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.