Choosing a Surveyor

Main Role of Surveyor

The Party Wall process begins with the appointment of a Surveyor and culminates with the issue of an Award:

1.       Serving of Notices

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The Notice is a document that serves to put the Adjoining Owner on notice that the Building Owner intends to undertake particular works.  It must be served on all the Adjoining Owners who would be affected by any of the proposed works.

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Notices may be served either by the Building Owner himself or a Surveyor acting on his behalf. In the majority of situations it is the Surveyor who drafts the Notices.

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2.       Dispute Resolution

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The main role of the Party Wall Surveyor is to resolve Party Wall disputes. A dispute occurs in one of two ways: The Adjoining Owner responds to the Notice stating their ‘dissent to the works’, or the Adjoining Owner ignores the Notice creating ‘a deemed dissent’.

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Once a dispute has occurred the Party Wall Act requires that a Surveyor be appointed to resolve the dispute and draw up an Award specifying the works that are allowed, and the manner in which they must be undertaken as well as other stipulations.

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3.       Agreed Surveyor, Building Owner’s Surveyor, Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor, Third Surveyor, No Surveyor

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Upon receipt of a Notice an Adjoining Owner has a number of options: He can consent to the works, in which case there is no dispute for the Surveyor to resolve. The services of a Surveyor are therefore not required (although in most cases an Adjoining Owner would be advised to have the Surveyor undertake a Schedule of Condition in order to provide a record of the condition of his property. The cost of this would fall on the Building Owner).

Alternatively, an Adjoining Owner may dissent to the works but nevertheless consent to the appointment of one Agreed Surveyor. The role of Surveyors is statutory and as such no favoured treatment may be given to the Building Owner who is paying the Surveyor’s fees. The Adjoining Owner must be treated with the same consideration as the Building Owner.

Alternatively, an Adjoining Owner may dissent to the works and insist on his right to appoint a Surveyor of his choosing at the expense of the Building Owner. The Building Owner’s Surveyor will then work together with the Adjoining Owner’s Surveyor to draft the Award.

Where the Adjoining Owner has chosen his own Surveyor, the two Surveyors must in the first instance agree to a named Third Surveyor whose purpose is to determine any subsequent dispute between the two Surveyors.

Either the Surveyors themselves or the Building Owner / Adjoining Owner may refer any matter of dispute to the Third Surveyor.

We summarise the three types of Party Wall Surveyor appointment: Building Owner Surveyor, Adjoining Owner Surveyor and Agreed Surveyor.

Building Owner Surveyor

The Building Owner's first obligation under the Party Wall Act is to serve Notice on relevant Adjoining Owners outlining the intended works in sufficient detail to enable the Adjoining Owner to make an informed decision as to whether he should consent or dissent to the proposed works.

Adjoining Owner Surveyor

On receipt of Notice the Adjoining Owner can either consent or dissent to the works. If he dissents a dispute arises and the Adjoining Owner can either concur in the appointment of the Building Owner's Surveyor or choose his own Surveyor in which case both Surveyors will work together to produce the Award.

 The Agreed Surveyor

Where the Adjoining Owner has concurred in the appointment of the Building Owner's Surveyor, the appointment becomes one of an Agreed Surveyor. There is an obvious benefit for the Building Owner where he only has to pay the cost of one Surveyor. Regardless, Surveyors must always act impartially in the interest of both parties.   

4.       Drafting the Award

This is the final step in the process. The purpose of the Award is to instruct the Building Owner how to undertake the works so as to minimise the opportunity for damage or nuisance to occur.