Thank you for clicking on today’s blog post. We are going to be looking at party wall surveying and in particular, the typical and average costs that a party wall surveyor will charge.
Through our weekly blog post topics we aim to look at some of the more confusing and complicated areas of the surveying profession, with the aim of hopefully helping clarify matters for our clients and enquirers alike.
Party wall surveyors are required for a variety of differing types of work, to all properties within England and Wales.
These works are broadly set out as follows:
Building walls up to, or astride, the boundary line
Under Section 1 of the Party Wall Etc Act 1996, if a building owner is undertaking works to their property and those works will include the construction of a new wall up to, or astride, the boundary line, they are legally required to serve a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner, a minimum of one month in advance of the works commencing.
Commonly, these types of works are going to be new walls, usually flank walls of side, rear or front extensions.
These walls are obviously be set as close to the boundary line as possible, thereby maximising the building owner’s ground floor area post construction.
Works directly to a party wall, party fence wall, or party structure
Works directly to a party fence wall, party wall or party structure are dealt with under Section 2 of the Party Wall Etc Act 1996. This section of the Act is one of the largest. However it effectively means that cutting into, away from, flashing into, exposing or weather proofing a party wall is going to require the service of a Party Wall Notice, a minimum of two months of the works commencing.
However, the Act goes further, to also include garden walls. These are referred to as party fence walls. Under the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 a building owner planning on undertaking any works to a garden wall, potentially its demolition, rebuilding, raising it, or simply maintaining it, will need to go through the requirements of the Party Wall Etc Act 1996.
Finally, this section deals with any works to a flat’s ceiling or floor. This is where the phrase party structure comes into place. A party structure is simply put, the floor or ceiling that horizontally separates two respective flats, e.g. the ground floor flat and the flat above that being the first floor flat.
If either of these owners plan to undertake any works to their ceiling or their floor, then they will need to go through the Party Wall Etc Act 1996.
Excavation within 6m
The final section that the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 deals with is excavations within 6m of an adjoining property. If a building owner is planning to undertake these works, then they will have a legal requirement to serve a Party Wall Notice upon their neighbouring owner, the adjoining owner, a minimum of one month in advance of the works commencing.
In order for this section of the Act to apply, the excavations will not only need to be within 6m, however, importantly, they will also need to be deeper than the neighbouring foundations. Commonly, these works come into play when there are excavations for new walls and the foundations which support those walls.
Commonly, we are asked how party wall surveyors are able to assess everything if excavations are covered by the Party Wall Etc Act 1996.
Put simply, the vast majority of property stock in England and Wales was built around the turn of the century and the 1930s.
These types of properties had notoriously shallow foundations, circa 300-600mm deep.
Modern building regulations has issued the fault and issue with these shallow foundations. They therefore now require foundations to be a minimum of 1m deep. It therefore creates the scenario whereby almost all new foundations are going to fall within the realm of the Party Wall Etc Act 1996 and in particular, Section 6 which deals with adjacent excavation.
Now that we know when a party wall surveyor is required, let’s now look at the common costs that can come into play.
Generally speaking, there are two different fee structures that party wall surveyors will adhere to. These will very much depend on the type of instruction they take on.
We are now going to look at these in a little bit more detail.
Acting as a building owner’s party wall surveyor
If a party wall surveyor is going to act as a building owner’s party wall surveyor, they are going to be quoting for the job at the outset, having reviewed the drawings, assessed who the party wall works are notifiable to, and looked at the risks and scenarios that can come into play through those works.
The party wall surveyor will then provide the potential client with a fixed fee quotation, taking into account all the different scenarios that can come into play.
These fixed costs are going to include:
Party Wall Notices which on average, will range from £25-150 per notice served.
Schedule of Condition Reports which on average, will range from £150-1,000 per property inspected.
Party Wall Award fees which on average, will range from £250 up to £1,500 per Party Wall Award that is required.
Building owner surveyor fees will be fixed from the time they are sent to the client.
The next fee structure is a touch different, and unlike a building owner’s party wall surveyor’s fee quote, is not going to be fixed, and instead will be on a variable basis.
Acting as an adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor
Acting as an adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor is a completely different discipline. First and foremost, the adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor is not going to be in a position or able to provide a fixed quote at the outset.
Instead, they are going to present the building owner’s party wall surveyor with their hourly rate at the start of the job. This hourly rate will then be reasonably applied to all of the necessary time that it takes the party wall surveyor to administer the procedures as set out by the Party Wall Etc Act 1996.
These procedures are going to include reviewing drawings, reviewing Party Wall Notices, undertaking Schedule of Condition reports and ultimately agreeing the Party Wall Award.
Once all matters have been agreed, the adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor will then present their party wall surveyor’s fee to the building owner’s party wall surveyor. It is the building owner’s surveyor’s legal duty to determine whether that fee is reasonable or not. If it is deemed to be reasonable by the building owner’s party wall surveyor, it will then form part of the Party Wall Award.
Equally, if it is deemed unreasonable, the two party wall surveyors will then enter into a discussion to resolve and agree on a mediated party wall surveyor’s fee.
As a ballpark estimate, an adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor’s fees are likely to start around the £500 mark, going up to well over £3,000 if the job is of a significant complexity.
Party wall surveying fees are one of the hot topics in discussion, both online and within the profession alike.
It is important to note that party wall surveying fees are going to vary, based on the types of work that are taking place, the locations of the property, the quality of the information to hand and ultimately the manner in which the party wall procedures are administered.
If you are concerned about party wall surveyor fees, we would advise getting in touch with our team of experienced and qualified RICS Party Wall Surveyors here at Stokemont. We are very proud to be able to provide 30 minutes free, no strings advice on a daily basis to a number of enquirers. If you’d like to take us up on this offer, all you need to do is give us a shout and we will be more than happy to assist and advise.
Equally, if you wanted us to review drawings and provide a fixed cost quotation, or potentially act as your party wall surveyor, simply pop over the information via our Contact page and we will review those and get back to you without delay.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post. We take great pride in helping both our clients and the general public better understand party wall surveying procedures and hope we have achieved that on this occasion.