Marine surveys and valuations

If you are thinking of buying a motor or sailing boat, generally all but the smallest will need a pre-purchase survey or if you are buying a "project". Members of YDSA can help with all sizes - the YDSA Large Yacht Group members are experienced in the over 24m sector; whilst others can help you with under 24m - RIBS, sail, power, workboats, narrowboats ...

Well qualified yacht surveyors have a mixture of experience, specialist training opportunities and the backing of a well established Professional Association. Insurers require a survey so your survey can be used for this too and enable you to find out the condition before you buy. If you intend to register the boat on Part 1, ask for the tonnage measurement to be done at the same time.

The marine surveyor may identify faults that the average boat owner will not be aware of, possibly using specialist equipment. Knowledge of faults and deterioration can assist the purchaser regarding associated rectification of defects or appropriate allowances. Occasionally defects are found at survey that result in the purchaser re-considering the purchase.

The full condition report will give brief details identifying the craft - name, type of construction, year of build, registration number if applicable - and will outline the extent or limitation of the inspection. This is followed by a full description of any defects found, together with graded recommendations for remedial action indicating how urgent the repair is. It generally includes the following main areas as appropriate:

  • Hull underwater Water
    Machinery Steering
    Keel Fuel
    Skin fittings Hull internal
    Rudder Electrical installation
    Deck fittings Bilge
    Sterngear Anchoring and mooring
    Mast, boom and rig Hatches and doors
    Topsides Sails
    Gas installation Windows and portlights
    Deck, coachroof and cockpit  

Limited scope survey

There may be times when a boat owner or buyer does not need the surveyor to carry out a full survey, only a part of the boat. This is called a limited scope survey and although it may be less expensive than a more comprehensive one, it is very important for the client to understand the limitations of the inspection. This may not be adequate to support an application for insurance and additional survey work may be required at extra cost.

However, limited scope surveys have their uses, for example:

  • if the boat has been repaired, and the owner wants to check on the quality of the repair work. The hull might need to be checked over for a specific defects, such as deterioration through osmosis or post a grounding incident where damage is suspected;
  • follow up after a pre-purchase surveyor has identified a problem in a particular system or area - such as the engines or the electrics - may warrant a closer investigation by a specialist. Many YDSA surveyors have specialist skills and knowledge in different areas, and it will always be possible to find a surveyor to meet your specific needs.



A valuation is not normally included with a survey report and you will need to request one if this is required.

An additional fee for providing a valuation will normally be charged. The "current market value" incorporated in the valuation may be relevant both for purchase and insurance purposes. It is based on, amongst other issues, the price that a willing buyer will pay a willing seller. A keen buyer who has researched the market thoroughly will have perhaps the most up-to-date knowledge of likely value of a particular vessel type, however, a surveyor normally has access to accurate information regarding the actual sale price (rather than advertised price) via specialist websites and other surveyor and broker colleagues, as well as his understanding of the condition of this particular vessel.

Attending the survey

Individual surveyors have different policies as to the presence of the prospective purchaser, but in general it is best to leave the surveyor to get on with his job undistracted. Most surveyors will be happy to discuss the principle findings on completion of the inspection but the purchase should not proceed until the full and considered written report has been received and read, and any concerns discussed with the surveyor. Don't be worried if the surveyor talks to the broker after the survey - if the broker is in the picture it can help enormously with negotiations if there are some issues. Providing the broker with the list of recommendations from the survey will also assist this process.

"Lunchtime lifts"

Lunchtime lifts are popular with boatyards because they simplify operations. Whether this is long enough for a thorough examination will depend to some extent on the boat, but a one-hour time limit is very often not adequate: your surveyor needs to be able to take whatever time is necessary to assess the boat. Discuss this with your surveyor before booking with the yard and don't forget - this is your cost, not the vendor's.

Swordsman 30

The Yacht Designers & Surveyors Association, The Glassworks, Penns Rd, Petersfield, GU32 3EW Tel: (01730) 710 425. Email: © The Yacht Designers & Surveyors Association.