Pre-purchase C&V Survey
A Pre-purchase condition and valuation (C&V) survey is intended to provide the buyer with the detailed information that they need to make an informed purchase decision. The survey report is often used as a tool to negotiate specific repairs with the seller and/or a change in the purchase price. A Pre-purchase C&V survey report is also used to satisfy bank and insurance company survey requirements. The buyer is strongly encouraged to attend the survey. At the end of the survey, a debrief is conducted with the buyer to go over the survey findings and to answer any questions while still on the vessel.
A Pre-purchase survey is a very thorough inspection of the hull and deck structures; equipment and machinery; as well as fuel, plumbing and electrical systems. The survey typically takes five to eight hours for an average 30’ – 45’ vessel. This includes inspection of the vessel both out of the water and in the water, plus sea trial, on the same day. Operating systems and equipment are tested to determine if they operate in a normal manner, including propulsion engines, AC generator, air conditioning, galley equipment, electronics, etc. The hull and decks are inspected using hammer percussion soundings and moisture meters to check for delamination of fiberglass composite laminates, relative moisture in a hull bottom, and elevated moisture in structural core materials. The internal structures are visually inspected for any signs of deterioration or failure.
The engines are tested during a sea trial to check their wide open throttle RPM ranges, cooling system temperatures and alternator outputs. Test equipment is used to check engine RPMs, temperature and voltage, where accessible. Oil pressure is monitored using the vessel’s gauges. Visual inspection is used to determine fluid levels, presence of leaks, crankcase blow-by, excess vibration, and exhaust smoke.
The mast and rigging of sailboats are typically inspected from deck level only using binoculars. However, on sailboats 32’ and over a rigging aloft inspection may be conducted if the halyards and deck hardware are suitable, and there are qualified people at deck level. Sails are hoisted and/or unfurled during sea trial. Sails found aboard in bags may be inspected unfolded on land, where conditions are suitable.
A Pre-purchase survey does not include: compression testing of machinery; oil analysis; internal inspection or pressure testing of tanks; destructive analysis of hull and deck structures; or invasive inspection of hidden spaces or inaccessible areas. Hardware and fastenings are not removed for evaluation. Navigation instruments are not tested for accuracy. Limitations of inspection sometimes include an inability to test equipment and systems that have been decommissioned for winter storage. Boats blocked ashore in the back of a boat yard for winter storage sometimes cannot be launched for sea trial.
It is always the option of the buyer to have the engines and AC generator further evaluated by a mechanic that is factory certified for that specific equipment. It is somewhat common and strongly recommended that vessels such as motor yachts, sportfish, and trawlers with large diesel engines have a separate mechanical survey due to the potential high cost of repair of hidden engine problems.