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Lise77

Pre-purchase Surveyor recommendations near-ish Birmingham

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Hi all,

 

My partner and I are trying to join in the amazing world of narrowboats, we've found one we love and want to buy but are having difficulty finding a surveyor that is recommended and available. We've tried Balliol as there seems to be a lot of recommendations for him on the site but he's not available unfortunately at the same time as the marina has dry-docking availability and sadly he said anyone he'd recommend is also fully booked right now, guess it's a busy year for boat buying!

 

If anyone else knows of someone who is either in the area already or okay travelling out to Worcestershire way and excellent with surveys that please let us know, it is our first time so we want to make sure we get someone who is both friendly and willing to take the time to go over everything with us as well as thorough enough to ensure they won't miss anything. This is the biggest venture of our lives to date and we're really quite nervous about the whole thing so really want someone great.

 

Thanks for any help you can offer

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Try Trevor Whitling at http://www.whitlingmarine.comone of the best surveyors I know. I've used his services many times, on all types of survey from pre-purchase surveys to old-age insurance surveys. As said above, it'll be much better if you can be there at the time too.

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Thanks everyone for the advice, it seems to be quite a small group who do these surveys well, unfortunately also seems an incredibly busy time of year, most are booked up for the rest of the year. Best we could do is offers by John Balliol (potentially free Monday) or Peter Tindall definitely free Monday to do this but we're away for that week and were really hoping to be there since we're so new to this and really wanted to be able to get in some one on one feedback and questions. They both produce detail reports and have been recommended by other surveyors and boaters, Peter is closer geographically and said we could meet him when we're back if we want to go over it, I'm sure John would do the same but he is a bit more out of the way.

 

Does anyone have any advice on what we would be best doing here? ie. Should we go ahead and have it done while we're away then settle when we're back (assuming the broker is okay with this) or should we just see if the broker is happier to wait until we're back? She was concerned that because it's been getting so cold they might have issues getting the boat out of the water into the drydock if we wait any longer as they've already had a bit of snow out there. Much appreciate any advice you can give!

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Try Tom Keeling, he did a survey for me earlier this year - very good.

 

He lives in Alcester so not too far away

 

Geoff

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Thanks Geoff, unfortunately he's moving house so too busy at the moment, we got his name off Craig Allen who recommended him, then Tom recommended Iain Jones or Chris Williams, they were busy but Iain recommended Peter...I think we've spoken to everyone whose been mentioned or recommended on this forum now

Edited by Lise77

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I don't think it's a big problem if you are not there on the day, usually surveyors will speak with you after you have read the detailed report to discus any concerns you have with any of the details within it, either in person or at the phone.

 

Don't let the broker/ boat yard dictate to you, if they can't get the boat out of the water when you/surveyor want begin to walk away... they will find away.

 

Good luck ... there are plenty of for sale boats out there to fall in love with.

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Thank you, that's very reasuring...Our broker has been very lovely so I'm sure she will do the best she can with whatever we decide, I think I'm just being too indecisive.

 

Do you or anyone else happen to know much about the YDSA and how reliable it is as per it's list of surveyors? I personally prefer the personal recommendations as I worry these qualifications are often just bought but it is somewhat consistent with many of the names others have recommended

http://www.ydsa.co.uk/surveyors.asp

 

Apologies if I'm asking too many questions, just very new and quite nervous with making such a large purchase.

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I have never seen that list before. I think you are right personal recommendations would be preferable. Failing that www.canaljunction.com/boat/surveyors.htm have a few midland based surveyors, I could easily recommend Justin at J G Marine at Braunston, he has done engineering jobs for me but not surveys and has a good reputation.

 

If there was a bad apple in surveyor world they would surely be flagged up on canal based web sites or forums such as this one, I haven't seen that happen yet.

 

Our boat was done buy www.ijmarinesurveys.co.uk/ based in Northants so not to far from Brummie land. I wasn't there when Ian did the survey. He emailed me with pictures of a couple of small points of concern before I even got the detailed report (it was very detailed and included a valuation) was happy to discuss his report over the phone, he even went back to the boat a few days later to check the boat yard were doing the blacking correctly. We were very pleased with his service.

