Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Survey and Next Step

Finally got the survey report back on the Leopard 3800 we have under contract.  What was it that I said in a reply to a comment on the last post..."I don't think surveys ever come back with good news...just varying degrees of bad news".  Of course, this is really what you want in a know what the problems are.  After all you are probably viewing a boat purchase with those rose colored glasses that are coloring your view with all the anticipated fun you intend to have with it.

For those who aren't familiar with a survey report, I believe the reports are in a pretty common format as they are typically used to get insurance and financing on a vessel as well as telling you what condition it is currently in. There are typically sections for general information about the model of boat, one that describes the various compartments and systems, findings and recommendations, evaluation, and summary.  Oh, and we wouldn't be in America without the usual legal disclaimers. They can also have various appendices with additional information (I don't know if it is typical, but Jonathan usually includes a variety of pictures as well).

The particularly interesting sections are the "findings and recommendations" section, as it lists any deficiencies that the surveyor found in the boat and the "evaluation" where they come up with the estimated value and replacement cost of the vessel. The surveyor actually sent the "findings and recommendations" section a day early so we had a bit of time to research the issues and cost of repairs.

In a word, ouch.  We knew that there were some issues with the boat that we would have to address, and to a certain extent this is expected of any used boat (and probably, to a lesser extent, most new ones as well). We, of course, based our original offer on the items we knew about.  Well, the survey uncovered a pretty long list of other items that we had not anticipated. And the worst part, some of the items, such as the generator, are rather expensive to replace.  On the bright side, there don't seem to be any structural issues that make the boat unsafe, so it is all just a matter of the cost to restore the boat to working order.

This is where the whole boat buying process is a bit annoying.  When we first look at a boat we can look around but it is generally frowned upon to go around testing systems yourself (understanding some electrical setups alone need the owner to be present to explain it all).  So, some system issues just aren't found until the inspection.  But the offer takes place before the inspection, so you have to make assumptions about the systems.  Then, like in the situation we are in now, you have to go back and ask for concessions to the originally agreed upon price to cover these things that were assumed to be OK but are not.  And if we can't reach an agreement now, a lot of time and money has been wasted getting to this point.

And that is where we sit now.  Trying to determine what is fair to go back and ask the seller for.  It would have been nice if we had been told ahead of time that the generator, refrigerator, water maker, windlass, etc. were not working so the initial offer would have been more accurate.  We will now need to either reject the vessel or send a conditional acceptance of vessel with conditions that include a credit at closing. Boat buying can be a real emotional roller coaster.


  1. Ohhhhh I sooooo feel your pain. Offer low or you'll regret it later when you find the rest of the things wrong that the surveyor missed.

    S/V Kintala

    1. Hey Deb, your recent experiences have been in my mind through this process. I am willing to try to bring this boat back to its past glory, but it will definitely come at a price much higher than we thought when we put in the offer. We've countered with what my numbers and several people "in the know" in the industry say it is worth given the nonfunctioning we will see.