Our Neighbours Have Requested a Full Structural Survey

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

We are intending to build a single storey rear extension and loft dormer conversion at the rear of our property, which would go from boundary to boundary (we are in a mid-terrace property).  The neighbours one side have signed the party wall letter, and have not been concerned about the work we will be carrying out.  On the other side, they delayed signing the agreement for 2 months, but kept verbally saying that they did not have a dispute with us, but just hadn’t had time to talk about it to sign it.  When they did sign it, they added a number of points they wanted clarified before they were happy for work to start.  Most of these seem to relate to building control information – for example: soundproofing between the dormer and their own dormer; soundproofing between the two extensions at the rear (they also have a single storey extension); what time the work will commence / finish in the day; the type of cladding we will have on our dormer (we have had lead cladding passed by building regs, even though our roof is tiled); how we intend to weather proof their dormer once we fix our own to it – which seems to be a question for the builder.  We have planning permission and building regs are happy for us to start.

We would like to know

1) As they have signed one agreement, are we required under the party wall act to answer the above points and ask them to sign another agreement, or are these questions outside the scope of the act?

Secondly, they want to ensure that there is no damage to thier property during the above works being carried out.  Whilst we can undertsand their concerns, we have spoken to our surveyor, who has stated that we need to get a schedule of conditions completed before the work starts, and he has given a price of around £170 to do this, and then £75 an hour theresfter should there be a dispute.  Our neighbours have also appointed a surveyor who has requested a full structural survery at the cost of £600, plus £120 an hour to complete this survey, and any time he is called out, plus a further £120 to sign off the work once it is completed.

please could you let us know

2) If they need a full structural survey, or whether a schedule of conditions is the norm
3) What do we do as we dispute the costs involved by their surveyor.

We would like to resolve this amicably, but feel a bit ambushed by their information.  Should we ask the two surveyors to communicate, and if so, what should we ask them to do?

Answer

  1. I am confused by your first question – presumably what you are asking them to sign is a letter of consent to your notice rather than an agreement. Your first paragraph says that they have not signed it yet but in your question you say that they have signed one agreement. Some of the queries that the Adjoining Owner has raised would come within the scope of the Act and some wouldn’t.
  2. Only a schedule of condition should be prepared – the purpose of the schedule is so that it can be referred back to in the future if any damage is caused. If your neighbour has appointed a surveyor then they must have dissented to your notice making your first question irrelevant. The surveyor’s should deal with any issues arising from the dispute.
  3. It is for your surveyor to agree the costs of your neighbour’s surveyor. If they cannot agree then the matter should be referred to the selected Third Surveyor. The two appointed surveyors should have selected a Third Surveyor as soon as they were appointed.

You final line is a bit concerning – the two appointed surveyors have to communicate or they could never agree an award. Apologies if I have misunderstood any parts of your question – I do appreciate that you may not fully understand the procedures which should be followed.

Follow-up

Thank you so much for your reply. It has helped to clarify the issues. We have asked our surveyor to deal with their surveyor, and will take it from there.