All Aboard The Great Party Wall Train…

The gripes are becoming more vocal and regular.

Party wall matters seem to be nothing but an expensive inconvenience for building owners wishing to carry out building works that fall within the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

Whether it be extortionate fees and/ costly delays, few people have much good to say about party wall surveyors.

Now, it is invariably true that there are a number of mauvais oeufs” who are ruining the reputation of the vast majority of party wall surveyors that take their responsibility to building owners, adjoining owners and the Act itself seriously and carry out their role in an ethical and equitable manner.

The good ones are at the front of the queue of victimisation at the hands of the tricks and sleights of hand that the bad ones use to frustrate the process and rack up fees.

So here my top six most annoying things bad party wall surveyors do:

  1. Send endless reams of unnecessary correspondence and charge for each item e.g. a surveyor once sent me an email, then another the next day referring to his email of yesterday and asking when he would receive a response. This was not an isolated incident and happened many times during this matter. Why charge for time spent sending one email when it’s so much more profitable to charge for two?
  2. Let’s make a banquet out of a picnic. Now method statements, engineering advice, legal advice and monitoring are all perfectly reasonable when the work is significant enough to warrant them but in every scenario, no matter what is proposed? Again, this seems to be with a view to expanding on the scope of the matter and invariably, the fee.
  3. Smart Alecs. This is not confined solely to the life of a party wall surveyor but to all but aren’t they just annoying? If you want someone to do something, be nice to them. Sarcasm and patronising behaviour is unlikely to make me want to bust a gut to help you out.
  4. Acting as an agent. Rumour has it that some surveyors are recommended by solicitors who promise to “make life difficult” for building owners wishing to carry out works; “They want to dig a basement you say? The Council didn’t listen to your objections? How very dare they? especially after they granted you permission for your basement…don’t worry Jim, I know just the chap. He’ll make their life absolute hell”.
  5. Very often this practice takes place in prime central London where neighbours can generally be less neighbourly than elsewhere.
  6. Playing the waiting game: those lovable rogues that see fit to charge for whatever they feel they can get away with do sometimes drag things on, not just to frustrate matters but with the added benefit that if the building owner becomes so desperate for his Award, he is less likely to challenge the Adjoining Owner’s surveyor’s fees. “Let’s just get it done” is a common phrase uttered by many a fraught Building Owner. These surveyors know this and take full advantage.

At Davis Brown, we have a number of party wall and neighbourly matters specialists. We pride ourselves on doing things the right way, no matter who we are acting for. If you would like to discuss any aspect of party walls please call Tony Guerguis on 020 7907 1808 or email at



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