Pre-purchase Surveys

Carrying out a pre-purchase survey will give you the confidence that any serious deficiencies in the vessel have been identified, and will allow you to make informed decisions prior to completing the purchase. On reviewing the pre-purchase survey report, you will be able to:

  • reconsider the purchase in the event of any “deal breakers”
  • negotiate with the vendor to conduct repairs prior to sale or to adjust the price accordingly

In many cases, the cost of the survey will be more than covered through this process.

Even for those who are experienced and knowledgeable about boats, it is recommended that a specialist assess the boat from an objective position. When purchasing a boat, emotions can sometimes cloud your judgement, or you may feel pressure to purchase after having formed a relationship with the vendor and signed an agreement. Having access to an objective opinion and a document that clearly outlines the strengths and weaknesses of the vessel can be highly valuable and empower you to make an informed decision.

We recommend any offer made on a vessel is subject to a “satisfactory Pre-purchase Vessel Condition Report”.

What does a standard pre-purchase survey involve?

It is always recommended that the boat be slipped for a pre-purchase survey, and some insurers or finance companies require this. However, it is possible to carry out an ‘in water’ inspection in the first instance and in some cases this may provide enough information for your purposes.

Usually the person who requests the survey is required to pay for the slipping, although vendors may agree to pay or to deduct the cost from the purchase price in some instances.

A pre-purchase survey will, at a minimum, cover an inspection of the following items:

  • hull/deck/cabin/keel construction and condition
  • steering gear
  • cathodic and paint protection
  • mechanical installation (including ancillary equipment)
  • propulsion and stern gear
  • skin fittings and seacocks
  • electrical installation
  • electronic equipment
  • plumbing (water and gas)
  • toilets and associated plumbing
  • tanks and pipework
  • spars, rig, fittings and sails
  • deck gear
  • hatches and openings
  • ventilation systems
  • rails and lifelines
  • safety equipment
  • ground tackle

When conducting a pre-purchase survey, we run the motor if possible, listening and checking for leaks, smoke, engine mount integrity and controls. We also check the oil condition and coolant. We thoroughly inspect the installation of the motor and that of all ancillary equipment.

We also examine all elements of the standing rig that can be assessed from deck level. We take many high-resolution photos with a good quality telephoto lens and examine these photos enlarged on a monitor, which enables us to assess mast terminal alignments, broken strands, corrosion at fittings, and other points of interest.

We unfurl the headsail if weather permits, check the main sail on the boom and remove sails from their bags for inspection. This provides a good indication of the condition of the sails.

We also check the installation of all electrical and electronic equipment, and whenever possible test to check that these are functioning as they should be. We check for any physical damage, signs of water damage, damaged LCD displays or the like.

To facilitate the survey process, we ask that prior to a survey you ensure the boat is emptied of all items that are not part of the boat’s inventory, and that the vessel is thoroughly clean and bilges clear. Any areas that are particularly difficult to access should be opened and obstructions removed.

A sea trial is not included as part of the standard pre-purchase survey, although in most cases we strongly recommend a sea trial is carried out, as this enables us to better assess the functioning of the motor and sails under real conditions.

Additional services

Upon request prior to the survey, we can arrange for a more thorough inspection of certain elements of the boat. This may involve engaging a shipwright to remove and replace fastenings or interior panelling, which will normally require obtaining written permission from the vessel’s owner. We can also arrange for ultrasonic testing, x-rays, engine oil analysis, compression testing, keel bolt withdrawal and inspection, and testing of electronic equipment.

If the vessel’s motor is old, unreliable, or represents a considerable proportion of the value of the vessel, we can arrange for a specialist to be engaged to report on its mechanical condition.

If your vessel has older rigging, we may recommend engaging a professional rigger to climb the mast to check for hairline cracks and conduct dye tests.

As part of a pre-purchase survey, you may also wish to include a sea trial, which enables us to better assess the functioning of the motor and sails under real conditions.

We also offer valuation services and comprehensive photo documentation of the survey upon request.

Please discuss with us prior to your survey if you believe you may require any of these additional services.

Reporting and documentation

Following completion of the survey, you will be provided with a Pre-purchase Vessel Condition Report detailing the status of all items assessed during the survey and including a limited number of photographs to illustrate specific areas of interest, where applicable.

Within the report, we will alert you to any serious issues with the boat that may affect your decision to purchase or the price you offer. We will also advise you if maintenance or repairs are required, taking into account your intentions for the vessel. We will provide advice on rectifying any issues with the boat, and give an estimation of the costs involved. We can also discuss with you options for project managing these repairs.

If requested prior to the survey, we can also carry out comprehensive photo documentation of the survey.

Read our Terms and Conditions