Thank you for clicking on today’s Property Surveying blog post. In our informative blog posts, we aim to tackle some of the more typical questions, often those that surround some of the more complicated and technical aspects of the surveying work we undertake.
Here at Stokemont, we are a general practice building surveying firm, however proudly specialise in party wall surveying. Some of the most typical questions that we are asked on a daily basis by building owners, adjoining owners, and general enquirers alike circulate around party wall surveyors.
In today’s Property Surveying blog post, we are going to be looking at party wall surveyors, what they are, what they do and importantly what it means if you are planning on undertaking construction works, or if your neighbour is planning on undertaking construction works.
First and foremost, there are three different forms of party wall surveyors, or put alternatively, three different types of appointment that a party wall surveyor can undertake.
Building Owner’s or Adjoining Owner’s Party Wall Surveyor
The first type of appointment that a party wall surveyor can take on, is one where he or she will act wholly on behalf of either the building owner, or the adjoining owner.
The party wall surveyor’s role will be to administer the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, ensuring that his or her appointing owner is fully protected.
If indeed the party wall surveyor is acting wholly on behalf of a building owner, while they are going to be appointed by the building owner, their role is still one of impartiality.
This effectively means that they aren’t going to act in the professional interest of their client in the same way that they would if they were a solicitor, or barrister.
Instead, party wall surveyors are very much going to be bound by the wording of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and the works that are taking place in the properties.
Agreed Party Wall Surveyor
An agreed party wall surveyor appointment is much like that of a two party wall surveyor appointment. However, rather than acting on behalf of one of the respective owners, the building owner or the building owner, the party wall surveyor will act jointly on behalf of both the building owner and the adjoining owner.
As previously set out in the point above, a party wall surveyor’s role is one of impartiality. This means that they are able to sufficiently and smoothly act on behalf of both respective owners without there being any form of bias, prejudice, or issue.
The party wall surveyor is going to undertake all of the normal procedures and roles that he would if he were acting on behalf of one of the owners. The only difference, being that he will do it in a joint capacity on behalf of both respective owners.
The ultimate conclusion of the party wall surveyor’s role is going to be to agree a party wall award. A party wall award being the legal document which best protects the adjoining owner, while also preparing the building owner to be able to commence their proposed construction works.
Third Party Wall Surveyor
The final type of appointment that a party wall surveyor can take on is that of a third surveyor.
A third surveyor is in place and has been selected on every two surveyor appointment.
This effectively means that when there are both a building owner’s party wall surveyor, and an adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor in place, a third surveyor at some stage in the procedures, often at the very start, would have been selected by both of the surveyors respectively.
The third surveyor’s role is one of resolution.
The third surveyor is effectively in place to resolve any dispute that can arise between any combination of the respective owners (building owner and adjoining owner) or party wall surveyors respectively.
The third surveyor is going to be selected up until the time that he is called upon to resolve a matter that is in dispute.
The best way to consider a third surveyor is that they are the third point of a tribunal process and effectively resolve issue should it or if it arises.
In the event that a third surveyor referral takes place, the respective owners will then bear the costs risks associated with the referral, whereby the side who loses the referral will find themselves liable for the fees in the event that the third surveyor sides with the other party.
It is therefore important to bear in mind that third surveyor referrals do carry a costs risk with them, as well as the normal stresses that come with formal procedures of this type.
Irrespective of the appointment of an agreed party wall surveyor, or a surveyor acting on behalf of the building owner or adjoining owner.
The party wall surveying procedures are always going to be somewhat the same, and generally speaking will include the following points and procedures.
The party wall surveyor is going to review the drawings both from the perspective of the building owner’s property and adjoining owner’s property.
From the building owner’s property they are going to be asking questions akin to information clarification.
From the adjoining owner’s property they are going to be looking at the works from the perspective of that structure, ensuring the risks are as low as they can be.
Party Wall Notice Service
If the party wall surveyor is acting on behalf of the building owner, they are likely to also serve the Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner.
The Party Wall Notice is the start of the party wall process and ultimately invoke the Act upon the adjoining owner, giving them the legal right to dissent and appoint a party wall surveyor of their choosing.
Schedule of Condition Reports
Prior to the construction works taking place, it is convention for the building owner’s party wall surveyor to undertake a Schedule of Condition report.
Schedule of Condition report is going to fully set out the pre-works condition of the adjoining owner’s property, ensuring that the condition is fully recorded. Meaning, if that there is any allegation of damage or issue, it is going to be very straightforward and simple for the party wall surveyor to determine if indeed that damage is new.
Agreement of Party Wall Award
Party Wall Awards, also commonly referred to as Party Wall Agreements are the conclusion of the party wall procedures.
The Party Wall Award will fully set out all of the works that are taking place, and ultimately give the building owner the legal right to commence the work without further formality or delay.
Importantly, for adjoining owners, the Party Wall Award also acts as the contract, or vessel that fully protects them in the event of issue.
Party Wall Awards once served will give the building owner rights to progress works.
Party Wall Awards will also usually include all of the information that has formed part of the surveyor’s review, such as drawings, Schedule of Condition reports, method statements, working hours and so on.
We have got a number of other blogs on Party Wall Awards if you would like to review those.
If you would like to discuss your party wall surveying requirement with our team of experienced and qualified RICS building surveyors and party wall surveyors, please feel free to give us a call today and we will be more than happy to assist and advise you.