In this week’s instalment of our surveying blogpost, we are going to be taking a look at Party Wall Surveyors and in particular if the fees and costs that they charge are free.
Party Wall Surveyor Costs
One of the most typical questions that we find ourselves asked here at Stokemont is, who is liable for a Party Wall Surveyor’s fee?
Before we tackle that, it is important to note that party wall surveying procedures and Party Wall Surveyor costs are not free.
Under the legal requirements of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, it is for the building owner to bear the reasonable costs of the Party Wall Surveyor’s fees.
Different Types of Party Wall Surveyor Fees
The different types of party wall surveying fees that will, or could, become applicable will very much depend on the Party Wall Notice option that the adjoining owner selects.
In essence, the cost provisions of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 are very much in the hands of the adjoining owner once they have been served the Party Wall Notice.
Building Owner’s Party Wall Surveyor or Adjoining Owner’s Party Wall Surveyor
A building owner’s Party Wall Surveyor will apply when a building owner serves a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner, that adjoining owner dissenting the Party Wall Notice and selecting the appointment of their own Party Wall Surveyor.
In that instance, the Party Wall Surveyor that is appointed on behalf of the adjoining owner will then administer and agree the party wall surveying procedures of the building owner’s surveyor.
There will therefore be two different Party Wall Surveyors on board, as follows;
- Building owner’s Party Wall Surveyor
- Adjoining owner’s Party Wall Surveyor
Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 the building owner will need to bear both the reasonable fees of their Party Wall Surveyor, the building owner’s Party Wall Surveyor while also bearing the cost of the adjoining owner’s Party Wall Surveyor.
These two Party Wall Surveyors will be tasked with agreeing a Party Wall Award, that Party Wall Award ultimately giving the building owner the legal right to progress their works.
Importantly, also giving the adjoining owner the all necessary legal protections that the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 affords them.
Agreed Party Wall Surveyor
If the adjoining owner opts to dissent to the Party Wall Notice, with the agreement that the building owner can share and simultaneously use the same surveyor as them.
The Party Wall Surveyor’s appointment would then be called an Agreed Party Wall Surveyor’s appointment.
An Agreed Party Wall Surveyor is exactly the same as either a building owner’s Party Wall Surveyor or adjoining owner’s Party Wall Surveyor.
However, the distinct difference is that the single Agreed Party Wall Surveyor will act on behalf of both the building owner and the adjoining owner alike.
The Agreed Party Wall Surveyor’s role will be to administer the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 in the normal manner. However, the only difference this time being that they are administering it impartially and neutrally on behalf of both respective owners.
This is a distinct difference when compared to their appointment as a building owner’s Party Wall Surveyor or adjoining owner’s Party Wall Surveyor.
In essence, the Party Wall Surveyor will only act on behalf of one of the appointing owners.
An Agreed Party Wall Surveyor appointment offers a building owner cost efficiency. This cost efficiency is made up by the fact that they will only have to pay a single Party Wall Surveyor’s fees, as opposed to two different Party Wall Surveyor’s fees.
Many building owners will rightfully want to ensure that they can achieve an Agreed Party Wall Surveyor appointment.
However, it is important to note that an adjoining owner is very much in the driving seat when it comes to the agreement of this type of Party Wall Surveyor’s appointment.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that an adjoining owner does not need to give the building owner any reasoning or justification if indeed they opt to have their own separate Party Wall Surveyor on board.
The giveaway is in the name, an Agreed Party Wall Surveyor. You can only have an Agreed Party Wall Surveyor with the agreement of the adjoining owner.
Third Party Wall Surveyor
The final type of Party Wall Surveyor that can be applicable is that of a Third Party Wall Surveyor.
In fact, Third Party Wall Surveyors are nominated and selected in every scenario whereby there are two different Party Wall Surveyors, the building owner’s Party Wall Surveyor and the adjoining owner’s Party Wall Surveyor.
However, unlike a building owner’s Party Wall Surveyor or adjoining owner’s Party Wall Surveyor, a Third Party Wall Surveyor will only be selected whereby the other two respective Party Wall Surveyors are appointed.
The distinct difference here is that a Party Wall Surveyor in a Third Party Wall Surveyor capacity will only ever be called upon in the situation whereby there is a dispute or disagreement between any of the following parties;
- Building owner
- Adjoining owner
- Building owner’s Party Wall Surveyor
- Adjoining owner’s Party Wall Surveyor
Any two of these four different parties can all elect and decide to refer a matter to the Third Party Wall Surveyor.
It will then be the Third Party Wall Surveyor’s legal duty to resolve that dispute.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is forward-thinking insofar that it does recognise that there are going to be scenarios whereby disputes and disagreement will arise between respective owners.
If the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 hadn’t accounted for a Third Party Wall Surveyor, in essence, it would mean that whenever there is a stalemate or dispute between the parties, the matter would effectively cease to progress.
This could be a significantly challenging situation to overcome as effectively it would thwart the building owner’s planned proposals.
In all reality, Third Party Wall Surveyor referrals are incredibly rare. For the hundreds of Party Wall Surveyor appointments that we take on each and every year here at Stokemont, there are usually less than a handful of cases that find themselves being referred to a Third Party Wall Surveyor.
Generally speaking, building owner’s and adjoining owner’s Party Wall Surveyors alike, will very much avoid Third Party Wall Surveyor referrals mainly because Third Party Wall Surveyor referrals carry a cost risk.
This cost risk meaning that either the building owner or adjoining owner are ultimately going to have to bear the Third Party Wall Surveyor’s costs in resolving the matter at hand and ultimately the referral made to them.
The other cost that owners will often overlook is that both the building owner’s Party Wall Surveyor and adjoining owner’s Party Wall Surveyor are going to reasonably incur fees in making referrals to the Third Party Wall Surveyor.
These fees will equally be part of the referral and are likely to be determined as part of the Third Party Wall Surveyor’s resolution.
Party wall surveying procedures are indeed the cost that building owner’s need to be well aware of.
If a building owner has, or were, to overlook party wall surveyors they are likely to find themselves in a scenario whereby they have got unaccounted for and unplanned costs in the runup to their construction work.
This can not only be a significant stumbling block to progressing the works, it could also put their financial plans out of kilter.
Fixed Party Wall Surveying Costs
Here at Stokemont we do offer fixed party wall surveying fees. These fixed fees apply to all building owner Party Wall Surveyor and agreed Party Wall Surveyor jobs that we take on.
You can take a closer look at these fixed fees on our website.
It is important to note that we would advise that any costs that a building owner is concerned about are validated through sending in your drawings. Our Party Wall Surveyors will then be able to review those and give you confirmation of exactly the type of fee and costs that you are likely to incur through the party wall surveying procedures.
We are unable to offer fixed party wall surveying costs when it comes to Third Party Wall Surveyor referrals or adjoining owner’s Party Wall Surveyor instructions mainly because it is impossible to know the likely amount of time that we are going to need to spend on the matter.
If you would like to discuss this blogpost in greater detail, or any of our other blogposts, please feel free to get in touch with us today. We will be more than happy to assist and advise you.