Boat Survey Cost


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 13, 2018

Just like a home inspection, a boat buyer often hires a boat surveyor to assess the boat in question and let the buyer know of any problems he or she sees during the inspection.

While it’s completely optional, many consider as a peace of mind knowing they are purchasing a boat that is in working order and in great condition for years to come.  But in the case of insurance and financing, it’s often required and is referred to as a pre-purchase survey.

Boat Survey Cost
Boats on new Nokia N82” (CC BY 2.0) by Robert Scoble

How much does a boat survey cost?

The cost of a boat survey often depends on the length of the boat, and in most cases, surveyors will have a flat fee, but some may want to use an hourly rate as all boats are not created equally, even it was the same length.  Either way, experts recommend you should budget about $18 to $25 per foot, but it could be higher in the case of a complex setup and/or larger-than-average boat.  Other factors will include the professional you choose, the type of survey/inclusions needed, the age of the vessel, the materials, the systems on board the boat and your geographical location.

Additional costs can add to the estimates mentioned above as well.  For example, if you needed the boat hauled out of the water in order for the surveyor to powerwash the bottom to inspect it, this could easily add another $15 to $25 per foot to the estimates above.  Also, if you want a more in-depth engine assessment, it’s not uncommon to find surveyors add another $300 to $600 to the total costs as well and is often highly recommended in the case of a larger powerboat where the engine is a larger part of the value.

According to the official prices listed on MaritimeSurveyors.com, he noted his pre-purchase condition and valuation marine survey would cost $18 to $20 per foot while consulting can cost $100 per hour.

Another surveyor we found online, Latitude Marine, Inc.com, quoted $18 to $22 per foot for a pre-purchase survey, according to its official prices.

ALMSurvey.com, yet another company we found online, stated its minimum is $18 per foot, with a minimum survey fee of $395.

What is included in this price?

Most surveyors, at least a good one, will always ask that the boat is out of the water so that the hull and underwater gear can be checked.  During the inspection, a surveyor will examine a boat in depth from the top to the bottom, looking at the hull and deck, often determining any soft or rotting spots by using a hammer and moisture meter.

Next, he or she will examine the health of all AC and DC electrical systems, the plumbing, deck systems, fuel/propane system, steering, controls and all safety equipment. During this time, a detailed report should be created according to the U.S. Coast Guard regulations, as well as American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards.  In some cases, inside the report, an experienced surveyor may include potential problems, even if not noticed, based on the history of the particular make/model.

If you consider an in-depth engine survey, then this typically includes an inspection of the operation and condition of the propulsion and generator engines, as well as the inspection of the controls, cooling, exhaust systems, engine mounts and electrical.  The temperatures and samples of the oil levels should be tested, and again, an engine survey, being quite expensive, can be recommended if the engine in question is either expensive, complex and/or it appears as if the owner did not take care of it.

Upon completion, your surveyor should include a description of the boat as well as each system on board, any findings/recommendations/suggestions based on the importance of each one, photographs of anything in question, a statement in regards to the boat’s overall condition/health, and a fair market value based on the current market trends/data.  All of this data, often compiled within 24-48 hours, is often available via email, fax and/or mail.

The additional costs to think about

In some cases, as mentioned earlier, a surveyor may want to either outsource an engine inspection or do it themselves if they have the right education.  In this case, be prepared to budget another $300 to $600+, greatly depending on the type of engine, who you hire and where you live.

Most surveyors will travel a certain amount, often about 25 miles, but anything outside of this radius may incur an additional mileage charge.

Older vessels, live aboard vessels or those in very poor condition can often increase the costs by more than 30%.

An oil sample, which can then be forwarded to a lab, can cost an extra $50 r so.

A corrosion check for zinc and metallic underwater fittings can cost upwards of $100 per hour, depending on what he or she charges.

Other additional services, often not included in the estimates above, may include ultrasonic testing, moisture testing and/or other related non-destructive tests.

Tips to know

If you are a buyer, it’s always best to show up in person so that the surveyor can show you any findings in person.  If they do not allow this, then it’s best to choose another professional.

To save money, ask the surveyor to check the parts in question first to see if it is in good shape.  That way, if the parts were not in the condition they should be, you could skip out on the survey completely and avoid paying for a full inspection if the surveyor agreed to it.

In some states, some marinas require an up-to-date survey and/or liability insurance, which, if needed, requires an insurance survey as well.

Anyone can technically be a surveyor; however, in order to find a good one, MarineSurvey.org recommends looking for professionals who are part of an accredited organization and can be accepted by banks/insurance companies.  Check credentials, find out what kind of training they have and see what makes them different from other surveyors.


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