We hired a surveyor to inspect Scream before we purchased her. We're not experts in boat maintenance and we were enamoured with the boats, so we wanted an objective, expert opinion.
We called a number of surveyors. They were recommended to us by our broker, our insurance agent, and by friends. Surveyors supervise repairs paid for by insurance, so I believe that the insurers have the best knowledge of surveyors. I recommend choosing your insurer and then using the surveyor that they recommend.
Hiring a surveyor is expensive. The survey of Scream cost about 1% of the purchase price. Even on a small boat the survey price is unlikely to be less than $500. So do yourself a favour and spend several hours looking under every hatch of a prospective boat before you hire a surveyor.
The survey of Scream took over eight hours. The surveyor:
- Tapped the whole hull and superstructure to check the fibreglass.
- Examined and tested the engine and drive train
- Examined and tested the electrical system
- Examined and tested the plumbing
- Examined the rigging and winches
- Examined the shaft, propeller, zincs, bottom paint, and through-hulls
The boat should be hauled out of the water for the survey. You may need to arrange the haul out or the surveyor or broker may arrange it.
I strongly recommend being present at the survey. Follow the surveyor. Discuss your concerns with the surveyor, and ask questions, but remember to temper your curiosity enough to allow the surveyor to get their job done.
Our surveyor prepared an eight page long report. The report lists everything on board, and comments on its state of repair. The report also listed deficiencies that need to fixed. Finally, the report provides an estimate of the boat's value. This is useful both to cross reference the purchase price and as a starting point for your insurance.