When is a Party Wall Surveyor Required ?

When is a Party Wall Surveyor Required?

Under The Party Wall ect Act 1996, it is an obligation for the Building Owner to serve Party Wall Notices upon an Adjoining Owner or several Adjoining Owners to notify them of building works to their property that would affect the Adjoining Owner’s property.

Do I need to serve a party wall notice?

You need to serve a party wall notice if you are excavating close to an adjoining property or doing work to an existing party wall. You also need to serve notice if you want to build on the boundary line.

The 3 sections of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 that apply are as follows:

  • Section 1 – New building works on “Line of Junction” notice
  • Section 3 – Party Structure notice
  • Section 6 – Adjacement excavation and construction notice

If you are proposing work under any of these sections, then you are required to serve a party wall notice.

Whilst you can serve these initial notices yourself without using a party wall surveyor, if you  make mistakes, you could find that the process later down the line is invalid, and you may have  to start again from scratch. If you are unsure what is required, then you should use the services of a party wall surveyor.

At Dunham Hale Surveyors, we can draft and serve the correct notices on your behalf. This will prevent wasted time and possibly increased costs of the adjoining owner’s surveyor dealing with an incorrect notice.

What can I do when the adjoining owner ignores the notice?

If the adjoining owner ignores the notice, under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 the following process applies and automatically a dispute has deemed to have arose after 14 days. You should then write to them again requesting that they appoint a party wall surveyor within 10 days or you will appoint a surveyor for them. If they ignore this 10 day request, you can then appoint a party wall surveyor on their behalf. However, you should note that this has to be a separate surveyor than your own, in other words it cannot be one agreed surveyor or the surveyor you have instructed.

Party Wall Surveyor Fees

Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, the building owner proposing the work is responsible for paying all fees, including the adjoining owners’ surveyors’ fees. The fees are paid and considered under normal circumstances and for the reasonable costs of the adjoining owner which includes their party wall surveyor fees and possibly an advising engineer appointed by them and any other reasonable costs. You may be able to agree a fixed fee with your own party wall surveyor but probably not with the other surveyor. However, the term reasonable needs to be understood and this means that the adjoining owners surveyor cannot simply charge what they want.

What do party wall surveyors actually do?

The agreed party wall surveyor or two surveyors make a party wall award which is a document that can only be appealed in the County Court within 14 days of being served on you. If it is not appealed, it is then binding on both owners.

The award will have copies of the drawings, a record of condition of the adjoining property in case there is a claim of damage and it also sets out the rights and obligations of the owners. It may also contain method statements for more technical work.

An award can determine the right, time and manner of executing the work and any other matters arising out of or incidental to the dispute including the costs of making the award.

If damage is caused during or after the work, a party wall surveyor will determine if the damage has resulted from the works and assess an amount of compensation if the owners cannot agree.

Party wall surveyors also deal with Security for Expenses, if that has been requested and determine if and when it should be released back to the building owner or if it should be used for the reason it was requested.

Does the party wall surveyor work for me?

This is common question we are asked at Dunham Hale Surveyors. We are often told by the adjoining owner or building owner that we work for them and that we have to have their best interests.

Depending how you look at it, the correct answer is no. We are not employed by either the building owner or the adjoining owner. Although, we do act for them, our obligation is to exercise the terms of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and our role is to agree between the two surveyors to ensure that the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is followed.

This means we may not agree with the adjoining owner or the building owner. We look at it independent and ensure that whatever is decided, this follows what the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 has stipulated.

I am the adjoining owner, and we don’t want the building owner to build an extension. Can I stop them?

This is another common question we are asked at Dunham Hale Surveyors.

The simple answer is that no. We cannot stop them. If the building owner has obtained and been granted planning permission, then they are entitled to build as the works have been deemed acceptable under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990.

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 was designed to facilitate a dispute between neighbours. It ensures that any works by the building owner does not damage or cause the adjoining owner undue stress or financial disadvantage. Likewise it also protects the building owner in the event that the adjoining owner claims for damages that they may not be entitled to. For example; damage that was not caused by the building works.


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