I recently received planning permission to build a rear extension on my terrace house. One of the walls is shared. I have discussed it with my neighbour and they had no issue. However, my neighbours property is owned by the council, so I contacted them to see if they had an issue. They said no. But since that I have had contact from the management company employed by the council saying a party wall agreement is required. During the course of this contact, I sent a draft version of a “party wall agreement” i.e. one I had downloaded from the net and modified the appropriate parts. It was not signed and was meant purely as a means to determine what the management company wanted.
I received an email from the management company saying we are in dispute. Finally, my questions!
To be in dispute with me, they must first have received a signed notice from me?
Is it true that all costs incurred will be my responsibility? So I must pay for their surveyors costs as well as my own?
What are costs involved in drawing up a Party Wall agreement?
I’m guessing that what you sent the council was a notice rather than a party wall agreement. You are correct to say that a notice has to be signed to be valid so the correct course of action would have been for them to reply stating that they intend to dissent and appoint a surveyor when you do serve a valid notice. ‘Dispute’ is the term used in the Act when an adjoining owner fails to consent within the given time period.
Technically it is for the appointed surveyors to agree who should pay their fees but in all normal circumstances that will be the beneficiary of the works i.e. the Building Owner. You should get a quote from your surveyor upfront. The Adjoining Owner’s surveyor’s fee is one of the last items to be agreed and it will be for your surveyor to judge what is reasonable.
The Act allows both parties to use a single ‘Agreed Surveyor’ although in my experience most Local Authorities will not agree to that. They tend to appoint surveyors from their homes division; for instance Haringey Council will appoint a surveyor from ‘Homes for Haringey’. The Act does not allow an Owner to appoint themselves but Local Authorities will argue that their homes division is a Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO).
It is always difficult to advise of fees as they vary quite considerably. From experience you should expect to pay between £600 & £800 plus VAT to your surveyor (London rates c.2010) and the Adjoining Owner’s surveyor’s fee is normally a touch higher as it allows for a second visit at the end of the works.