When planning construction or renovation work that may affect a party wall, one crucial aspect that often confuses property owners is determining who is responsible for the fees of a party wall surveyor. The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 lays out the legal framework for party wall matters, including the appointment of surveyors. In this comprehensive blog, we will explore the financial responsibilities of property owners and adjoining owners concerning party wall surveyors and provide clarity on this frequently asked question.
Understanding the Party Wall etc. Act 1996:
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 is legislation that governs construction work affecting party walls, boundary walls, and excavation near neighbouring properties. The Act aims to protect the rights and interests of both property owners (the building owner) and adjoining owners (the neighbouring property owner) during construction projects.
Financial Responsibilities of the Building Owner (Property Owner):
1. The Building Owner Initiates the Process: The building owner undertaking the construction project is legally responsible for initiating the party wall process. This includes serving the necessary Party Wall Notices to inform adjoining owners about the proposed works.
2. The Building Owner Appoints the Party Wall Surveyor: The building owner is responsible for appointing a party wall surveyor who acts on their behalf, often referred to as the "Agreed Surveyor." The Agreed Surveyor's role is to oversee the construction works' impact on the party wall and represent the interests of both parties.
3. Payment of Party Wall Surveyor Fees: As the party initiating the construction works, the building owner is generally responsible for covering the party wall surveyor's fees, including the adjoining owner's reasonable surveyor costs, should they appoint their own surveyor.
4. Covering Shared Costs: In some cases, when the proposed works benefit both properties, the building owner may be required to share the costs of specific party wall works, such as repairs or maintenance, with the adjoining owner.
Financial Responsibilities of the Adjoining Owner:
1. Appointing a Separate Surveyor (If Desired): The adjoining owner has the right to appoint their own party wall surveyor, known as the "Adjoining Owner's Surveyor," to represent their interests during the construction process. If the adjoining owner decides to appoint their surveyor, they will be responsible for their surveyor's fees.
2. Contribution to the Surveyor's Fees: If the adjoining owner appoints their surveyor, the building owner is usually required to cover the reasonable costs of the Adjoining Owner's Surveyor, provided the surveyor's fees are in line with similar surveyors' fees for the same works.
3. Shared Costs (When Applicable): In certain situations where both properties benefit from specific party wall works, the adjoining owner may be required to contribute to the costs alongside the building owner.
Negotiating and Agreeing on Fees:
While the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 provides a framework for financial responsibilities, it is essential for both parties to engage in open communication and negotiation regarding party wall surveyor fees. By discussing and agreeing on the surveyor's costs upfront, property owners can avoid disputes and ensure a smooth construction process.
Determining who pays for a party wall surveyor involves understanding the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 and the specific circumstances of the construction project. As the building owner typically initiates the process, they are usually responsible for the party wall surveyor's fees. However, the Act allows for negotiation and shared costs in certain scenarios, depending on the project's nature and benefits to both properties.
At Icon Surveyors we offer expert Party Wall Surveying services to ensure compliance with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. Our team of qualified surveyors can assist you in understanding your financial responsibilities and guide you through the process, fostering positive relationships with your neighbours while safeguarding your interests.