In this week’s Property Surveying blog, we are going to be looking at party wall surveying procedures.
The focus of this blog post will be on party wall surveyor appointments, when they are needed, applicable and the various different types of party wall surveyor appointments that can exist.
A party wall surveyor is the formal referral for the property surveyor who will assist in resolving disputes under Section 10 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
What is a party wall dispute?
A party wall dispute occurs when a building owner serves a Party Wall Notice upon an adjoining owner.
In receipt of that Party Wall Notice, the adjoining owner will opt to dissent.
The dissent meaning that they want the input of a party wall surveyor.
The dissent gives rise to the Act’s formal referral of a dispute.
Why do I need a party wall surveyor?
When a dissent to a Party Wall Notice occurs and dispute follows, from the eyes of the Act a party wall surveyor will need to be formally appointed to resolve that dispute.
What are the different party wall surveying roles?
There are four different types of party wall surveyor roles that exist within the framework of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
We are now going to take a closer look at these, to help you fully understand the context and gain a better understanding of what each different type of appointment covers.
Building Owner’s Party Wall Surveyor
The first type of appointment that can take place under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is the appointment of a building owner’s party wall surveyor.
The building owner’s party wall surveyor will be acting solely on behalf of the building owner.
Commonly these roles will include:
- Service of Party Wall Notices
- Completing a Schedule of Condition report
- Agreeing a Party Wall Award
Adjoining Owner’s Party Wall Surveyor
In the scenario whereby the adjoining owner has been served with a Party Wall Notice, with the response option they select being a dissent, they will have the option to appoint their own party wall surveyor.
Should they select and opt for this option, that party wall surveyor’s appointment will be referred to as an adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor.
The adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor will very much undertake the same activities as the building owner’s party wall surveyor.
Albeit, they are going to be undertaking these activities on behalf of the adjoining owner, as opposed to the building owner.
Generally speaking, the adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor is going to be reviewing Party Wall Notices, attending Schedule of Condition report, and importantly reviewing and ultimately agreeing the Party Wall Award.
Agreed Party Wall Surveyor
Upon receipt of the Party Wall Notice, as set out above, the adjoining owner does indeed have the legal right to appoint a party wall surveyor.
However, that doesn’t mean that they have to appoint their own and a separate party wall surveyor.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 does give them legal right to put forward an agreed party wall surveyor. Or, alternatively, agree in the appointment of the building owner’s party wall surveyor as an agreed party wall surveyor.
An agreed party wall surveyor effectively means that there is a single party wall surveyor who will act on behalf of both the building owner and adjoining owner respectively.
The party wall surveyor’s role will be to undertake all of the same activities and duties as if he were acting on behalf of one of the respective owners.
The only key difference being that he is actually acting on behalf of both of them.
One of the most typical follow on questions that we find ourselves asked here at Stokemont, is whether an agreed party wall surveyor can be impartial.
It is a reasonable question to have and ask. Many will liken a party wall surveyor’s statutory appointment to that of a solicitor and client relationship.
In fact, this is not the case at all.
The party wall surveyor’s duties is to administer the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
They are to do this neutrally and without biais to either building owner or adjoining owner.
In practice this effectively means that the party wall surveyor is realistically going to be acting on behalf of the building owner’s property and adjoining owner’s property, as opposed to the building owner or adjoining owner themselves.
In adopting this clinical approach to impartiality, the surveyor will ensure that they are not driven by any bias towards either of the respective owners.
Third Party Wall Surveyor
The final type of party wall surveyor appointment is that of a third party wall surveyor.
A third party wall surveyor will be in place on every single surveying job whereby there is both a building owner’s party wall surveyor and adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor.
The third surveyor is often going to be selected at the very start of the process.
The overall aim being to ensure that there is a dispute resolution procedure in place whereby if those two party wall surveyors are to disagree on anything, the job is not stalled, delayed or halted pending resolution of that agreement.
This means that the procedures can indeed progress, even if there is a total stalemate between the two respective party wall surveyors.
One of the most typical misunderstandings about a third party wall surveyor appointment is that one of the owners is going to need to bear the cost when that surveyor is appointed.
The only time that the building owner or adjoining owner are going to be remotely liable for potential cost in respect of the third surveyor is if indeed a referral is made to him.
In indeed a third surveyor referral is made, at that stage it will become the third surveyor’s duty to not only resolve that dispute.
However, also apportion the reasonable costs that the third surveyor has incurred in fulfilling his duties of dispute resolution.
While third surveyor referrals are an altogether relatively rare instruction, there can be instances whereby they are the only realistic option to get the matter resolved without issue and delay.
We hope this blog post has been a helpful read and given you a full understanding of the different type of party wall surveying appointments.
We have also got a number of video FAQs available on our party wall surveying website pages which we would advise having a quick look at.
These are going to give you a quick and easy answer to some of the more typical questions we find ourselves asked on a daily basis.
If you would like to discuss this blog post, party wall surveyor appointments, or any other party wall matter with our team of experienced and qualified party wall surveyors, please feel free to get in touch with us today, you can do this via our contact page. We look forward to hearing from you.