least some familiarity with engines but stop
short of a complete inspection — oil analysis, compression check, and so on. Using a
scale of 0 (no inspection) to 10 (complete
mechanical inspection), the poll average
of 6.05 indicates most surveyors spend at
least some time with engines. Based on the
age of the boat, the number of hours on the
engine, and what’s found during the inspection, a surveyor will often recommend that a
mechanic do a more complete analysis. It’s
usually good advice, although some surveyors include a disclaimer recommending an
engine inspection with every survey. The
same is true of sailboat rigs — going aloft
— and electrical system inspections. The
latter can take many hours and is usually
recommended with some imports or when
an older boat’s electrical system has been
ASK BEFORE HIRING A SURVEYOR
Bob Adriance is editor of Seaworthy, the
damage-avoidance newsletter produced by the
BoatU.S. Marine Insurance division. Seaworthy
is e-mailed free to Members quarterly.
TOM BENTON, a marine surveyor in Oklahoma, considers it a red flag whenever a conversa- tion with a prospective client begins with a discussion of price. “How much do you charge for a survey?” Benton acknowledges it’s a fair question, but it really bugs him whenever
it’s the first question. Other surveyors interviewed for this article echoed similar sentiments. First
establish a surveyor is qualified to survey the type of boat you’re considering. Here are some
questions to ask before asking about price:
1. How long have you been surveying boats? Several years of experience are no guarantee of
competence, but, as with any profession, it’s a terrific start. Also, what marine-related experience
does the surveyor have? A lot of surveyors came to the profession via boat repair yards, which is
another plus; having done repairs for years gives the surveyor a good understanding of why and
where a boat is likely to develop problems.
2. What professional organizations do you belong to? Aside from being a member of NAMS
or SAMS (a few are members of both), a surveyor should be a member of the ABYC, which is the
organization that writes the standards used by most of the major marine manufacturers. The NFPA
is another standard organization that writes fuel and electrical standards for boats. (Note: The surveys themselves should include appropriate references to the standards.) Although few surveyors
belong, a membership in the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) is almost a guarantee that the
surveyor takes a highly professional approach to valuations.
3. Can I be present? If you plan to be there during the inspection, be sure to ask if it’s OK. Most
surveyors prefer you be there, if for no other reason than to make sure you understand whatever
problems they encounter. However, there are a few surveyors who prefer to work alone.
4. How much do you charge? Once you’ve found the best person for the job, ask about price and
what’s included. Some surveyors want an up-front deposit and a few want to be paid in full. You
may also be asked to sign a written agreement. As with any contract, read it before you sign.
WANT TO KNOW WHAT A SURVEYOR TESTS FOR? SEE OUR ADDITIONAL STORY ONLINE, “WHAT
A SURVEYOR SHOULD LOOK FOR,” ON WWW.BOATUS.COM/MAGAZINE/SURVEYOR.ASP
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