Category Archives: Third Surveyor

Third Surveyor has Requested £2000 to Help Resolve the Matter

Question

We have reached a rather unfortunate point in our party wall dispute. We are following the requirements of the party-wall act with reference to works we’d like to carry out on the adjoining wall.

The work involves removing part of the chimney stack on our side of the wall.

A third surveyor is now involved in the dispute. The appointement of the 3rd surveyor was agreed on by both our surveyor and the adjoining owners surveyor. After some communication he has now declined to give us the award on the grounds that surveyor 1 and 2 can’t agree. I thought this was the purpose of the 3rd surveyor. Is this adequate reason to decline the award?

He has now requested £2000 to appoint him to ‘help resolve the matter’.

Can you offer any advice on this circumstance?

Answer

I think the £2000 (£1000 from each owner I assume) will be a payment on account rather than a fee so it may not cost that much. Third surveyor fees range from £170 per hour up to £220 in Central London. I’m assuming that any discussions involving the Third Surveyor up until now have been informal but ultimately unproductive.

If the matter in dispute does not affect the proposed works, such as a dispute over the Adjoining Owner’s surveyor’s fee, then the award should be served on the owners and the dispute resolved later. If the dispute is critical to the works then it will have to be awarded on by the Third Surveyor before the awards can be served and the work start. The Third Surveyor’s award will also state who should pay his fee (normally the owner of the surveyor who loses the argument) so hopefully you have chosen your surveyor carefully.

Will I Be Blamed for Damage to my Neighbour’s Shoddy Conservatory?

Question

I am planning a kitchen extension in my terraced cottage and both of my neighbours have requested a surveyor to draw up a party wall award. I understand that i will have to pay for this.

The party wall on one side is my existing kitchen wall and my neighbours have butted up a conservatory against it. This wall will be unchanged but i will be replacing the existing flat kitchen roof with a sloping tiled roof double the width, so i anticipate a certain amount of banging and stress on the wall.

I am slightly worried about their conservatory as it is not terribly well built and i know they have had problems with leaks in the past. Will the party wall award protect me if they should have future problems and attribute it to my building works? Also if the surveyor deems it necessary will i be responsible for payment to make their conservatory safe before my work begins or will they?  And how long after work is done can problems with their conservatory be blamed on my work?

Answer

The surveyors will prepare a schedule of condition covering the parts of the adjoining properties that are considered to be at risk – that would normally cover any areas within 3-4 metres of any excavation works or work directly affecting the party wall. Those schedules will be used as evidence if there is any damage. The surveyors will use their expertise to decide if any damage that occurs is attributable to your works.

Party wall surveyors are supposed to be independent and not favour the owner that appoints them so in theory they should form similar conclusions. If they cannot agree the dispute will be referred to a Third Surveyor (who is selected at the start of the process by the 2 appointed surveyors) for a judgement.

Although a party wall file is never technically closed the more time that passes by the harder it will be to prove that any damage was related to your works.

The surveyors will consider how they can protect adjoining structures from damage. A typical safeguard would be to specify that any work on the wall immediately adjacent to the conservatory is carried out with hand tools only or for example any drilling in to the wall is done with a high speed rather than a pneumatic drill. If the conservatory is unstable they may decide that some temporary propping is required. 

Dealing With a ‘Distruptive’ Neighbour

Question

I live in a mid terrace and have planning permission to build a single storey extension to increase the size of the kitchen.  The building would be entirely on my property and the foundations would not exceed those of the house.  From a review of the act it would appear that I would have to notify the owner of the adjoining property as the work will be within 3 metres and will be joined at some point to the party wall between the two properties.

There has been a boundary dispute (last year) which was not settled amicably and as a result the relationship between us has suffered irreconcilably.  I am now concerned that my neighbour will do all he can to be as disruptive as possible to the process.  I am prepared to be reasonable, and follow the act with respect to timescales, indemnities and so on, but fear that he will make the process as difficult as possible, and try to escalate all costs that I will be responsible for.

What, in the act, safeguards me from reckless behaviour and ensures that both parties are treated fairly? What would the outcomes be, if after serving notice, I continued with the work? Should he choose to get an injunction who would have to pay the costs associated with it?

