Party wall surveying
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For redevelopment plans or settling disputes with a neighbour, having the right party wall surveyor is crucial for making sure the process is finished quickly and painlessly. Plentific offers a free service that generates a list of the best tradesmen in your local area that offer party wall surveying while also giving you quick access to customer reviews to help you make your choice.
What do you need to know about party wall surveying?
A party wall surveyor is employed to settle disputes over walls or space shared by two parties or property owners. You will need to hire one if you are doing construction or building work with will affect a shared structure or is within a specified distance from a neighbour’s property. You are required by law to give your neighbours notice before starting work close to or within their property boundary. For work that falls under the Party Wall Act you must give a minimum of 2 month’s notice before ‘notifiable work’ begins, such as excavation within 3 or 6m of their property, and work must have started within a year of serving this notice. The neighbours will then have 14 days to respond, and may hire their own surveyor in the event of a dispute. It is a very good idea to discuss things with your neighbour before giving them notice - you may be able to agree to use the same surveyor, which can speed up the process and save you money. If your neighbour does not respond in 14 days they are considered to have dissented, and if they do not appoint a party wall surveyor within ten days you can hire one on their behalf, though you will have to pay for this. If deemed necessary by the surveyor, builders will be able to trespass on your neighbour’s property.
When choosing a party wall surveyor keep in mind that you cannot use a tradesman already working on the project, as they are unlikely to be seen as impartial. A party wall surveyor does not need qualifications - they can accept the position as long as they are not a part of either affected party. Still, it is a good idea to check the experience and qualifications before making your choice. Have they settled disputes like yours in the past? Do they have legal experience? They may have relevant qualifications, or could be part of a national tradesmen’s organisation such as the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors or the Pyramus and Thisbe Club. This is a good sign, as such groups typically enforce high standards of professionalism and codes of conduct for members. Typically, if after surveying the properties in question, if the building work in fact damages your neighbour’s property it is the surveyor that will be liable, though you should make sure of this. Once they have completed their assessment they will prepare a Party Wall Award/ Agreement, which sets out the rights and responsibilities of both parties and will allow work to commence. It will include restrictions for building and will list additional work necessary to protect your neighbour’s property. This will be legally binding for both parties.
Make sure to check your choice’s policies relating to insurance and liabilities, and get this in writing. If they do a poor job which results in damage to the properties in question, you do not want to be held responsible for it. The fact that party wall surveyors do not have to be qualified might seem like an opportunity to go for a cheap option, but doing so can lead to much higher expenses down the line.
How much does party wall surveying cost?
The cost of hiring a party wall surveyor will fall to the building owner. You should prepare contingencies for multiple visits, depending on whether you have discussed things with your neighbours beforehand. When given a quote be sure to ask for a firm breakdown, and ask about how unexpected complications would impact your bill. The actual price will depend on the length of the job. For example, excavations for a basement conversion would be a more complex issue to settle, and the surveyor may charge you more. You should be prepared to pay around £120 per hour. Hiring party wall disputes well in advance will stop you from having to pause or reschedule construction work, which could significantly add to your costs. Make sure you collect several quotes before making your final decision.