Survey issues - who fixes them?

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Veteran Member
Jul 25, 2011
Vessel Name
Vessel Make
DeFever 72
HI Everyone,

Am purchasing a new to me boat. I had my boat surveyed and all went really well. Apart from a missing 225 nav light, there are no major issues requiring attention from the buyer. I live on the boat and it gets constant attention.

Anyway, the boat I am buying is 72ft long GRP twin engine, etc. I had her surveyed two days ago. I got my report and I was with the surveyor the whole time also. The boat has some major items to fix.

IT has the MMC electronic controls and one motor would randomly rev to max then come back by itself 30 seconds or so fun docking when it does that. That same motor just had the fuel pump rebuilt and we think the mechanic has incorrectly wired it back together or has never done that before...anyway, it needs to be fixed.

The starboard motor would not rev about 1300 (2300 is max). There was no black smoke or any other issues so I think it must be a fuel supply problem maybe even associated with the MMC units...this must be fixed.

I made a list of about 25 items which all need fixing...


Some of these fixes must be done and paid for by owner such as the ones above as the boat is unusable as it is. Some other fixes such as leaking exhaust, air con regas on one unit, fixing a bit of wood damage, replacing a few seacocks, dryer in laundry not working, start battery is getting flat...

Am I better off just taking money of the asking price and having my mechanics and people I trust do the other fixes. I can do many of them as well, it just takes time as you know.

What are your thoughts??

It is open for negotiation. Either owner fixes the items and pays for the repairs, or you agree to accept it with some discount in purchase price. Usually little stuff you can let slide.

But stuff like uncontrolled engine revs and failure to make rpms absolutely must be fixed to your satisfaction before you close. Those have the potential to be very expensive. On the owner's dime, those, absolutely.
Advise reducing price of boat to cover costs. You should control the repair in my opinion. Be careful to get enough $ to get it done right. Have a good yard Forman give you written estimate for repairs.
You guys are quick to reply...I actually am sitting at LA airport as I have come over for some work while all this is going on back I have an excellent surveyor who is very professional looking after the next sea trial and out of water inspection...hopefully they get the big things fixed. I agree that the controls and engine rpm issues and there is air in the hydraulic steering lines which makes the helm spongy and takes 20 turns to get the rudders full lock. These things stop the boat from even being safely operated...

Will update when I find out what is happening next.

Thanks for replys so far.

Any specific experiences in this area are appreciated.

There is no hard and fast rule, it is all subject to negotiation. But in general you want a discount on the selling price so you can fix the problems yourself and know that they were fixed right.

But some of the problems on your list are too open ended for that approach to work without you taking substantial risk- the engine rpm issues that you and Ski note above.

So I would split them up. Insist that the seller fix those open ended issues an you deal with the flat battery, etc with a discount on the selling price. Also be aware that in many cases you will be getting new, ie the battery and what you agreed to buy was used, but serviceable. So take that into account.

I have been a witness to hundreds of boat sales- One thing I found is that if a buyer pushes hard to have every little detail fixed, it can really aggravate the seller, often to the point that the sale collapses. It is needs to be understood that you are buying a used boat, and used boats will have issues that separate it from a new boat. Some issues as a buyer you should accept.

The engine stuff needs to be fixed.

One strategy I have seen work many times is for the buyer to accept the little stuff, with an estimate from a yard on the table. An offer is made where the buyer and seller split the estimate somewhere around 50/50. That takes into account that the buyer gets the benefit of say new batts over ok but aged batts, etc.

Good luck!!

PS., what engines?
Advise reducing price of boat to cover costs. You should control the repair in my opinion. Be careful to get enough $ to get it done right. Have a good yard Forman give you written estimate for repairs.

But in general you want a discount on the selling price so you can fix the problems yourself and know that they were fixed right.

This definitely. I had some outdrive issues with my current boat when I bought it. I negotiated for the seller to fix them before I would close the deal. He agreed. I have subsequently had to re-repair every single thing he 'fixed.' :banghead:

Get good estimates from people you already know and trust, then knock the price down.
Engines are CUmmins NT 855 big cams...good motors and zero smoke after 60 seconds or so and run clean.

Gensets are 20kva Nothern lights. All recently serviced. But the alternators are not working on either of them which I find strange. I have one of these gensets in my current boat and the alternator works great. I understand they are hooked to a battery charger so alternator is not necessary but it is a great redundant system and not hard to get going or fix with a new one.