Answer

You only need to serve a Notice of Adjacent Excavation under section 6 of the Party Wall Act if you will be excavating to a greater depth than your neighbour’s existing foundation. Modern foundations tend to be deeper than original ones – particularly if the properties are pre-war. If you are building right up to the boundary you will also need to serve a ‘Line of Junction Notice’ under section 1 of the Act.

You are only responsible for the adjoining owner’s surveyor’s ‘reasonable’ fees. What is reasonable is determined by the two surveyors or, if they cannot agree, by a Third Surveyor that is selected at the outset to resolve disputes.

You shouldn’t start the work until your neighbour consents or an award has been agreed. There are no penalties under the Act but your neighbour could apply for an injunction to stop the work until surveyors have been appointed and an award has been agreed. Your neighbour would  pay the costs of obtaining the injunction initially but if it is proved that the injunction was justified – which it would be if your work is notifiable under the Act – they would undoubtedly apply for an order on costs and you would have to pay them. It would probably cost several thousand pounds and take a few months.

Follow up

Is the notice period for both line of junction and adjacent excavation one month?

As the extension will have to be attached to the external rear face of the building on my side of the boundary line, would that constitute a requirement for notification under the Party Structure notice?  I know ignorance is no defence, but if I served a month notice when it should be two, how much of an issue would this cause?

Answer

The notice period for both Line of Junction and Adjacent Excavation Notices is one month.

If you are using the adjoining owner’s building to gain support or cutting flashings in to his wall then a Party Structure Notice will have to be served.

One of the essential pieces of information on a party structure notice is the start date of the works – and it should not be within 2 months of the notice date. If it is, it will default to the earliest lawful date i.e 2 months after the date of the notice. The notice period is not normally crucial as the award can often be prepared more quickly and the remaining notice period waived by the adjoining owner (although they are not obliged to do this). Also, even if the notice period expires you cannot start work unless an award has been agreed and served to settle any disputes.

Could I be Held Responsible for Existing Damage to an Adjoining Property?

Question

The problem I have is a neighbour who is unreasonable. She has already been through one dispute surveyor.

I have all the planning permissions to proceed with my extension. Rightly, my neighbour objected but the permissions were given.  She has trees in her garden close to her foundations and situated over the main drain.

My architect says that the foundations of the extension will have to be deeper to accommodate her Yew tree. How can I be held responsible for any damage to her property because of my building work, when the established Yew tree owned by my neighbour may be having an adverse affect on her foundations?

Also, how much is it going to cost me to indemnify her against her own tree?  Where does the act take us when the process is not straightforward? Though I am sympathetic that the lady may not like change, I have been very careful to always be sympathetic to her and acted within the planning guidelines.

Answer

I am assuming that the adjoining owner will dissent to the proposals when the Party Wall Notice is served. She will then be obliged to appoint a surveyor.

Although it is not mentioned within the Party Wall Act, the appointed surveyor(s) will prepare a schedule of condition of the those parts of the adjoining owner’s property considered to be at risk. The schedule will be attached to the agreed award and used to ensure that any existing defects – such as those caused by the roots of the Elm tree that you mention – are not wrongly attributed to the building work.

You say at the start of your question that the adjoining owner has already been through one surveyor. You will be glad to hear that once she appoints a surveyor under the Party Wall Act she will not be allowed to dismiss them. The only circumstances in which a Party Wall Surveyor can be replaced is if they declare themselves incapable of acting or die.

Follow-up

Is there a schedule of surveyors cost available? Do I have to pay for the schedule of condition which addresses the problem caused to her property / drains by her own tree?

Answer

The owner having the work carried out pays their own surveyor’s fee and the adjoining owner’s surveyor’s fees. Although this may seem unfair you should consider the neighbour’s position. She is happy with the status quo – therefore she should not have to pay for a surveyor to limit the risk of her property being damaged by the proposed works. The schedule of condition would be taken regardless of the situation with the tree.

There are no set fees for surveyors. The building owner (the party planning the works) can shop around and get some fixed fee quotes. The surveyor for the adjoining owner will not submit his fee until the award is agreed. All that the Act says is that the surveyor’s fee should be reasonable. If you feel that the adjoining owner’s surveyor’s fee is excessive you can ask your surveyor to challenge it – this may involve referring it to the Third Surveyor for a judgment. The Third surveyor is selected at the start of the process but does not act – or get paid – unless requested to by the appointed surveyors.