 

Hope this helps

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I have never seen that list before. I think you are right personal recommendations would be preferable. Failing that www.canaljunction.com/boat/surveyors.htm have a few midland based surveyors, I could easily recommend Justin at J G Marine at Braunston, he has done engineering jobs for me but not surveys and has a good reputation.

 

If there was a bad apple in surveyor world they would surely be flagged up on canal based web sites or forums such as this one, I haven't seen that happen yet.

 

Our boat was done buy www.ijmarinesurveys.co.uk/ based in Northants so not to far from Brummie land. I wasn't there when Ian did the survey. He emailed me with pictures of a couple of small points of concern before I even got the detailed report (it was very detailed and included a valuation) was happy to discuss his report over the phone, he even went back to the boat a few days later to check the boat yard were doing the blacking correctly. We were very pleased with his service.

 

Hope this helps

We were also very happy with Ian Jennings. Not sure how far he would be prepared to travel though.

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Peter Brookes is based near there. Did a survey for me this summer and was excellent.

 

Personally I would try to be there. You will learn a lot... First boat I bought ended up having massive problems, and while I don't blame the surveyor for not finding them, if I had been there with him I may have asked the right question and uncovered the damage...

 

Best of luck to you!

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Craig Allen gets my recommendation as well. Very helpful and honest and he even knocked a bit off the survey price cos he was please with how straight forward the job was for him.

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We ended up using a surveyor from Rugby and I cannot say enough how much I regret this decision, in fact, the whole purchasing experience ended up being a complete nightmare thanks to his incredibly inept survey and the incredibly deceitful chandlery.

We paid £780 for the survey, FYI for any out there looking for a survey, that is far too much and if you think you're paying that much because the surveyor claims years of experience, think again.

Our money would have been better spent buying our own ultrasonic reader to get the depth of the hull as that was the only part of the survey that was of any use. The surveyor was grumpy and clearly tired and the broker from the chandlers didn't help by his non-stop chattering and continually hovering over everything he did, which to be fair, would make his job incredibly uncomfortable, but we paid him a hell of a lot of money so he should have bucked up and done the job anyway. Instead he pointed out ridiculous things and missed rather important life-threatening items. The main one of which was the 3" of corroded chimney, he wrote this in as a suggestion (the lowest level of importance listed in a standard report which means it's something you may want to get fixed at some point) rather than an urgent recommendation (something needing fixed asap, ie. before the boat is used), and despite standing next to the corroded chimney for over 20 minutes while he felt the need to point out the potential risk of leaking from the wooden windows, he said nothing about the chimney and didn't point this out to us at all. We scanned through the report for all the urgent recommendations and recommendations but knew we couldn't afford the low level suggestions at the point of purchase, so left them. We almost killed ourselves with carbon monoxide and fire risk because of this oversight, and when I went back to the surveyor to call him on this, he told me I was mistaken on how chimney's work. We had a welder, Martyn Jones, who was also a qualified boat builder came and look at the chimney and confirmed, not only was it a danger of carbon monoxide but because of the level of corrosion it meant the heat was escaping onto the wooden ceiling of the boat meaning the entire boat could have gone up in flames. So no, I didn't misunderstand how chimney's worked. You simply ignore modern day health and safety and have clearly never known anyone to die from carbon monoxide, I have, so would have appreciated not having to pay you nearly 1K for you to risk my life. Of course we tried to take the complaint further but the regulatory bodies in this country are a complete joke and so he continues to provide expensive surveys with outdated health and safety ideas for others.

He also missed the horrific plumbing. Mind you, he claimed his surveys were to take a superficial look, but with a Philips head screwdriver I discovered more in ten minutes then he did in his half a day 'investigation' and I didn't have to tear anything apart. The plumbing, which was done in a rather spaghetti style design, had a wet room style shower added to it. The brokers/chandlery had convinced the grieving widow who was selling our boat after her husband suddenly passed away, that she needed a shower in the boat in order to sell it and this was the best way forward. Well our surveyor did point out that a wet room on a narrowboat was a bad idea -though his word was worth little at this point. Martyn Jones and a neighbour, who had built his boat himself, agreed with this. Our original plan meant renovating quite a lot of the plumbing and electrical anyhow, so we thought best to start our plans renovating here. (So sadly the 'repairs' which cost the widow thousands, were for nothing). Turned out to be a pretty good idea as the drain for the shower was not on correctly and water was leaking under the floor. Not only this, but a more thorough look from our surveyor should have spotted that there was a whole in the floor itself next to the toilet, so the room wasn't even water tight to begin with.