Another question I had was the inverter is hooked up to a 24v bank with 4 x 200 amp hour batts. So 400 amp hour capacity at 24 volts. It is charged by a separate 24 volt charger. At night the inverter powers all except air con ofcourse. But it keeps the freezers and fridges going and then in the morning run the genset to charge the 24v bank. I was wondering why neither main engine had a 24 volt alternator to charge the inverter bank. Or is it just accepted that we are going to run the gensets a lot.
Who fixes depends on how badly the owner wants to sell as compared to how badly you want to buy. Somewhere along the way you should reach a reasonable agreement. If not - just walk away with no regrets.
Running a big refrigerator and freezer (big boat, right!) and other AC loads- hair dryer, microwave, coffee maker, etc will take some decent amphours from your 400 AH bank. Yes, I assume that the PO expected to run the generator every day, more about this below.

So make sure that your 24 V shore power charger is big enough to charge quickly, at least 100 amps at 24V. Otherwise you will have to run the genset for quite a while to replace those amphours.

Insofar as engine alternators being 24V, you could replace one engine's 12V alternator (I presume that is what they have) with a high output 24V alternator and external regulator and dedicate it to charging your 24V battery bank while underway. You will have to rewire your remaining engine's 12V alternator to charge the other one's starting battery, but that is not much of a problem. You will lose some redundancy, but with two engines and two alternators, a big house battery bank, a generator with a separate (I presume) starting battery, you will still have plenty of redundancy.

Good luck on your purchase. As others have said, don't let the small stuff block the deal.

The boat has some major items to fix.


What are your thoughts??

Good question. The answer it.... it depends. What it depends on is how you negotiate the purchase of the boat.

Quite often a problem, particularly a big one like a bad deck surface or a known problem with an engine or fuel tanks that have to be replaced before the boat can be safely used, can be negotiated out of the selling price. If it's going to cost $10,000 to replace the tanks, the price of the boat can be lowered $10,000, and then you can apply the $10,000 you saved to replacing the tanks.

Or..... the seller may agree to have problems fixed at his cost before the boat is turned over to you if you agree to pay the selling price he wants, or that you two agree on.

Or.... the seller can agree that the boat has some problems but since you're buying it and you're getting the boat at a great price (his opinon, usually), they'll be your problems to deal with.

Quite often, the answer will be a combination of the first two, or all three.

Something to take into consideration is: are you willing, able, and capable of fixing things yourself? If so, perhaps the problems can be used to negotiate the selling price lower, and then you do the work to fix the problems yourself and so save some or a bunch of money.

If you don't have the time, skills, tools, experience, etc. to fix the things that need fixing, then option 2 above may be the best bet. The seller has everything fixed, but you don't get an "it's broken" discount in the price.

So, like most things in boating, no fixed, one-size-fits-all answer, but lots of variables and possible answers.

Intangibles that should be included in the mix are: How much do you want the boat? Are you prepared to walk away and look at the other thirty-five zillion boats on the market, or do you REALLY want that particular one? What's your financial situation? Do you think you can get problems fixed for less than the seller can? Do you think that if the seller has the problems fixed, he might be inclined to cut corners to save money? If so, do you think you'd rather be in charge of fixing the problems to make sure they'll be fixed correctly?

Lots of options but they're all pretty much your call, I think.
Take care. Whatever you allow in a renegotiation is not usually enough. And getting the seller to do the fix risks him skimping. Negotiate a survey recheck on the work and demand the invoices, if you go that way. If the seller refuses, reconsider. I saw trouble and walked on one boat where the seller would not agree to "rectify in a good and workmanlike manner". For sure that engine issue has to go back to the mechanic to review/rework.
Remember, it`s a used boat, no point insisting it gets brought up to near new or for reductions to cover that. Many an owner is nursing or living with some issues until they truly need fixing.
I`d look at the sales description. When the seller describes the boat as fully maintained, or in turnkey condition, you have a springboard to request work or allowances.
Keep in mind that you have two big things in your favor.....

#1, if your surveyor found those items, most likely another surveyor will also. Ultimately the seller is going to have to repair major items before the boat gets sold. It's to your advantage to find out what the cost of the repairs will be, get the seller to lower the selling price by that amount (or as close as you can get) and do the repairs yourself. That way you know they're done right.

