MACE DAVIES ~ BLOG
When having work carried out which involves party wall matters, not only is it advisable to informally discuss your proposed works with your neighbours to help smooth the way, but it is also advisable to appoint a surveyor at an early stage, especially if your neighbour may have objections to the works being carried out.
The Party Wall Act 1996 defines a “surveyor” as; any person who is not a party to the works. This stops the owner from representing themselves, meaning the owner should appoint another person, such as a surveyor, architect or any other person who is overseeing the works to oversee party wall matters on their behalf, however, It is advisable to appoint someone with a good understanding of construction, someone with expertise in party wall procedures ideally having the relevant qualifications such as a structural engineer or building surveyor.
Once a surveyor is appointed under the Act, they have a duty to be completely impartial. This can be difficult for an owner to accept especially as they are usually the ones paying the fees!
Unless the Party Wall Surveyor declares themselves incapable of acting or dies then that appointment cannot be rescinded.
Your surveyor will begin the process by serving notice. Although there are many template notices available to source personally online, if they do not contain all the necessary information, or are incorrectly served, they will be invalid, leaving you open to complications further down the line, therefore, it is imperative to appoint a surveyor at an early stage.
The party wall surveyors (or Agreed Surveyor should the two owners make a single appointment) will prepare a party wall award which is also known as a party wall agreement. This document outlines the responsibilities and rights of the owner and stipulates how the work should be carried out, rights of access throughout the works for the surveyor, the construction hours, and steps to be taken should any damages occur.
Prior to any work commencing, the party wall surveyor will then carry out a schedule of condition of the adjoining owner’s property, usually to the areas likely to be affected by the neighboring works. This is the most time-consuming task that the party wall surveyor performs, this task and its accuracy is essential so that any subsequent damage can be properly seen. If two different surveyors have been instructed, then the schedule of condition is prepared by the building owner’s surveyor and proofed by the adjoining owner’s surveyor.
Now to the important part, fees! Under normal circumstances these are paid by the building owner. Costs can be dependent on the size of the scheme and the individual surveyor, some will work on a fixed price and some on an hourly rate, charging additional fees for extra visits and contingencies. Once the final fee has been agreed it should be entered into the award just before it is served.
The party wall act also provides timescales of when notices are served and responded too, timescales before the works start, with different notices being required for different works. For further information, please see Party Wall Matters
Additionally, for all your party wall matters, please contact Chris