Thank you for your interest in the topic of today’s blog post on property surveying. This article will address one of the most frequently asked questions of party wall quantity surveyor in the United Kingdom.
The question of whether a party wall surveyor’s professional service fees are fixed is frequently asked by both building owners and adjoining property owners.
Party wall surveying is required if the building owner, who is the legal owner of the property undergoing construction, intends to conduct work that falls under Party Wall etc. Act 1996’s jurisdiction and scope. https://partywallsolutions.net/party-wall-guide/
Assuming this is the case, they will be required by law to serve the adjoining owner with a Party Wall Notice a minimum of one or two months prior to the commencement of construction.
The adjoining owner is the legal owner of the property adjacent to or bordering the building owner’s proposed construction work.
In accordance with the provisions of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, a party to a Party Wall Notice has the legal right to object to the Notice and formally appoint a party wall surveyor to act on its behalf.
The role of the party wall surveyor is to review the proposed construction of the party wall by the building owner from the perspective of the neighbouring property owner.
Importantly, the party wall surveyor will ensure that the construction works fully take into account the adjoining owner’s property, requirements, and protection as outlined in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, and offer the lowest risk possible and reasonable within the Act’s scope.
In carrying out these responsibilities and performing this function, the party wall surveyor will inevitably expend professional time, for which they will have the legal right to charge a reasonable fee.
The fees of party wall surveyors are typically determined on a variable or fixed scale.
Constant Party Wall Surveying Fees
Fixed party wall surveying fees are dealt with or enacted, wherein the party wall surveyor will typically review the pack of drawings, examine who and how the party wall works affect adjoining property owners. Consequently, they are able to estimate the total amount of time they will spend on the file and will offer a flat rate.
When a party wall surveyor accepts a building owner’s party wall appointment and acts as the building owner’s surveyor, fixed fees are typically reserved.
Party Wall Survey Fee Variability
When the adjoining owner appoints the party wall surveyor, it is common for variable surveyor fees to apply. Party Wall Solutions
The adjoining landlord’s party wall surveyor will be appointed based on the adjoining owner’s response to the party wall notice. At this stage, it will be difficult for the party wall surveyor to provide an estimate of the likely fees they will incur; instead, it is customary and professional practise for the party wall surveyor to provide their hourly rate along with an estimate of the amount of time they anticipate spending.
Equally, the party wall surveyor may only offer an hourly rate with no estimate of time, depending on the task at hand, the works being performed, and the available drawing pack.
The rationale behind a variable fee scale is that it is impossible for an adjoining landlord’s party wall surveyor to accurately estimate the amount of time they will spend on a file at the time of instruction because there are so many variable and moving parts.
These movable and variable parts may consist of, but are not limited to:
• The party wall surveyor representing the property owner;
• The size of the adjacent building that necessitates a Schedule of Condition;
• The rooms that require a Schedule of Condition and the severity of the defects or issues noted within them;
• The standard of the provided drawings and data package;
• Reviewing addition, updated, or further drawings resulting from the outcome of the party wall surveyor’s review and input;
• The time it takes to review the Party Wall Award;
• Travel to and from site;
• Overall communications and discussions throughout the tenure of the job.
All of these variables are significantly found to change and vary from job to job and property to property, and therefore it is realistically possible for an adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor to be able to put forward fixed fees at the outset.
There are other party wall surveying fees that can come into play, however, these very much depend on the nature of the works taking place, and the properties and/or owners whom ordered them.
We are now going to take a very brief look at these different types of fees in order to fully advise you.
Third Surveyor Fees
Third surveyor party wall fees come in the shape and form of a dispute having arisen between the two party wall surveyors, or alternatively the two owners, or any variation or mix of these.
The third surveyor’s role will be to resolve and determine any dispute that is on hand, thereby ensuring that should there be an issue or dispute that the parties cannot resolve, the procedures are not stalled or stopped in absence of resolution and agreement.
Advising Engineer Expense
Another common party wall surveying fee that can come into play is the professional input from advising engineer.
An advising engineer is effectively a structural engineer who is in place to review the building owner’s proposed works from the perspective of the neighbouring owner’s property, and ensure that the design fully takes into account all necessary engineering practises. However, also posing the lowest amount of risk possible to the adjoining owner’s structure.
It is worth noting that an advising engineer is not in place to check or critique the building owner’s engineer design, instead they are simply there to ensure that whatever the final outcome is, it is the most befitting for the job fully taking into account all necessary variables.
The common logic and need for an advising engineer, is that an adjoining owner’s party wall surveyor is unlikely to be qualified or experienced enough, nor have the legal remit to comment, or review the engineering proposals.
Security for Expenses
Security for expenses comes into play when an adjoining owner puts forward a request directly to the building owner for a sum of money to be held on account.
This sum of money will be held on account in advance of the works commencing being held on account until the party wall works are complete, or for a period post completion.
Security for expenses is in place to ensure that should the building owner commence works, stall, stop or delay them thereby leaving the adjoining owner in a position whereby their property and structure borders incomplete works, that adjoining owner can then utilise and use the security to safeguard their property and structure.
Security for expenses is a hotly debated and often poorly received section of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.
Many building owners taking the view that it is an adjoining owner’s attempt to thwart, stop or delay them.
Our take on this here at UK is this simply isn’t the case, and adjoining owner’s request for security for expenses is very much just them ensuring that the necessary protections are in place in an absolute worst case scenario.
Party wall surveying procedures are inherently complicated and legal by nature. It is also important to note that anyone can refer to themselves as a party wall surveyor.
By anyone, we do indeed mean anyone and the term party wall surveyor does not come with any form of required qualification, experience or professional background.
For this reason you can get a vast array of different quality surveyors out there, differing in experience, professional approach, insurance and ultimately and understanding.
For this reason, we would always advise that the party wall surveyor that is selected is selected based on both their merit, professional experience, qualifications and understanding.