If you are in the market for a used houseboat, it is crucial to hire a qualified surveyor. Hiring one is simple, and worth many times the price you pay for the professional's opinion. You may not like what you hear once he has completed his job aboard a boat you have already fallen for, but heed what his advice and you'll avoid that sour taste that arises after so many hasty used-houseboat purchases.
All you have to do to locate a surveyor in your area is call the National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) at 800-822-6267, or the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) at 800-244-9077 for a listing. You might be tempted to use the broker's, the insurer's or even the seller's surveyor, but get your own. You want to make sure the surveyor represents you and your interests alone, and does a thorough job of getting to the meat of the matter.
Once you've selected a few surveyor-candidates from your region, start asking questions.
* Is he experienced in surveying houseboats?
* Is he qualified to survey mechanical and electrical systems as well as the boat's hull?
* Is he insured for any damage caused during the survey, as required by some boat yards?
* Will he provide both a fair market value and a replacement cost, as required by most lenders and insurance companies?
* If the boat is at a distant location, will he be willing to provide a verbal survey over the telephone to make sure the craft being considered is worth your trip to see it in person?
Other than in the latter case, try to be present when the survey is performed, or at least there at the end so that you can go over the boat and any questions you have first-hand with the surveyor. Once you have his recommendation in hand, compare it to the asking price, weigh the pluses and minuses, talk it over for the umpteenth time with your spouse, and for once follow the facts rather than your heart. It's the surest way to avoid the lemons and locate that floating "cream-puff" of your dreams.