Choosing a Party Wall Surveyor

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You may be amazed to know that a Party Wall Surveyor does not need to have any formal qualifications.  The only stipulation in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is that a party to the dispute may not act as his or her own party wall surveyor.  You can appoint your butcher, your baker or your candlestick maker.  In practice, it is as well to choose wisely.  Do not be tempted by the longest string of initials after a surveyors’ name.  Neither the cheapest nor the most expensive may be the best.  Do not respond to unsolicited enquiries from surveyors who have been monitoring planning websites.  Many of these get themselves appointed even before a notice is served under the Act so that recovery of their fees from neighbours carrying out the work, may prove difficult.  Avoid signing up to agreements under which you would be responsible as the adjoining owner for payment of your surveyor’s fee.  In most circumstances, these fees are payable by the party carrying out the work and it is for the surveyors to agree upon fees, their amount and who should pay them.  If your surveyor charges too much, you may find yourself left with the residue to pay yourself.

Choose your surveyor from a reputable source.  Professional regulatory bodies, such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Royal Institute of British Architects will have lists of practitioners in this field.  The curiously named Pyramus & Thisbe Club also has a website with listings. You may have a friend who has had a good or bad experience previously which may help to guide you.  Above all, speak to the person you intend to appoint, find out about their experience, their charges and how they would deal with matters on your behalf.  Remember the appointment of a Party Wall Surveyor, like buying a pet, is not just for Christmas and once appointed you cannot dismiss them.  They are with you until the whole matter has been concluded!

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