British notes and coins

This blog is not an authoritative interpretation of the law; it is intended as a general guide.

In this blog, Icon Surveyors will consider the various costs associated with carrying out works in compliance with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, including the charges of a Party Wall Surveyor. We will also consider who is responsible for those costs.

How Much Does It Cost to Appoint a Party Wall Surveyor?

There are various costs connected to instructing a Party Wall Surveyor. As with most costs incurred within the building services industry, the location of the build tends to be factored into surveyor’s charges. That is to say, the cost of a Party Wall Surveyor providing services in the London area is generally more expensive than appointing a Party Wall Surveyor in Birmingham.

As stated there are many differing costs associated with the appointment of a Party Wall Surveyor’s services, these may include those as listed below;

  1. Party Wall Notice
  2. Party Wall Award
  3. Checking Engineer Costs
  4. Enclosure Costs
  5. Movement Monitoring Costs
  6. Thames Build-over Agreement (London only)
  7. Access License Costs (legal)
  8. License for Alteration Costs (legal)
  9. Injunction Costs (legal)
  10. Security for Expenses costs

Party Wall Notice

The first cost to consider is that of the appointment of a Party Wall Surveyor by a building owner planning to carry out works under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. The first action a building owner must comply with under the Act is to serve all and/or any adjoining owners with a Party Wall Notice. The time scale for service of a Notice prior to the works commencing is dependent on the works being carried out and can range from one to two months.  

Although a building owner has a choice to serve a Party Wall Notice without hiring a Party Wall Surveyor, as with any lay person taking up the challenge of carrying out a service that is usually provided by a professional, there is potential for mistakes to be made. An example might be failing to provide certain legally required information in the Notice.  This in turn may lead to further un-incorporated expenses being added to the building owners’ costs as it could not only cause a delay in the building owners commencement of the intended works, but to an adjoining owner executing their rights under the Act to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor, the liability costs of which would fall on the building owner.

 Icon Surveyor’s provide this service at the reasonable cost of £50+VAT.

Party Wall Award

After service of a Party Wall Notice, the adjoining owner usually has a period of 14 days to respond. Under the Act the adjoining owner is legally required to either consent or dissent to the works being carried out. If the adjoining owner(s) consent to the work’s being carried out, no further action need be taken under the Act. If however, the adjoining owner dissents to the works being carried out or indeed fails to respond within the statutory time period, the Act provides that a dispute has arisen.

Once a dispute arises, either the building owner and/or the adjoining owner or both are required to appoint a surveyor to resolve any disagreements that have arisen between the parties. The Party Wall Surveyor will draw up an agreement commonly termed as a Party Wall Award. The Award will determine whether the building owner has the right to carry out the works; if so, the time scale and manner in which such works may be carried out and finally, any other matter arising out of or incidental to the dispute including the costs of making the Award.

The latter powers are sweeping and will include terms and conditions for the protection of both of the disputing parties.  Such conditions might include an award of Enclosure costs; specific Licensing agreements; movement monitoring costs; insurance policies; costs for causing disruption or unreasonable inconvenience to an adjoining or building owner, or security costs for future contingencies.

The cost of a Party Wall Award will depend on the complexity of the build and what will be needed to ensure all concerned parties are protected from incurring unnecessary and/or foreseeable loss or damage as a result of the works being carried out.

Icon Surveyor’s will usually charge a flat fee of £750+VAT for simple awards.  Any Awards that may require more in-depth terms will be priced reasonably, but it should be noted that certain costs such as certain legal or other professional costs as described below are not within Icon Surveyors control. 

Checking Engineer Costs

If a Party Wall Surveyor requires a ‘Checking Engineer’ to provide a report of the technical details of the notifiable works and how it may affect the build and/or how the proposed works will affect the  adjoining owner, this will constitute an additional cost to the building owner. This procedure is usually carried out by a structural engineer examining the plans submitted to the adjoining owner as a part of the Party Wall Notice, or as a result of the Party Wall Surveyor considering the plans and carrying out an inspection of the site. These costs vary but usually range from between £800 + VAT to £1,600 + VAT.

Icon Surveyors are not in control of these costs but will always provide a building owner with an estimated cost of the ‘Checking Engineer’s fees to be approved by the building owner prior to engaging a ‘Checking Engineer’s services.

Enclosure Costs

An ‘Enclosure’ cost is a cost that a Party Wall Surveyor will award to an adjoining owner who has in the past incurred the cost of building a Party Wall the same of which will be used by a subsequent building owner to carry out the proposed works. These costs are calculated in accordance with a detailed structure laid down by the Act and may be added to the Party Wall Award as a separate payment to be made to the adjoining owner prior to the commencement of any approved notifiable works.

