I am Undertaking a Loft Conversion and am Unhappy with the Agreed Surveyor’s Bill. How can I Challenge it?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

I am doing a mansard loft conversion and two Adjoining Owners of the same property elected to appoint a surveyor. The head Leaseholder and Freeholders sent the valid notices to the same surveyor who signed the notices on their behalf appointing himself to act. He said that he could act on my behalf as well as agreed surveyor. I was not happy about this but felt that I had no choice in order to keep costs down in a small domestic project and I am a first time buyer on a tight budget.

The total bill is £2,467.50 inc VAT. I had understood when I was researching party wall surveyors that fixed fees are in the region of £1,200 and have seen guidance notes prepared by party wall surveyors on the internet which state that a standard loft conversion should entail between 4-6 hours of work by a surveyor.

I would like to know what steps I can take and if these fees are likely to be reasonable in the circumstances. Am I entitled to insist on a print out of the firm’s time recording system evidencing the time spent on this matter?

Answer

You were under no obligation to appoint the same surveyor as your neighbour – if you had appointed your own surveyor they could have challenged the Adjoining Owners’ surveyor’s fee on your behalf. Although it is obviously too late to do so in this case I would always suggest obtaining a fixed fee, or at the very least an hourly rate and an estimate of the likely time involved, prior to confirming such an appointment.

The only method of challenging an Agreed Surveyor’s fee is by appealing the Award. You have 14 days in which to do that following receipt of the documents although I have heard that the County Court is sometimes flexible on the timing.

It is beyond the scope of this service to review surveyors’ fees but you should be provided with a breakdown of how the time accrued if nothing was agreed in advance. If you do not/have not appealed the Award you are obliged to pay the fee as stated in the Award.