Party Wall Award & Fixed Fees – Quatrefoils Ltd

Party Wall matters can be expensive and there is no way of hiding from that as you cannot always control all of the costs. The expenses are not necessarily your surveyor as you can agree these up front but the Adjoining Owners Surveyor over whom you have no control.

As soon as you submit for Planning Permission you should be aware that hoards of so called “Surveyors”, many unregulated by the RICS will write directly to you neighbours seeking appointment at your expense. Unregulated Surveyors can charge what they like for what is minimal work and if you are in a hurry to build it is often not worth fighting. I recently had a case where somebody was taking a chimney breast off their side which is a notifiable matter under the Party Wall act and the next­door neighbours appointed an unreasonably expensive surveyor for what was very minor works.

Neighbours often do this as a lever to try and force people to stop building works that they cannot prevent by other means. I think we ended up with a bill for the owner in the region of £3000 for the neighbours surveyor which is excessive as it is really the Building Owner’s Surveyor ( that would normally be ourselves) who produces the Party Wall Award, the schedule of condition and sends out all the notices. It is often the case that the opposing surveyor is not generally Chartered but looks upon this as a means of easy money. You need to be aware that if you have got multiple owners next­door it can be even more expensive.

If they all dissent and appoint surveyors, you could be dealing with multiple Party Wall Awards. Even if they don`t respond their silence is deemed to be dissent under the Act and you have to appoint a Surveyor to represent them. At Quatrefoils we try to limit our fees particularly on residential works either to an hourly rate or something in the region of £800 ­ £900 for relatively straightforward works which includes the initial service of the notices and creating the Party Wall Award should it be necessary.

This would normally include a schedule of condition which is a document that records the state of repair of the adjoining property prior to the start of works and in my view is one of the most important parts of the Party Wall procedure. What the schedule does is protects both parties as the building owner knows the pre- existing condition of the adjoining premises before starting work so he is assured of not receiving spurious claims.

The next­door neighbour is also protected against the possibility of any damage being denied by the Building Owner as there will be an agreed high definition video of the adjoining owner’s property which we could compare to the condition if damage was alleged. If there was a problem we could then advise the Building Owner that his works were the cause and he needs to either make good or pay for the neighbours to undertake repairs themselves.

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