Complying with the rules of the Party Wall Act 1996 is a prerequisite if you want to make alterations to the wall you share with your neighbours or undertake excavations close to their property. You will need to serve them with written notice of your intention to carry out those works.
How it Works
The notice period varies from one to two months depending on the type of works required. Upon receiving the notice, the adjoining owners have the following three options:
- Approve the proposed work, eliminating the need for any further action. It is, however, recommended to record the condition of the neighbour’s property before commencing the project.
- Disagree with the notice but agree upon the party wall surveyor that you have appointed for the works.
- Disagree with the notice and appoint their own surveyor.
Now, you may be wondering about the party wall surveying fee.
Who is Liable to Pay the Party Wall Surveying Fee?
In any typical situation where you, as a building owner, require a party wall agreement to be signed, you must pay the cost of the party wall surveyor/s appointed. And it makes sense too. Since you are the one undertaking the works, your neighbours shouldn’t have to cover its cost. Please note that in most cases, the building owner is required to pay the fee of the neighbour’s surveyor as well.
The Fees of Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor
You might indeed have to pay for the adjoining owner’s surveyor but your surveyor will help you in determining if their charges are reasonable. The fee of the adjoining owner’s surveyor typically depends on a number of factors. These include:
1. The Distance between the Worksite and Surveyor’s Office
Generally, the longer it takes for the surveyor to reach the worksite, the higher their fees will be. Usually what happens is that the building owner’s surveyor comes up with an estimated travel time while taking into account important factors like roadworks, congestion, and other unexpected events. This is a safe way to ensure that the adjoining owner’s surveyor’s fee doesn’t get out of control.
2. The Complexity of the Works Required
If your proposed works involve complex tasks, the adjoining owner may decide to consult with additional experts to evaluate the specifications and design drawings. This is especially common if you’re undertaking big projects like basement evacuations. In such circumstances, the adjoining owner may seek the assistance and guidance of checking engineer.
3. The Quality of Building Owner’s Surveyor’s Work
Another crucial factor is the quality of the Draft Award document the building owner’ surveyor prepares and the effort they put in for the schedule of condition of the adjoining owner’s property. Needless to say that if your surveyor does a good job in the sense that they produce a detailed, accurate Party wall Agreement document, the adjoining owner’s surveyor will ultimately have to put in fewer efforts. With fewer things to do, they’ll be able to finish the job in less time.
4. The Information and Resources the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor Has Access to
Again, the quantity and quality of the information the adjoining owner’s surveyor has access to plays an important role in determining reasonable charges for their service. The more resources they have access to, the less time it will take for them to complete the task.
Normally, the adjoining owner’s surveyor proposes an hourly rate, and it is for your surveyor to accept or reject that rate. In addition, he will likely go through the adjoining owner’s surveyor’s timesheet to check whether their fee is fair or unreasonable and convey this to you.
The Adjoining Owner’s surveyor can assist in keeping fees down if he is able to call upon the resources of a less experienced colleague at a lower hourly rate to undertaken some of the ‘leg-work’ such as attending site inspections and reviewing the schedule of condition record. Incidentally the same principal applies when a surveyor acting for the Building Owner is providing a fee proposal.
Understanding the Timesheet of the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor
Considering that each project is unique, there’s no definite answer to how the adjoining owner’s surveyor’s timesheet looks like. This is also why it is impossible and perhaps unfair to decide a fixed quote for both the surveyors’ fee upfront.
That being said, the following are the common tasks included in the timesheet of the adjoining owner’s surveyor.
- Reviewing the initial notice and any design drawings received
- Exchanging the appointment letters and appointing a third surveyor if need be
- Assessing the condition of the adjoining owner’s property and helping the building owner’s surveyor in carrying out the Schedule of Condition
- Reviewing the draft of Award and Schedule of Condition
- Coming to an agreement with the building owner’s surveyor for any outstanding points
- Going through and approving the fair copies of the Award
- Overviewing the Schedule of Condition after task completion
Please note that the last two tasks on the list are done only after the parties have agreed on a fee. Therefore, the time for the completion of these tasks is an estimate.
Party Wall Surveying Fee Negotiations
As mentioned earlier, the building owner’s surveyor is responsible for checking the adjoining owner’s surveyor’s timesheet to decide how much they should get paid. From unacceptable commute price to unfair hourly rates, there can be a variety of reasons why the building owner’s surveyor rejects the proposed fee of the other surveyor. This ultimately leads to negotiation, which may go on for several rounds.
In case the two surveyors are unable to reach an agreement and finalise a negotiated price, a third surveyor may be brought into the picture. This appointed surveyor acts as a neutral party and impartial arbitrator to decide a fair fee for the surveyors. That being said, people usually don’t like to involve a third surveyor in order to keep the costs to a minimum. Please note that the third surveyor’s fee can be apportioned between the two parties.
The Adjoining Owner Paying for the Party Wall Surveying Fee: Is it Possible?
According to the Party Wall Act and section 11(4), the party wall surveying fee will be shared between the building owner and adjoining owner when, for example, the former proposes to take down and rebuild a shared garden wall that has been defective as a result of neither party causing or being responsible for that defect. In such cases, since the works benefit both the parties, distributing the surveyor’s fee is only fair. However, if a tree belonging to the Building Owner had caused damage to the garden wall then it is only fair that the Building Owner bears most if not all his surveyor’s fees and that of his neighbour’s.
In addition to this, the adjoining owners will have to contribute for the fee of the party wall surveyor if:
- They have requested the building owner for some extra works
- They instruct the surveyor on matters unrelated to the Party Wall Act
- They along with their surveyor decide to get a third surveyor involved and the neutral party finds in favour of the building owner
Let Arun Associates Experts Help You!
Arun Associates is an RICS-regulated company with a professional team of party wall surveyors. Our experts can act as a party wall surveyor for both building owners and adjoining owners. In addition to an extensive understanding of the ins and outs of the Party Wall Act, they have excellent negotiation skills.
No matter how simple or complex your project is, feel free to get in touch with us so that we can help you determine the best course of action for a seamless experience. Our aim is to reduce the project duration while ensuring that you get the best value in terms of the work done.