What are the Ramifications of Ignoring The Act?

by The Party Wall Surveyor

Question

We live in a mid-terrace, and have submitted plans for a kitchen extension. This kitchen extension will go along our neighbour’s wall (he’s already extended his kitchen). In accordance with the party wall act, we sent a letter outlining the works, including a copy of the plans. On the plans, the architects name is shown. It turns out the neighbour has had problems with this architect in the past. Based on this, he has said he’s not happy for the works to go ahead and has appointed a surveyor to represent his interests (which of course we are expected to pay for). He appears to have no actual problems with the plans themselves. 

From what I understand he’s well within his rights to do this, but we’re obviously a little peeved as this is a straightforward extension, and we only included the plans in the party wall notification to give him as much information as possible. Do we have any option but to appoint a surveyor to represent our interests? That then means we’re paying for two sets of surveyors. Our extension is only going to cost around 10k and we’re worried that the surveyor’s fees will end up being a significant percentage of this. 

Also, what are the ramifications of doing nothing? As far as I can see, there are no fines for failing to comply, and two possible comebacks: 

Neighbour can issue an injunction to stop the work as the work is progressing. Once the work is complete, the neighbour can’t do anything under the party wall act.
Any future issues arising in the neighbour’s property could be attributed to our building work, which will require surveyors to investigate at that point.

Answer

Because your neighbour has dissented to your notice you must both now appoint surveyors. As the works are minor it would make sense to concur in the appointment of a single surveyor but that can only be done if your neighbour is agrees. You may want to suggest that your neighbour selects a surveyor to act for the two of you – party wall surveyors are obliged to act impartially regardless of which owner approaches them first.  

The ramifications of proceeding with work without resolving the dispute is as you have stated. If an injunction is obtained and proves to have been justified it could end up costing you a lot of money and delaying your works for several months.