though these are cheaper and quick and can be combined with a haulout for bottom painting.
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Old 21-06-2013, 20:21   #11
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

i have only use surveyors in purchasing boats. i usually do my own inspections. i miss a lot less than does the surveyor.
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Old 21-06-2013, 20:53   #12
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

The first survey I had done was by a surveyor recommended by the broker. I was a newbie. I had the boat hauled at the yard recommended by the broker .I later found out that the surveyor worked part time for the yard. Some yards have the MIDAS touch, but I learned that this yard had the FECAL touch. Everything that they touched turned to sh@#. The only thing they didnt mess up was the bottom paint. I had a couple of boats surveyed after that, but but the surveyors didnt find anything that I had not found in my own looking. I must say that there is a fellow on CF called Boat Poker that gives very good advice on surveying. My last 2 boats I did my own survey, and never found anything later that I thought a surveyor would have found. There are several good books on surveying and Boat Poker has a thread on CF that is very good.____Just my opinion.____Grant.
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Old 21-06-2013, 20:54   #13
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

Quote:
Originally Posted by zboss View Post
I learned a very valuable lesson today. We have put a bid on a boat and had a survey conducted today by a very reputable surveyor. Supposedly one of the top surveyors in the area. I asked a lot of folks, mostly folks that had no interest in the vessel or the business, who they recommended and this particular surveyors name popped up over and over again.

I was sure to attend with my broker to ensure our interests were well represented. I still feel that my surveyor did an adequate job with the caveat that I don't know if I am expecting too much.

Just a word of warning to those that are going to have a survey... be sure to articulate to the surveyor exactly what is expected of them, how many hours they belong to you, and inquire as to what techniques they use. In my professional line of work, I provide highly skilled quality assurance consulting to most of the Fortune 1000 companies (if you woke up today you probably have used more than one thing that I helped build). If I went into a company and charged a rate equivalent of what he charged me and then I provided the level of service that he did, I would be sued. Seriously... it has happened!

For example... there is a very obvious area of the vessel that was damaged... not 'looked damaged. I wanted to know if this was really serious - like a cracked hull - or more cosmetic in nature.

1st... this supposedly great surveyor didn't even notice this major damage sign even though he stepped right over it 2 dozen times. Mind you, this is a glaring issue. I had to bring it up to him and he response was "what damage?". What????

2nd... I assumed that since he went on an on about how detailed his survey would be and that he would be there "all day", that he would be conducting certain investigations using tools and techniques outlined in the many of Bob Casey's books and some more modern techniques that I think should be standard. For example, he did not use any kind of inspection camera to look into areas of the lockers or behind cabinetry that had some obvious water staining in the area beneath the damage on the outside. This area of the vessel is very accessible to an inspection camera and did not require taking anything about or whatnot. When I enquired as to this, his response was "I can typically just look and tell if there is a problem". I was able to get my point and shoot camera positioned under the area and take some pics up into the area which revealed at least several bolts that had no backing plates and no nut.

3rd - I asked if he had checked the fridge. He said he turned it on in the morning and things looked good. Turns out the thing was't even getting slightly cold!

4th... he did not check the VHF, the windvane, he asked ME if the sails looked good, he did not see that the emergency tiller shaft was blocked by a wall that someone had constructed, spent about 30 seconds (literally after hauling his ass up) looking at the spreaders, made no note that the bowsprit had some areas where it appears split, etc, and etc.

In the end, he basically verified the items that I know were problematic in the first place and he decided that he was going to call it quits in mid afternoon! Certainly, the survey cost me x and when it comes time to negotiate for a credit towards the vessel in the closing cost, he saved me many more times that after his charge.

However, I have to wonder just how good his inspection was.

Word to the wise - no one cares about the vessel you are buying more than yourself, so you would be wise to complete your own inspection and not worry about stepping on someones toes. Nor should you put blind faith into the surveyor.

That happened to me too. I told the guy what I wanted, but he decided to make it a superficial insurance survey, and he overlooked MAJOR things. And this guy was recommended to me by several people I knew to be knowledgeable people.
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Old 21-06-2013, 20:55   #14
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
From that litany of omissions, I'd suggest you change the title of your post. "Good" should not be used as the descriptor of your surveyor.
You might feel good blaming these omissions on the surveyor or you could consider finding some better references for the future.

Clearly, this surveyor is incompetent.

My surveyor came sith outstanding references -- couldn't be stronger -- and he missed major things.
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Old 22-06-2013, 03:02   #15
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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Nor should you put blind faith into the surveyor.
+1

But nonetheless a decent one (or even half decent!) is a comfort for those who are not confident in own ability to self survey. Plus a good one should be able to talk you through the boat - things to consider and ballpark costs.

IMO a good survey result is one where the Surveyor does not find anything that you didn't know already!.....which is confirmed after the first year of ownership.

Not sure what to look at? Everything .

I must confess that I bit the bullet on a survey for the current boat (after much umming and arring!), partly I will admit it was as a comfort for me, and partly because as I was buying abroad I did not have the opportunity to have a few visits interspaced by bouts of thinking! The report I thought was pretty good, and with no surprises to me (lots of imperfections on her - mostly to do with being older, but I knew most of that before even seeing her).......later I did not discover any nasty surprises.

I think the Surveying business has fundamentally changed from ye olden days, especially in the days of wood where a Vendor would (rightly!) only trust a professional with a spike! Nowadays with much of the value being in the toys (which are easy if time consuming to test) and with Mr Google plus countless self survey books then IMO most of the value for a surveyor is for insurance purposes - and those without the knowledge or inclination to learn before buying......the "good" news for those is that they do get the opportunity to learn after purchase, whether they want to or not! - albeit learning curves can vary in cost $$$ ).

Personally I would feel that a Surveyor would add value for a pre-purchase inspection report, a lot lighter (and cheaper) than a full survey to basically say whether the boat is worth further consideration, possibly combined with an Insurance Survey (or making one of those cheaper later).

IMO a survey before sale does add value, as a marketing tool. Obviously a Purchasor cannot rely on it, but a great (and easy) way to see whether a boat is worth a serious look.....whether enough value to get one depends on how much the boat is worth, and perhaps whether you need to find a newbie with dreams .
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