All in all, my experience in getting a survey and buying a boat was very very poor and if I had it to do over again, I don't think I'd bother with a survey at all. It'll be a long long time before I hire anyone to do any work on my boat now. Sadly it seems there are very few trustworthy people involved on the waterways, and no accountability for those who are ripping people off. 

Edited by Athy
Removing names

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8 minutes ago, Lise77 said:

All in all, my experience in getting a survey and buying a boat was very very poor and if I had it to do over again, I don't think I'd bother with a survey at all. It'll be a long long time before I hire anyone to do any work on my boat now. Sadly it seems there are very few trustworthy people involved on the waterways, and no accountability for those who are ripping people off. 

Sorry you had such a bad experience and hope you are now able to enjoy your boat.

I do know how you feel being the victim of bad "Engineers". Sadly too many cowboys about, some trading from posh marinas, where I assumed I was safe.

Sadly I can't name them, which is fully understandable.

:(

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That is a horrible catalogue of poor advice and professional help that you have had. The only suggestion I can make is that you look upon it as philosophically as possible and realise how much you have had to learn in a short time. My first buying experience with a narrow boat was similar to yours and it taught me some lessons but at considerable expense. Hopefully your boat is slowly becoming les of a pain and more of a pleasure to be in by now?

 

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Thanks for the empathy, just wanted to tell our tale to both name and shame as well as put it out there to help others from falling into the same trap. I do wish there was somewhere people could go to for some accountability, but it seems the only thing we can do is come on here and share with others so hopefully this post will help someone.

 

3 hours ago, Stilllearning said:

Hopefully your boat is slowly becoming les of a pain and more of a pleasure to be in by now?

 


Sadly no, seems to be going from bad to worse and now have no running water (had to turn it off when the pump and calorifier started leaking) and leaking drainage pipes to add more fun. On here today to find diy directions at how to fix some of our mounting issues on our own, quickly...I'm sure we'll get it sorted eventually, looking forward to that day, but until then we're baking in the hottest weather I've ever experienced in this country without any water. Could have definitely used that money wasted on the survey now, that's for sure!

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Yes sadly one has to keep one's lips buttoned about incompetent surveys, or surveys written to please the marina/brokerage people. Much as I have wanted to say exactly what I thought of two people who ripped me off back in the late 90s, the legal fees made it impossible.

It sounds like the plumbing is a nightmare, and without being able to know from here, ripping out and starting again is probably the best. Yes easy for me to say and hard for you to do! Good luck.

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It's like working with solicitors or any professional person -

You have to give specific instructions as to what you want done

 To most customers - they just want a hull survey and that's what you get. A traditional surveyor (and there few of them left) may ask 'what else' - but if there's no empathy between you /him or her, you'll get the basic - especially if you say "keep the costs down".

Peeps on here say "attend the survey and ask questions"  - customers say "I can't attend etc, etc"

NOBODY's going to stick their neck out and say 'such and such is wrong' if not asked.

It's your RESPONSIBILITY to be specific.

 

!Pah!

 

 

 

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Lise77.... did you use one of the surveyors recommended here? You use the words "name and shame" so others can avoid a similar experience, but I haven't seen the name of your surveyor.

Some might suggest not naming as it could be seen as defamatory, and you don't want to be defending something like that, even if you would likely win.

 

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56 minutes ago, Richard10002 said:

Lise77.... did you use one of the surveyors recommended here? You use the words "name and shame" so others can avoid a similar experience, but I haven't seen the name of your surveyor.

Some might suggest not naming as it could be seen as defamatory, and you don't want to be defending something like that, even if you would likely win.

 

The problem with naming and shaming is that not only will the aggrieved customer risk being sued for libel but that could also extend to the website.

Of course, it is a defence to make fair comment but the website owner cannot know if the comment is fair.

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