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RICS Party Wall Surveyors

Aug 4, 2022

In today’s party wall surveying blogpost topic we are going to be looking at party wall surveying procedures and in particular an adjoining owner’s response when they have been served with a Party Wall Notice. 

If a building owner is planning on undertaking works to their property which fall within the realm of the Party Wall etc Act 1996, they will need to serve a Party Wall Notice upon their neighbour and the adjoining owner a minimum of one or two months in advance of undertaking their proposed works.

The Party Wall Notice responses that are open to an adjoining owner are as follows:

Consent to the Party Wall Notice

Should they consent to the Party Wall Notice, they will effectively be giving the building owner the legal right to commence the works without any of the party wall surveying procedures being implemented or followed.

Dissent to the Party Wall Notice

Should they dissent to the Party Wall Notice, they will effectively have two response options open to them, the first being that they can dissent and appoint their own Party Wall Surveyor to act wholly on their behalf. 

The second, being that they can allow and agree in the building owner’s Party Wall Surveyor to act impartially on behalf of both themselves and their neighbour. 

A Party Wall Surveyor’s appointment is very much governed by Section 10 of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 which sets out as follows;

10. Resolution of Disputes

(1) Where a dispute arises or is deemed to have arisen between a building owner and an adjoining owner in respect of any matter connected with any work to which this Act relates either—

(a) both parties shall concur in the appointment of one surveyor (in this section referred to as an “agreed surveyor”); or

(b) each party shall appoint a surveyor and the two surveyors so appointed shall forthwith select a third surveyor (all of whom are in this section referred to as “the three surveyors”).

(2) All appointments and selections made under this section shall be in writing and shall not be rescinded by either party.

(3) If an agreed surveyor—

(a) refuses to act;

(b) neglects to act for a period of ten days beginning with the day on which either party serves a request on him;

(c) dies before the dispute is settled; or

(d) becomes or deems himself incapable of acting, the proceedings for settling such dispute shall begin de novo.

(4) If either party to the dispute—

(a) refuses to appoint a surveyor under subsection (1)(b), or

(b) neglects to appoint a surveyor under subsection (1)(b) for a period of ten days beginning with the day on which the other party serves a request on him, the other party may make the appointment on his behalf.

(5) If, before the dispute is settled, a surveyor appointed under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) by a party to the dispute dies, or becomes or deems himself incapable of acting, the party who appointed him may appoint another surveyor in his place with the same power and authority.

(6) If a surveyor—

(a) appointed under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) by a party to the dispute; or

(b) appointed under subsection (4) or (5),refuses to act effectively, the surveyor of the other party may proceed to act ex parte and anything so done by him shall be as effectual as if he had been an agreed surveyor.

(7) If a surveyor—

(a) appointed under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) by a party to the dispute; or

(b) appointed under subsection (4) or (5),neglects to act effectively for a period of ten days beginning with the day on which either party or the surveyor of the other party serves a request on him, the surveyor of the other party may proceed to act ex parte in respect of the subject matter of the request and anything so done by him shall be as effectual as if he had been an agreed surveyor.

(8) If either surveyor appointed under subsection (1)(b) by a party to the dispute refuses to select a third surveyor under subsection (1) or (9), or neglects to do so for a period of ten days beginning with the day on which the other surveyor serves a request on him—

(a) the appointing officer; or

(b )in cases where the relevant appointing officer or his employer is a party to the dispute, the Secretary of State,may on the application of either surveyor select a third surveyor who shall have the same power and authority as if he had been selected under subsection (1) or subsection (9).

(9)If a third surveyor selected under subsection (1)(b)—

(a) refuses to act;

(b) neglects to act for a period of ten days beginning with the day on which either party or the surveyor appointed by either party serves a request on him; or

(c) dies, or becomes or deems himself incapable of acting, before the dispute is settled,the other two of the three surveyors shall forthwith select another surveyor in his place with the same power and authority.

(10) The agreed surveyor or as the case may be the three surveyors or any two of them shall settle by award any matter—

(a)which is connected with any work to which this Act relates, and

(b) which is in dispute between the building owner and the adjoining owner.