Movement Monitoring Costs

In some of the more complex builds a Party Wall Surveyor, or indeed a ‘Checking Engineer’ may require the Party Wall Surveyor to install a ‘Movement Monitor’ to record any movement of land or structures that are likely to cause future damage to an adjoining owners property or land.

Generally speaking, a movement monitor is usually hired and installed by the Party Wall Surveyor who also monitors the movement prior to, during and at the end of the build. The costs for this will be dependent on the length of time and frequency of recording visits the Party Wall Surveyor will have to make.

Icon Surveyors charge a flat fee for the hiring and installation of each monitor, a fixed fee for the removal and an hourly fee of £245+VAT for each.

Thames Build-over Agreement Costs

A Thames Build-over agreement is permission from Thames Water to carry out building works that are within and/or over 3 meters of a drain, disposal main or sewer that is owned by Thames Water. Under the Water Industry Act 1991, Thames Water acquired all of the public water sewers in the Thames region. It should be noted that this type of agreement is only applicable to building owners who are carrying out works that are within the Thames region and within the above specified distances.

An application for domestic building works can be made directly by a building owner to Thames Water and is currently in the region of £299 + VAT. Please note this sum is for an application, any site visits, alteration of plans, resubmission of Party Wall Notice(s) or Party Wall Awards will incur further costs.      

Access Licence Costs

An Access Licence is often obtained in accordance with section 8 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. This section of the act provides that an adjoining owner must, when necessary, grant the building owner, their workmen and/or surveyors access to their property to carry out works pursuant to the Act. The building owner must notify the adjoining owner of their intention to gain access at least 14 days prior to any works being carried out. It is an offence under the Act to refuse access without reasonable cause.

However, there are instances where an adjoining owner will refuse access to a building owner and/or any others appointed to carry out the purported works. There are a couple of remedies that may be sought by a building owner who finds themselves in this predicament.

The first is by way of a License Agreement between the parties. This can be drawn up by a surveyor or solicitor. It can be in the form of a License, Agreement and/or Deed. If an adjoining neighbour refuses to enter into a license agreement, depending on the circumstances of the case, a building owner may be able to obtain an Access Order from the court.

This is by far the cheapest option. Icon Surveyors fee to draw up an Access Licence starts from £1,150 +VAT.

The second is to apply to the Court for an Access Order under the Access to Neighbouring Lands Act 1992. The Court will only grant an order if it is satisfied that the works are ‘reasonably necessary’ for the preservation of the relevant land and they can only be carried out or it would be very difficult for the works to be carried out without access to the adjoining land. Before granting an order, the court must also take into consideration any hardship that may be caused to the adjoining neighbour.

This option has a far heftier price tag attached to it.  Generally speaking, the costs incurred would be the solicitor’s fee to draw up an application to the court, the court fees and representation at the court by a barrister and/or solicitor advocate. Solicitors currently charge in the region of between £250-500 per hour. Icon Surveyor’s do not have any control over these professional fees.   

Licence for Alteration Costs

A licence for Alteration is a document that grants permission to amend a leasehold agreement. These are often required by building owners who wish to make alterations that have been prohibited by their leasehold agreement.

These documents can be drawn up by the freehold owner. However, it is prudent to ensure that the document is drawn up by a legal professional who specializes in property law. The cost for this document depends on the legal professional’s fee structure. Again, Icon Surveyor’s do not have any control over these fees.

Costs for an Injunction

Applications for injunctions sought under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, are usually made to a court by an adjoining owner who wishes to prohibit works that are in breach of the Act being carried out or continued.  As with all applications made to a court, a lay person is entitled to represent themselves. This would lower the costs as all that would need to be paid for is the application to the Court.

In Icon’s experience, unless the case is very straightforward, we would advise any owner wanting to make an application to the Court to seek professional legal advice. As with all litigation, injunctions can add substantial costs.

Security for Expenses Costs

Security for expenses, are usually awarded to an adjoining owner and held in an escrow account prior to any works being commenced. They are used to ensure the building owner has the funds to pay for any damage or loss that may flow from the intended works.  Security for expenses form part of the Party Wall Award and can be granted by a Party Wall Surveyor under section 12 of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.

Icon Surveyors are happy to provide a free consultation to any building or adjoining owners who may be affected by the subject matter raised in this blog.

icon surveyors

Icon Surveyors

We are a team of party wall surveying experts based throughout London and the surrounding areas. Here, we share informative property survey blogs created by industry experts.



Get A Quote