Choosing the best party wall surveyor is vital for any homeowner planning to carry out construction and/or renovation works affecting any shared walls or boundaries. Not only will selecting the best surveyor keep your neighbours happy and onboard with the work, but they will also save you time, money and stress.
The Party Wall Act etc. 1996
The Party Wall Act of 1996 requires owners to notify adjoining owners of any planned works that might have an impact on any shared walls.
If the neighbours consent to the proposed works, the process continues smoothly. However, if they object, homeowners will need to appoint a qualified party wall surveyor.
Below we have gone into detail on how homeowners can go about choosing the best party wall surveyor for their needs and requirements.
Understanding Party Wall Surveyors
A party wall surveyor plays a crucial role in mitigating potential disputes between neighbours during construction or renovation projects.
The party wall surveyors job is to impartially oversee the process and ensure that all works comply with the Party Wall Act. They also assess any potential damages and award costs where necessary.
Below are some of the key things that you should check when considering which surveyor to hire.
1. Check Qualifications & Experience
Look for a party wall surveyor with the necessary qualifications and experience. They should ideally be a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (FPWS), two leading professional bodies in the UK that ensure that their members adhere to high standards of professional conduct and competence.
Also, make sure that you find a surveyor who has extensive experience dealing with party wall matters, particularly those similar to your project. Surveyors often offer a range of different services, but some are particularly well versed in party wall matters.
2. Local Knowledge
A party wall surveyor with local knowledge will provide unique insights into area-specific construction practices and regulations. They are also likely to have worked with local contractors and can thus provide a well-rounded perspective on the proposed work.
If you are looking for a qualified expert to advise you on your party wall related matter on, say, a central London property, you should look to hire an experienced party wall surveyor in London.
3. Detailed & Transparent Fee Structure
An ideal party wall surveyor should provide a clear and detailed fee structure upfront. If they’ve had good experience dealing with projects similar to yours, they should have a good idea on how much it will cost to see the project through to the end.
Avoid surveyors who seem ambiguous about their fees. It is essential to know how much you’ll be expected to pay and what services you’re getting in return. Make sure there are no hidden charges and your chosen surveyor should be willing to put the proposed feeds down in writing.
4. Strong Communication Skills
Your chosen party wall surveyor should possess strong communication skills. They should explain complex processes and jargon in a way that you can understand. They should also be approachable and responsive to your queries.
Remember, if they are slow to respond at the initial consultation stage, they are likely to be slow to respond throughout the rest of your project.
Remember, a party wall surveyor’s duty is to the Party Wall Act and not to the individual appointing them. They must remain impartial throughout the process.
Any surveyor who appears to be favouring one party over another may not be the best choice, since they are actually acting outside of the Party Wall Act etc. 1996 even if their opinion is in your interest (for now!).
Recommendations & Reviews
It is strongly recommended that you check any online reviews that you can find when selecting a surveyor.
Online review platforms, direct references, and recommendations from friends and family will all be useful.
This will give you an idea about their professionalism, reliability, and the quality of their work.
Schedule a Consultation
Before finalising any agreement, arrange a consultation with the surveyor that you think will be the right fit for your project. This will give you an opportunity to discuss your project in detail and assess their approach. It is also an excellent way to evaluate their communication style, professionalism, and knowledge.
Choosing the best party wall surveyor will make the difference between a smooth, dispute-free construction process and a project mired in disagreements and delays. Prioritise qualifications, experience, communication skills, and impartiality when making your selection. By doing so, you’ll be one step closer to ensuring your construction or renovation project proceeds without unnecessary disputes or setbacks.
Choosing a Party Wall Surveyor FAQs
Can I choose my own party wall surveyor?
Yes, you can select your own party wall surveyor. If your neighbour wants to appoint their own one also, they can appoint one too. Alternatively, you can both agree on a single party wall surveyor to act on behalf of both of you.
Remember, a good surveyor must remain impartial no matter who appointed them.
Should I use the same party wall surveyor as my Neighbour?
Yes, you can use the same party wall surveyor as your neighbour. Assuming you are confident that the agreed surveyor will act impartially, this shouldn’t cause any issue.
How do I find a recommended party wall surveyor?
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (FPWS) are good places to start when looking for a party wall surveyor. Next you should also look at the reviews left online for any surveyor that you are considering. Finally you should check their website to see if they have any useful case studies.
Does it matter which surveyor I use?
Yes, the surveyor that you choose will be influenced by what your project involves. Since we are discussing party wall projects specifically here, you will need to find a surveyor who specialises in party wall surveying.
Do I have to pay for my Neighbours party wall surveyor?
The building owner carrying out the party wall works will usually be responsible for paying the surveyor fees of both sides, since they are the ones requiring the party wall process.