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Property Surveying Blog
Written by Bradley Mackenzie

In this week’s blog post, I am going to be looking at the difference between an Agreed Surveyor appointment and the appointment to two respective Party Wall Surveyors in respect of Party Wall works.

Whenever a Party Wall Notice is served upon an adjoining owner, they will have three response options, as follows;

Response Option 1

To consent to the Party Wall works, meaning that they will no longer require the protections that the Party Wall Act affords them and will effectively be reserving the right to Party Wall Surveyor input should they choose to call upon it at a later date.

Response Option 2

To dissent and appoint their own Party Wall Surveyor, this commonly means that the building owner will have a Party Wall Surveyor acting for them, with the adjoining owner having their own respective Party Wall Surveyor acting on their behalf.

Response Option 3

The appointment of an Agreed Surveyor.  This will mean that the adjoining owner agrees in the appointment of one Surveyor acting impartially on behalf of both the building owner and adjoining owner.

What’s the Difference?

So what’s the different between an Agreed Surveyor and having two respective Party Wall Surveyors acting and progressing to agree the Party Wall Award.

When there are two Party Surveyors involved generally speaking there will be two sets of eyes looking at the plans and proposals from the prospective of the adjoining owner’s property. The two Surveyors will go through the Party Wall procedures, which generally speaking include; reviewing the drawings from the perspective of the adjoining owner’s property, undertaking a Schedule of Condition inspection and report of the adjoining owner’s property, and then agreeing a Party Wall Award which legally protects both the building owner and the adjoining owner.

While an Agreed Surveyor will go through all of these same steps as two respective Party Wall Surveyors will, the difference is that he will do it solely and on behalf of both respective owners.  Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, Surveyors are given the right to act on behalf of both owners as the Act recognises that a Surveyor can be impartial.  This is slightly different to most legal appointments, for example the appointment of a Solicitor or a Barrister, who would generally speaking advise their respective client accordingly and act wholly on behalf of their respective client.

The Party Wall etc. Act differs, as interestingly while the Surveyor or Surveyors will act on behalf of the respective building owner or adjoining owner, generally speaking they are actually acting for the owner’s property rather than the owner themselves.

This is an odd concept to try and get your head around, however, in short means that the Party Wall Surveyor and the role he undertakes will be very much bound by the wording of the Act and the type of property to which the building owner or adjoining owner owns.

Here at Berry Lodge Surveyors, we generally tend to recommend the use of an Agreed Surveyor on straightforward construction works commonly being loft conversions, simple rear or side extensions and minor internal structural changes such as chimney breast removals, removal of internal partitions, or any other type of structural work that falls towards the simple end of the spectrum.

You can only have an Agreed Surveyor appointment upon the agreement of the adjoining owner hence the name of the appointment, Agreed Surveyor.  However, that being said we also recommend an Agreed Surveyor appointment when the adjoining owner selects the Party Wall Surveyor themselves.  This way they will ensure that they are selecting a Party Wall Surveyor based off their merit as opposed to a Surveyor who may have simply offered a cheap service to the building owner.

Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, anyone can call themselves a Party Wall Surveyor, without any form of qualification, experience or knowledge on property.  For this reason there is a wide range of different Party Wall Surveyors in the market all with different qualifications, experience, and importantly understanding of Party Wall procedures.

Therefore, it is key that an adjoining owner selects a Party Wall Surveyor who is not only experience in Party Wall procedures, but more importantly has a firm understanding of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, as well as a good and firm understanding of construction.

Party Wall procedures can often be confusing and hard to get your head around, especially if it is the first time you have been served a Party Wall Notice, or the first time you are planning on undertaking construction works to your property.

Here at Berry Lodge we consider ourselves experts in Party Wall procedures and would be happy to assist with any matter that you may require help with.

If you would like to speak to one of our experienced Party Wall Surveyors, give us a call now and we will be happy to assist you.