The Value of a SDMC Pre-Purchase Inspection
As the buyer of a new or used boat, the only opportunity you will have to negotiate with the seller of a vessel, based on its condition, is before the purchase. Once that’s complete, correcting any problems or deficiencies becomes your responsibility. The stronger the case you can make for what it will cost you to fix the problems with your prospective boat, especially those related to safety and reliability issues, the greater the probability that those costs will be taken into account in the final purchase price.
My ability to identify those problems; estimate the costs to fix them and his reputation in the marine industry give you unparalleled expert-driven leverage in the purchase process.
Also, most buyers anticipate refitting or upgrading their newly purchased boat to meet their specific requirements and boating dreams. Too often, a buyer is surprised and frustrated when they realize the total costs required to do that is significantly more than anticipated. The most advantageous time to project those future costs for maintenance, replacement and upgrading equipment, or for determining whether this boat will fulfill your boating dreams, is prior to the purchase. Subsequent to that, you must live with those costs and lost dreams or purchase another boat. This information will be shared with you as part of a SDMC Pre-Purchase Inspection.
The services offered by SDMC’s Pre-Purchase Inspection Program put me by your side throughout the assessment process. You have his expertise, experience and reputation as expert advisor, someone who has observed first hand, over the course of 25 years as a mechanic, electrician, boat yard manager, technical journalist and consultant, the myriad ways in which a vessel and its systems can fail or be designed or installed incorrectly, particularly when those issues are not readily apparent.
How do the services of SDMC differ from those of a surveyor?
In over two decades in the industry, I’ve reviewed hundreds of survey reports and worked with scores of surveyors. They are often required by insurance companies, and too often relied upon by buyers to assess the value of the vessel, and the cost of correcting or improving its systems so that they meet the buyer’s requirements for safety and reliability.
I was inspired to begin my vessel inspection and consulting business partly because I saw too many unhappy new and used boat buyers, who, after bringing their boat to the yard I managed, were taken aback by the cost associated with correcting the multiple safety and reliability issues overlooked in the typical survey.
In the vast majority of Pre-Purchase Inspections I conduct, surveys are also carried out concurrently and in most of those cases I’m given copies of the surveys. Simply put, with very few exceptions, my reports are significantly more detailed, reveal more flaws, more defects and offer more recommendations for improvement while identifying more areas that will cost the buyer money and compromise the safety and reliability of the vessel.
Most surveyors are capable of doing little more than thoroughly documenting the vessel’s systems, and that is certainly of value to you. However, the scarcity of action items contained in most surveys makes it clear to me that many survey reports are not the result of an ultra-thorough inspection of the vessel and its systems, and in that respect are of little value to the buyer in negotiating with the seller or builder, or in understanding the funds that will be necessary to raise the vessel to a standard that is acceptable to the buyer, while ensuring that it is seaworthy, reliable and safe.
The following represents a typical example of the difference between a SDMC inspection and a survey report. My inspection of a 52-foot vessel required two full days and my report numbered 154 observations (and over 400 photographs), roughly 40% of which fell into the ‘critical, must be resolved without delay’, category. The survey for the same vessel included a scant two action items and the vessel’s overall condition was deemed “very good” (unless clearly defined such “ratings” are highly subjective, which is why I do not use them).
In yet another example, a survey I recently reviewed for a potential client indicated that the fuel tank installation is “ABYC Approved” yet, just a few lines below that the surveyor dutifully notes that the generator and fuel manifold are equipped with “Racor 500 FG” series filters and that the fuel system is “well thought out” and the condition is “good”. FG series filters lack a heat shield and therefore do not provide the flame resistance necessary for ABYC and UL Marine compliance; they are not designed for use in marine engine rooms. Furthermore, while they may be ABYC compliant, no portion of a vessel’s systems are “ABYC approved”, as ABYC is simply a standards setting body, they carry out no inspections and offer no approvals or rejections. That’s simply one example that I selected at random from that report, there are countless such examples in my files.
In short, the overlap between my Pre-Purchase Inspection and most surveys is very little indeed.