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Choosing A Marine Yacht or Boat Surveyor

Advice from Spheredawn

Unfortunately the profession of Marine Yacht or Boat Surveying is effectively unregulated so anyone can say “I am a yacht surveyor” this can lead to bad experiences with yacht surveyors.

There are professional bodies which regulate the professional standards of members. Being an unregulated profession; membership of these bodies is voluntary. Of course membership does not guarantee quality but is a good start.
Some of the major organizations to be aware of are:
These organizations set stringent professional expectations of their membership and require the surveyor to hold professional indemnity insurance. So if your surveyor is a member there is no need to ask “are you insured”. Making the ‘Are you Insured?’ question redundant.
There are as above various associations with various levels of membership but the below ‘levels’ are worthy of note

A set of questions may be (click to read why YOU should ask them):

Why ask these questions?

ARE YOU A MEMBER OF ANY PROFESSIONAL BODY?

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  • Yacht Designers and Surveyors Association (YDSA or YBDSA)
  • Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) with the related Marine Engineers Certifying Authority Limited (MECAL)
  • International Institute of Marine Surveyors (IIMS).

YOU ARE A MEMBER OF YDSA / IIMS, BUT WHAT LEVEL?

For the YDSA the important levels of membership to be aware of are Associate / Accredited (we are going through a re branding process) and Affiliate there are also other levels which are brought about through long service etc.

An associate or accredited surveyor is:

“An experienced surveyor, producing good work and with suitable expertise and qualifications, such that the Association is happy for that person to advertise their membership.”

All associates must produce written reports to a high standard and take a formal exam produced by the YDSA

The accredited surveyor can use AMYDSA after there name.

An Affiliate is : The entry level for for membership and in general they will be less experienced than the higher levels. This level should not advertise membership.

Affiliate level is given after a number of reports have been submitted or currently to graduates of an affiliated college training course after a report has been submitted

The IIMS has several levels of membership the following are of note (there are others for technicians, students and special service):
Most IIMS members can advertise there membership
Members of the professional bodies in the higher levels of membership (generally the ones with experience) can also undertake MCA coding an experienced surveyor will generally offer this service.

  • Full (MIIMS after name) - The highest ‘normal’ level of member means in essence that the surveyor has considerable experience
  • AssocIIMS - Qualified individuals practicing Marine Surveying or Consultancy but who do not yet fulfil the conditions to become Full Members
  • Graduate members (GradIIMS) - Individuals who have passed an Institute Degree or Diploma course but have not sufficient experience to qualify as Associate Members

CAN YOU UNDERTAKE MCA COMPLIANCE CODING?

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These service is something that it is hard to bend the truth about, and is something within the marine survey industry which does have regulation.

We would recommend this as a question to ask if you require this service or not, as the ability to be able to undertake them gives an implied experience.
Many surveyors are retired people or people who have decided to have a career change and an unregulated industry relating to a hobby seems like a good idea.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PROFESSIONALLY INVOLVED IN THE MARINE INDUSTRY?

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So they may have come from a background which is unrelated to the marine industry and therefore will have a lack of background knowledge and will not be as experienced as they claim.

Look for a person who has at least a five year professional background in the industry. Together with a least three years of professional surveying experience.

Not just a person who has x years of boating or boat owning experience.
A very important thing to be aware of is price; most good surveyors will price a boat on length x beam x a positive multiplier.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

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Be extremely wary of surveyors who are too cheap or quote directly on £’s or €’s per foot as the time taken to survey boats is hugely variant upon type, construction and age.

A price which is overly low or based upon per foot is likely to be from a “surveyor” trying to build up experience and a market for themselves rather than a seasoned professional.

Do of course ensure the price is clear - is travel included?
Any good surveyor should be able to provide a sample report of something similar to what you are buying.
Is an architect a naval architect?
Is a biochemist a GRP expert?
Is an chartered aeronautical engineer a marine engineer?

CAN I SEE AN EXAMPLE OF YOUR WORK?

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WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?

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Of course not.

Are the qualifications held by your surveyor really relevant to marine surveying?

What level are these ‘relevant’ qualifications at? A diploma, week/month long course, a degree?

Of course a degree in naval architecture or marine engineering is worth a lot for background knowledge and will qualify the things found in the practical environment.

It is still no substitute for time spent professionally in the marine industry.
This has always struck us as an interesting one, we have always been happy to provide them and many surveyors advise this as a key question to ask. But is it really?

CAN I SEE A REFERENCE FROM A PREVIOUS CLIENT?

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A recent experience on a survey has lead us to believe not.

What does a written reference prove without contacting the person involved and verify.

Look here is one:

Spheredawn are the best marine surveyors in the world

Mr D, Duck

So you would contact Mr D, Duck, but ask yourself, what real client would be prepared to field phone calls lasting say 10 minutes from each potential client could be as many as 6 each week? Not many, or in the case we came across not a real client at all.