BMS Narrowboat Surveys Explained
There is no single independent governing or regulatory body covering marine surveyors. In effect this means that literally any old body can set themselves up as a specialist and start dishing out advice.
There are however professional bodies that do voluntarily regulated their members through examinations, codes of practise and regular inspections. Here in the UK there are two main organisations whom the majority of surveyors are members of one, the other or both.
These are the International Institute of Marine Surveyors and the Yacht Designers and Surveyors Association. Members are normally qualified and hold Professional Indemnity insurance and are subject to CPD training.
Marine Surveyors are not always Boat Safety Examiners and BSS examiners are not always Marine Surveyors. Bare this in mind when contacting them for services and advice.
Surveyors can provide condition reports and hull surveys whereas, unless they are members of the BSS, they cannot provide the essential boat safety certificate upon which the issue of your license is dependent.
There are generally three types of narrowboat surveys available: full survey; hull only; in water survey. Following any survey, you should receive a report with any recommendations of work to be undertaken, plus importantly any rectifications required before purchase. The report will enable the potential narrowboat buyer to negotiate the purchase price. Each surveyor may offer a slightly different service but as a general guide this is what can be expected, together with associated costs.
Full Condition (Pre-purchase)
This is a detailed inspection, usually lasting a whole day, whilst the narrow boat is out of the water. The survey covers the hull, structure, electrical and mechanical installations. The survey will include checking the structural condition of the vessel using ultrasonic testing equipment. Will also assess pit depths, corrosion and build quality. The survey will assess whether the vessel meets all the required standards and regulations. Cost for a full BMS survey can start from £475
Hull Only Survey
This survey is often used by narrow boat owners to understand the condition of their boats hull. Although as an absolute minimum this should be considered when purchasing a second-hand narrow boat as over-plating a narrowboat is a costly exercise. The inspection usually takes half a day to complete, whilst the boat is out of the water. The survey will include checking the structural condition of the vessel using ultrasonic testing equipment, hammer testing, pit depths, corrosion and initial build quality. The inspection should also check the stern gear, weed hatch and freeboard. Cost of a BMS hull inspection start from £300.
In Water Survey
As the name suggests, this survey is completed whilst the narrow boat is in the water and will check the structural condition of the narrowboat and paint coating above the waterline only. This survey will take approximately half a day and will also include checks on the engine, on-board systems and interior fit out. This type of survey is usually commissioned if the narrow boat is relatively new; has had a recent hull survey or it is not possible to lift the narrow boat from the water. An in water BMS survey can cost upwards of £400