In this week’s blog post we are going to be looking at a decision that every single building owner or adjoining owner will find themselves faced with;
“How to choose a Party Wall Surveyor?”
When considering this question, it is important to briefly refer back to the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and in particular, Section 20 which defines a “Surveyor” as:
“surveyor” means any person not being a party to the matter appointed or selected under section 10 to determine disputes in accordance with the procedures set out in this Act.
What is important to note here is that the definition itself is actually incredibly loose, with the only real stipulation being that the “surveyor” isn’t the building owner or the adjoining owner.
So what does this mean?
In a nutshell, it means that anyone is able to refer to themselves as a Party Wall Surveyor, irrespective of their qualification, property background or experience! Which brings us onto the topic of this blog post, we are going to highlight some of the key characteristics that we believe a Party Wall Surveyor should posses.
A Party Wall Surveyor’s Experience
You should ensure that your Party Wall Surveyor is not only experienced in the procedures of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 but also the construction works that are taking place on site and the properties to which they are taking place.
The types of work that are covered by the Party Wall etc Act 1996 will often carry with them a significant structural risk to the surrounding properties. It goes without saying that the more experienced a Party Wall Surveyor is, the more likely he or she will be able to administer the Act to mitigate and reduce those risks.
A Party Wall Surveyor’s understanding of the construction works
You should ensure that your Party Wall Surveyor has a firm understanding of the construction works that are taking place on site. More often than not, construction works can be complex requiring the input of structural engineers, contractors, scaffolders and advising engineers.
The more experience the Party Wall Surveyor has for the types of work taking place, the better placed they will be able to assist.
It is also worth bearing in mind, that you should also actively ask for the Party Wall Surveyor’s strategy and procedures in Party Wall Notice Service, undertaking the Schedule of Condition Reports and also agreeing the Party Wall Awards. These will all play a big role in the onward procedures so be sure to check they best suit your timeframe and objective.
A Party Wall Surveyor’s Qualifications
This is often a touchy subject amongst Party Wall Surveyors within the profession after all the Party Wall etc Act 1996 doesn’t specify the requirement for qualifications.
However, that being said, would you really want a Party Wall Surveyor who doesn’t have them advising you?
Within the property profession, there is a vast range of qualifications out there. Whether it be; RICS, CIOB, CABE, CIARB, FPWS or a multitude of others available.
Our advice would be to ensure that the Party Wall Surveyor you choose to represent you has sufficient qualification gained through the normal academic or professional pathways.
We would also advise researching into the route to entry when it comes to selecting your Party Wall Surveyor and doing your background checks on their qualifications. Some of these qualifications are far more difficult to obtain than others.
Party Wall Surveyor Insurance
Another key selection criteria should be the insurance that the Party Wall Surveyor has in place. A great deal of the governing bodies who provide Party Wall Surveyors with membership will require the Surveyor to hold adequate insurance protection their clients against fault.
That being said, we would always advise undertaking your own checks with the Party Wall Surveyor. A well established Party Wall Surveyor should have no issue in providing you with their Professional Indemnity Cover details.
A Party Wall Surveyors Complaint Handling Procedures (CHP)
Unfortunately, there are going to be occasions where you require this. Like any profession, mistakes can happen.
When they do, you will want to ensure that the Party Wall Surveyor has a reasonable and fair procedure in place to handle the complaint.
At the very least, we would advise checking to see if the Party Wall Surveyor is a member of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedure. Some of the most common ones are CEDR or Property Ombudsman.
Here procedures will ensure that when you are having your complaint heard, it is done so fairly and impartially.
Party Wall Surveyor Contact
Our final tip is to ensure that the Party Wall Surveyor you select has proficient contact procedures in pace. It goes without saying that the common ones are telephone, email, face to face meetings and written correspondence.
Surprisingly, there are Party Wall Surveyors who only offer contact by email. This can not only be frustrating but can also dramatically slow the procedures down!
Another point to consider is the annual leave or absence procedures the Party Wall Surveyor has in place. The last thing you will want is an out of office response with no means of contacting someone else within the Surveyor’s firm.
Here at Berry Lodge Surveyors, we pride ourselves on our Party Wall Surveying work.
We are proud to represent thousands of building owners and adjoining owners every year. Whether it be a private client, a local authority, charity or some of the largest companies in the UK, we have assisted them all.