#2, you have the right to walk away. The seller is selling the boat for whatever reasons. You're a hot buyer who is interested in his boat, possibly the first buyer to come along in months. He doesn't want you to walk away, so use that in your negotiations.

Also, don't be in a rush. It took me almost 4 months of negotiating to buy the boat we now have. At the end of that 4 months we got very close to what I wanted to pay for it so I said yes. Remember that you hold the ultimate trump can walk away from the deal. If you do, don't call him back until he's had some time to see nobody else in line to buy his boat. Chances are he'll call you after a couple of weeks. If he doesn't and you still want the boat, give him a call and see if he's budged on the negotiations.
Hopefully everybody involved will be reasonable. You need two things to help the seller come to a reasonable compromise with you. One is the survey which you have the other is an estimate from a good respected yard for cost of making the boat safe and whole. Don't get involved with nit picking as pointed out by Ski. Then bicker and if satisfied with results buy, if not walk. There are lots of used boats on the market you are in a strong position.
There usually is no making a used boat "right".....just right for the price.

Too many buyers want the boat "turn key" for fire sale prices.

There is fair...and there is unreasonable. Unfortunately no one has the correct answer so it all becomes a point.
I may have missed something. Did the OP have a engine survey by a good mechanic familiar with the engines? This would be critical in negotiation process.
When we bought our boat the seller and his broker lied about the required repairs. I caught them in the biggest lie, but missed a couple of smaller ones. I agree with the others, it is better to get quotes on reasonable repairs and deduct them from the purchase price. My definition of reasonable repairs is anything that makes the boat unsafe and uninsurable (including outdated flares and fire extinguishers, non-working bilge pumps, plugged filters, etc.), or ugly enough to cause one to choke (wood rot, chunks of gel coat damaged).

Canvas, vinyl, and older but working electronics would be the new owner's responsibility.
When we bought our boat the seller and his broker lied about the required repairs. I caught them in the biggest lie, but missed a couple of smaller ones. I agree with the others, it is better to get quotes on reasonable repairs and deduct them from the purchase price. My definition of reasonable repairs is anything that makes the boat unsafe and uninsurable (including outdated flares and fire extinguishers, non-working bilge pumps, plugged filters, etc.), or ugly enough to cause one to choke (wood rot, chunks of gel coat damaged).

Canvas, vinyl, and older but working electronics would be the new owner's responsibility.

I agree with the above, I am currently working on a deal assisting a "new" to trawlers owner on a Nordhavn purchase. As expected the boat is in good condition for it's age.

Some issues that do need to be addressed after the survey are:
1-hoses on both the get home engine and rudder stuffing boxes are checked and suspect.

2-Life raft last certification was 2008, 1994 vintage.. life raft service center says replace it.. too old and they won't touch it.

3-A couple of the ac systems don't work, in southern climate Ac has to work. One doesn't work on heat.. not going to address this.

4- Bottom Guy that has been cleaning the bottom appears to have used a cheese grater or chisel to clean around the thru hulls and all the areas around them must be repainted.. he gouged into the primer.. moron.

5- The boat has had the heads all replaced but the hoses are all permeated and the sewage smell under the floors is wicked powerful.

The new owner isn't concerned with the misc list of bulbs, non tripping GFIC's, or anything electronic or cosmetic... he is only worried about 1/5.

He has compiled a list and attached a dollar amount to fix the items and will be submitting it to the owners.. if they want to fix the items great.. They have been taking great care of the boat for years.. if they don't want the hassle they can adjust the cost of the boat.

My caution to the new owner is to not get emotional, ask ACTUAL fair costs to remedy the defect issues, don't try to get a penny more that the cost for the "hassle" factor.
It is a meeting of both parties and both need to be satisfied in the end

If your surveyor is a registered surveyor in Australia he will be able to give you some goos advice on costing to reinstate all equipment to service condition.
The best surveyors are usually marine Engineers who have experience across the whole industry.
The vessel to purchase should be in a complete safe and seaworthy condition and repairs etc can either be subtracted from the price or completed by the owner before handing the vessel over. If this was the case I personally would want to know the repair contractors and their expertise and also survey any / inspect any work carried out.

