In this week’s Property Blogpost, we are going to be discussing disputes that can occur between Building Owners, or Adjoining Owners, commonly known as the Appointing Owners, and their respective Party Wall Surveyor.
This is a more common scenario than you would imagine, and generally speaking if the situation occurs whereby an owner has some form of disagreement with their party wall surveyor, there are a couple of different options that they can lean upon.
Third Surveyor Consultation
The first option is the most obvious, the Owner who has the issue can discuss the matter directly with the Third Surveyor, usually in an informal phone call type manner, getting valuable advice, perhaps sounding out if indeed the position their Surveyor is taking is indeed a reasonable one, a conventional one, and a just one.
If they get a favourable ear from the Third Surveyor, at that stage they can then look to perhaps making a formal referral to the third surveyor, in an attempt to get a formal position on the dispute via a Third Surveyor’s Award.
Third Surveyor referrals do come with a cost risk and potential timing issue, therefore if the matter is of an urgent nature, or the Owner is particularly conscious to ensure costs are a kept to a minimum, this may not be the most favourable option.
Discussing the Matter with the Other Party Wall Surveyor
The option the Appointing Owners will have, is to discuss it with the other Party Wall Surveyor who is a party to the job.
In any two-Surveyor scenario, where there is a Surveyor acting on behalf of the Building Owner, and a further different Surveyor acting on behalf of the Adjoining Owner, the Party Wall Surveyors have a legal duty to be impartial.
This means that in effect either Owner can contact the other Surveyor for discussion and potentially advice, which could go a long way to avoiding a potential Third Surveyor dispute.
The issue the Owners will have, is that if they have gone for an Agreed Surveyor option, they do not have the option to discuss with the counterpart, nor do they have the option to discuss with a Third Surveyor.
Governing Body Complaint
If the Owners were to find themselves in a situation whereby they potentially had gone for an Agreed Surveyor option, and therefore could not rely on the above two suggestions, the only real option they have is to contact the Party Wall Surveyor’s governing body, and go through the normal complaint handling procedures of that Surveyor’s firm.
This can be a potentially slow one, and time-consuming for the Owner, as they will likely need to provide the governing body with a lot of information validating the claim of issue, which could be in itself a major task.
The key thing to bear in mind if you find yourself in this type of situation, is do not panic, we would always advise try to speak to the Surveyor with whom the dispute exists. More often than not, minor issues can usually get ironed out through discussion. The key thing is to ensure that every attempt is made to not only understand the Surveyor’s position, but also understand it in connection with the works. If you are planning on undertaking works to your property, and you would like to discuss Party Wall procedures with our Surveyors, get in touch with us now.
If your neighbour is planning on undertaking works at their property, and you believe that they fall within the realm of the Party Wall etc Act 1996, give our team of experienced, fully-qualified surveyors a call now, and we will be more than happy to assist you.