Can I Appoint my Surveyor as ‘Agreed’?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

I have appointed a surveyor to deal with the party wall act on my behalf but I am not confident he is enforcing it in the right way.
 
The 1st 14 day notice was sent to the neighbours to which they did not respond, a second letter was sent giving them 10 days to appoint a surveyor as it was deemed a dispute had arisen due to them not responding.
 
12 days after this letter my surveyor received a call from the neighbours family advising they had appointed there own surveyor but would not give the name or contact details, I have already given my surveyor instruction to appoint himself as agreed surveyor as the 10 days had passed, they are disputing this as they say they appointed the surveyor within the 10 days but did not notify my surveyor and have still not provided any details, can my surveyor continue as agreed surveyor to complete this award?
 
Where do we stand with their delay tactics? We served notice under section 6 of the act for excavation of foundation trenches 3mtrs in length next to the boundary wall.

Answer

Once the 10 days had elapsed following the reminder letter you, or your surveyor if you have authorised him in writing to do so, gained the right to appoint a surveyor on behalf of the Adjoining Owners. However, in those circumstances you cannot appoint your surveyor as ‘Agreed’, he cannot be ‘Agreed’ when the adjoining owners have not agreed to his appointment. You must appoint a separate surveyor for the Adjoining Owner.

Follow-up

Can my builder continue with the works while the 2nd surveyor is appointed as the month has elapsed?
 
Can I do anything about my surveyor causing delay, in not acting on the 10 day rule and giving the wrong advice about appointing himself as agreed surveyor?

Answer

Unfortunately you cannot start work yet. Once the Adjoining Owners dissented to your notice you were ‘in dispute’ under the Act. Therefore, work cannot commence until that dispute is resolved by way of a party wall award which has been agreed between the appointed surveyors.  

Your surveyor should have known that he can’t appoint himself as ‘Agreed Surveyor’ although it is a common mistake. I would only enforce the timetable strictly if I knew my appointing owner was in a rush otherwise it can be prudent to give the Adjoining Owner a bit more time to choose their surveyor. Although it is a right given by the Act many Adjoining Owners don’t like someone else choosing their surveyor for them and may refuse access – causing further delays.