Vitaliy Kulesh, CDN 1st Class Motor Eng., B. Eng.

Certified Marine Surveyor
437 233-6444

Marine surveys across North America

Expert maritime agréé
WHITBY, ON 437 233-6444

Relevés marins à travers l'Amérique du Nord

When is a Pre-purchase survey needed ?

Seasoned boaters are certainly capable of making good judgements about a boat they are thinking of buying, but frequently it is difficult to look at the boat with an unbiased eye – let’s face it, it can be love at first sight can’t it ? Is that the same love that is said to be blind? The Marine Surveyor looks at the boat more realistically, and can save you many headaches, and sometimes significant dollars.

New boaters should not jump into a purchase without having a pre-purchase survey done. There are many happy individuals and families made less so by buying the wrong boat for their purposes, or a boat with unexpected deficiencies. It’s better to learn about the surprises before buying.

In both cases, you as the potential buyer should commission the survey, to ensure your interests are uppermost in the mind of the surveyor.

It is common practice to make conditional purchase agreements, subject to a satisfactory survey (i.e., satisfactory to the potential buyer). This is for your protection.

Technically, this survey is equivalent to the Insurance (C & V) survey. Note that all documentation should be aboard the vessel – proof of ownership, registration or license etc.

The survey may be commissioned by an individual, financial institution, or other implicated party.

What does the Pre-purchase survey consist of ?

First, all documentation should be aboard the vessel – proof of ownership, registration or license, manuals etc. To avoid misunderstandings, the seller should remove all items, e.g.: PFDs, electronics, cushions, etc., that will not be included in the sale.

Having the boat examined both in and out of the water can give you much more assurance about the boat’s condition, as the pre-purchase survey is more extensive than the C & V (“Insurance”) survey. The full pre-purchase survey consists of four components:
♦ with the boat on land
♦ with the boat in the water
♦ equipment trials
♦ sea trials

The first and second parts of the survey are similar to a C & V survey, but include a more comprehensive inspection.

The third and fourth parts of the survey involve dynamic testing – of installed equipment and sea trials. Occasionally, invasive testing is required – such as hull corings, removal of fasteners in wooden hulls, etc. No invasive or destructive testing will be done without specific permission of the boat owner.

A Marine Survey cannot be called “full pre-purchase” unless the four described parts are performed. But some potential buyers will not or cannot do this – the cost and work (launching, hauling out etc.) discourages them, or the season makes it impossible. It is sometimes a matter of the buyer trying to balance risks against these factors.

Unless the survey is full pre-purchase, the surveyor can only sign off on the report as an “enhanced C & V survey”.

Who gets the report ?

The report is emailed, faxed or snailmailed to the potential purchaser.

What if you disagree with a part of the report ?

A Marine Surveyor has to maintain his or her integrity, and report all conditions he/she witnesses aboard the boat. However, as the client you have every right to question any part of the report. A revisit to the boat may be required.

How much will a Pre-purchase survey cost ?

Normally the surveyor will provide an estimate of the survey fee after asking you a few questions about the boat. Fee payment is due after the survey but before the survey report. If travel further than 250 km from Ontario is involved, the surveyor may require travel costs, these paid in advance of the survey and are not refundable.

Some of the factors which affect the fee are: age of the vessel, type and material of construction, length overall, type of propulsion, whether or not a recent previous survey report is available for review, whether or not the surveyor has to prepare the boat for survey (cleaning, sorting out gear etc.), going up the mast etc.

One of the best ways to ensure the fee will be the lowest possible is to prepare the boat for the survey. The boat should be clean, the owner should remove all non-essential items that may impede the surveyor. All covers should be easily removable, all lockers & compartments under berths etc, should be emptied. Please note that there should be a minimal number of persons aboard the boat – usually the surveyor, the potential purchaser and/or the owner or their representatives.

Some surveyors charge per foot of length overall as stated by the manufacturer, others charge hourly fees. Either way you can expect to pay between $ 15 and $ 40 per foot for a pre-purchase survey, no matter if the fee is length or hourly based. Please note that the conditions described in the last paragraphs may vary greatly, and result in a final fee lower or higher than the original estimate.

Please also note that the fees for other work that may be required in order to perform the survey (launching, hauling the boat, engine oil testing etc.) are the responsibility of the potential purchaser.

Travel further than 25 km from Shediac is charged at reasonable rates. On longer trips, payment for travel may be required in advance.

Who pays the fees ?

Normally, you as the potential purchaser are the client and you pay the fees. This is appropriate as the surveyor is working on your behalf.

Other questions ?

If you have other questions, please do not hesitate to contact
me by email or telephone.