1. General Condition - frequently referred to as a ‘walk through’ this type of survey provides a superficial overview of the vessel as seen. Although the scope is limited this is useful in deciding if a vessel is worth looking at in more detail particularly for production boats where there are frequently a number on the market at the same time at various asking prices; most of the information supplied is from visual inspection and no physical testing is carried out. Although this type of survey only covers a brief inspection, it will usually include an inventory and a number of photographs to show general condition and facilities.
2. Pre-purchase survey - normally commissioned by a potential buyer once he/she has paid a deposit on the vessel. This is the most common survey carried out and also the most time-consuming. Defects in the vessel are noted in detail because the survey document will inevitably be used in negotiating the final price. Usually the vessel is out of the water before inspection. The survey report will cover every aspect of the vessel in detail but essentially only notes facts and not opinions. However a condition survey will usually include a list of recommendations categorised into - SAFETY - STRUCTURAL - MECHANICAL - COSMETIC. The liability for carrying out these recommendations lies with the owner and failure to do so on defects that threaten either the structural integrity of the vessel or the safety of its crew will affect the cover provided by an insurance underwriter. The decision to buy; how much to pay; or even to walk away, although influenced by the survey, is solely the purchaser’s to make.
3. Valuation - this is a statement of opinion of the financial worth of a particular vessel based on: market conditions; defects and condition of the craft. The surveyor assesses the condition of the vessel and what impact it could have on that value. It should be said, however, that a competent Yacht Broker is best placed to state the value of any given yacht and, after all, a successful sale is the best way of establishing a true valuation on the day.
4. Engine surveys
5. Insurance Survey - Concentrates on those physical aspects of a vessel’s condition that could cause an insurance underwriter to suffer a loss, together with a realistic assessment of 'valuation for insurance purposes', i.e. taking age and condition into account, the estimated cost of replacing the vessel, its equipment and ancilleries in the case of total loss. Osmosis is of little concern unless it affects the integrity of the structure. An underwriter’s major concerns are; skin valves; fuel and gas systems; standing rigging; fixed safety and navigation appliances; and an indication that the vessel is being maintained in a safe and reasonable condition. Moisture readings are not normally taken and no destructive testing is carried out.
6. Survey for Finance - Occasionally financial institutions will lend money using the vessel as security for the loan. In these cases they need to know first, that the vessel exists, and, second, that the condition and value of the vessel justifies the amount being loaned. Although closely linked, the finance company is primarily concerned with value rather than condition or usage. You are well advised to find out precisely what is required before commissioning such a survey.