Although the 1996 Act is almost two decades old, it has been comparatively slow in coming to the attention of the public and building professionals, while the wording of the Act provides a little indication as to the exact nature of the surveyor’s role.

A Party Wall Surveyor specializes in resolving disputes that may arise under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

Under the Act 1996, within England and Wales, disputes can occur between homeowners who directly share a wall, frequently called as a Party Wall, or when homeowners are in close proximity to each other and building works, for instance, a structural works to the Party Wall, side or rear extension, or basement conversion are taking place.

So who is eligible as a Party Wall Surveyor?

There are no explicit qualifications that are compulsory to be appointed as a Party Wall Surveyor, however, Section 20 of the Act confirms:

“surveyor” translates to any individual not being a party to the matter selected or appointed under section 10 to determine disputes under the procedures set out in this Act.

This meticulously means that anyone can be a Party Wall Surveyor as long as they are not a party to the works.

Understanding Party Wall Procedures

The primary step of the Party Wall Surveying procedure is for the building owner to serve a Party Wall Notice upon the adjoining owner if the building works they are carrying out qualify under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

The Party Wall Notice informs the adjoining owners of the building owners of proposed works and encourages them for a response option about the works. Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, it isn’t essential to have a Party Wall Surveyor serve the Party Wall Notice and can be completed by the building owner. However, it is exceedingly recommended that a Party Wall Surveyor does this as it will prevent invalid service, which will eventually cause delays.

Once an adjoining owner receives the Party Wall Notice, they can reply with one of the three following choices:

Response 1:

Agreeing to the works (with or without a Schedule of Condition report).

Response 2:

Disagreement to the Party Wall Notice and assigning their own Party Wall Surveyor.

Response 3:

Disagreement to the Party Wall Notice and approving the appointment of an Agreed Surveyor. An Agreed Surveyor means that one Party Wall Surveyor performs impartially on behalf of the construction owner and the adjoining owner.

Consenting to the Works

Consenting to the Party Wall Notice fundamentally reserves your (the adjoining owner’s) privileges to be protected under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, consequently the additional review and input of a Party Wall Surveyor will not be compulsory.

If you (the adjoining owner) agree and request a Schedule of Condition Report is undertaken, the Party Wall Surveyor would have to inspect the adjoining owner’s property and then later assemble the report. Once this report has been commenced and is finished, the construction owner is free to go ahead and conduct the works.

Disagreement to the Party Wall Notice and assigning their own Party Wall Surveyor

If the adjoining owner chooses to disagree to the Party Wall Notice and employs their own Party Wall Surveyor, then the building owner’s Party Wall Surveyor will have to perform Schedule of Condition Report together with the Party Wall Surveyor of the adjoining owner.

The adjoining owner’s Party Wall Surveyor will then cross-check the Schedule of Condition Report to ensure it is accurate and fair and then proceed to agree a Party Wall Award (commonly referred to as a Party Wall Agreement) which includes governing the notifiable works.

Disagreement to the Party Wall Notice and approving the appointment of an Agreed Surveyor

Disagreement to the Party Wall Notice and approving the appointment of an Agreed Surveyor simply means that the adjoining owner who the Party Wall Notice was served upon has settled for their Party Wall Surveyor to be conjointly appointed by the building owner.

The Party Wall Surveyor, in this case, would then continue to perform the Schedule of Condition Report of the adjoining owner’s property and then supervene this by drafting and serving Party Wall Award that will administer the works.

The Fees

Finally, we come to fees, under all standard circumstances the building owner pays these. Surveyors employed by the constructing owner will generally quote a fixed fee while the surveyor from the adjoining owner will charge by the hour (£140 is the existing average for London) with contingencies for supplementary visits.