(11) Either of the parties or either of the surveyors appointed by the parties may call upon the third surveyor selected in pursuance of this section to determine the disputed matters and he shall make the necessary award.

(12) An award may determine—

(a )the right to execute any work;

(b) the time and manner of executing any work; and

(c) any other matter arising out of or incidental to the dispute including the costs of making the award;but any period appointed by the award for executing any work shall not unless otherwise agreed between the building owner and the adjoining owner begin to run until after the expiration of the period prescribed by this Act for service of the notice in respect of which the dispute arises or is deemed to have arisen.

(13) The reasonable costs incurred in—

(a) making or obtaining an award under this section;

(b) reasonable inspections of work to which the award relates; and

(c) any other matter arising out of the dispute,shall be paid by such of the parties as the surveyor or surveyors making the award determine.

(14) Where the surveyors appointed by the parties make an award the surveyors shall serve it forthwith on the parties.

(15) Where an award is made by the third surveyor—

(a) he shall, after payment of the costs of the award, serve it forthwith on the parties or their appointed surveyors; and

(b) if it is served on their appointed surveyors, they shall serve it forthwith on the parties.

(16) The award shall be conclusive and shall not except as provided by this section be questioned in any court.

(17) Either of the parties to the dispute may, within the period of fourteen days beginning with the day on which an award made under this section is served on him, appeal to the county court against the award and the county court may—

(a) rescind the award or modify it in such manner as the court thinks fit; and

(b) make such order as to costs as the court thinks fit.

One of the peculiarities and, generally speaking, a widely known fact about party wall surveying procedures and the appointment of a Party Wall Surveyor, is that the phrase, ‘Party Wall Surveyor’ is actually broad and wide and effectively means that anyone can refer to themselves with this title.

In practise, what this means is that there is no formal qualification or even degree of experience that is required in order for someone to refer to themselves as a Party Wall Surveyor. 

This means that within the party wall profession there is a wide and varied range of Party Wall Surveyors in the market, ranging from those with qualification, those with experience, those with both, and in many cases, those without. 

Given that the party wall surveying procedures are a legal requirement that the building owners need to adhere to, here at Stokemont, we would advise that a Party Wall Surveyor’s selection and appointment is carefully considered and ultimately that any construction that is made is made to both a qualified and experienced Party Wall Surveyor. 

There are a number of different governing bodies within the industry that are a good starting point for experienced and qualified Party Wall Surveyors. 

The RICS

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors is by far the best starting point for any property professional, not only is it the world leading property governing body, it also has strict and robust procedures in place to ensure that its members are both experienced and qualified and adhere to the professional requirements in order to become a member and bear the designation AssocRICS, MRICS, or FRICS. 

The CIOB

The Chartered Institute of Building is another great starting point to locate an experienced and qualified surveyor, and will effectively ensure that you are getting a building surveyor who is a member of one of the leading property governing bodies with a special focus on England and Wales where the CIOB has its greatest dominance. 

There are a number of other governing bodies out there, however, these tend to be more in the realm of a club or a membership facility rather than a formal qualification.  In our experience here at Stokemont these tend to be the FPWS, or the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors, as well as a number of other varieties of party wall surveying clubs. 

Party Wall Surveyors are required to resolve disputes, and do so promptly, without confusion, and in a manner that would best aid the building owner’s proposed works. 

It is therefore key that they are not only well averse with the procedures as set out by the Party Wall etc Act 1996, however, they are also experienced on overall property matters as they are very much going to need to call upon that arsenal of knowledge in order to get a party wall agreed and over the line. 

If you are planning on undertaking party wall surveying works, or perhaps your neighbour is planning on undertaking party wall works, give our team of experienced and qualified surveyors at Stokemont a call today and we would be more than happy to assist and advise you.

Did you know that we also offer free advice in the form of telephone calls, video calls, and even on site meetings at our Baker Street office? If you would like to take us up on this offer and discuss your requirements with one of our surveyors, give us a call today

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