By the way is it any boat I would know?

A few years ago we almost bought a $36,000 Larson 310, but it came down to one bad hydraulic pump - that model had outdrives and one outdrive wouldn't move, wouldn't come up because the pump was shot. We got a quote at the marina service department for $900. The seller insisted he'd fix it himself instead, said the lift shaft was just a little sticky. He wouldn't budge on that one issue (and neither would we) and so he lost the sale over not letting the marina do the repair for a $900 credit. That boat was on the market for another year and 'll bet the sale price didn't go up over that time.
Three variables.

The seller believes they are sitting on a 'gold mine' and are perplexed at your claims.

The buyer is trying to negotiate a lower price.

The buyer AND seller have to agree on a price.

How the price is agreed is part of negotiation. This is adjusted either by having the seller do the required repairs for asking price, or the buyer getting a lower price (and having the repairs done to satisfy the insurance co) BUT, the unknown is.... if the repairs exceed what the buyer negotiated in the sales price.

Two things to keep in mind. Once you make the deal, your insurance co will know the results of the survey. Then you will have to show compliance with the recommendations. If you have concluded the deal then the rest is up to you. If the deal hinges upon successful repairs then it's on the seller. This costs more in the price generally. The unknown is a gamble. If you have a stomach for gambling, then go for a lower price, and finish the repairs yourself. If you don't feel like gambling, then have the owner do it (but risk the deal falling through)
A USED boat is , well used , so perfection is not required .

The biggest hassels I have seen is when a buyer does not hold back enough money on a NEW boat that then fails survey.
About three years ago I was looking at a 33 ft Hans Christian sailboat . It needed a lot of work , rotten bow sprit bad teak decks and all the running rigging needed replaced . It needed a new head the original was gone. The owner wanted 60 k . I offered him 30 with no survey and no questions . We agreed on 45 if the survey came to that . I tarped the boat because it couldn't stand it getting any wetter than it was. I worked with the broker a full day to get this boat ready for survey . I wanted it bad if you can't tell by now .:facepalm: I met the surveyor at the boat the next day . About halfway into the survey the surveyor stopped and asked me where we were at on the price. I told him I offered 30 and we agreed on 45 with survey . He said I can continue but your original offer is what it's worth . He only charged me for 1/2 of the survey . I still wanted the boat bad because I knew I could fix everything myself and the boat was on the waterway where I' m at so no trucking involved . My final offer was 40 k. I was also looking at the trawler that I have now on yacht world and had several ccnverstions with the owner/ broker but had not gone to look at
yet . The owner of the Hans Christian stood firm on the 45 k . I told him I was looking at a trawler and was probably going to get it . The day before I flew out to see the trawler they came back with a counter at 43,500 , not even splitting the differenceon a boat that was only worth 30 k . I bought the trawler that I have now and the Hans Christian is still for sale today .
Bottom line....whatever the contract says.

I have seen it go to lawyers both ways when one or the other side didn't read the contract carefully enough.
Seems as though having survey in hand before makeing an offer might be best way to go :confused:
In my view significant items that were undisclosed or undiscovered prior to survey need to be negotiated regardless of offer price. There is no such thing as an as is offer. Buyers make offers based upon what they know. Surveys are conducted to learn what may be unknown by sellers and buyers.

Dependent upon offers are the little things. If you are giving all the money for the boat then you should get all the boat. If you are giving some of the money then you may be willing to accept some issues. That is the gray area and every deal is different.

Surveys occasionally end with the discovery of "showstoppers". Sometimes the deals just fall apart from all the little things adding up to more than a buyer can stomach.
I considered two vessels for purchase that had the NT855s. Some have dry exhaust manifolds with soot leakage that really makes a mess of things and clogs air filters. Largely irreparable too as the engines were designed for truck and equipment use where minor leakage is not an issue. Tony Athens is quire familiar with these engines and this issue. Communicate with him as you're in SoCal.

A white glove inspection will reveal the extent of problems, if any.
Let the buyer beware. If you don't know yourself. Hire the best surveyor you can find. Make an offer based on the findings. It's all about your negotiating skills.
Its kind of hard to survey a vsl you don't have under contract. The seller is under no obligation to sell the vsl to you at any price.
Yep there has been a lot of money spent on surveys that the deal never closes. I've done it twice :eek:
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