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Property Surveying Blog

Written by Bradley Mackenzie

In this blog post we will be discussing the role of a checking engineer, when they are applicable, what they do and how they can be of benefit to an adjoining owner’s Party Wall Surveyor.

Before we start, it is worth confirming that a checking engineer can also be referred to as an advising engineer, consulting engineer or adjoining owner’s surveyor’s engineer.

Checking engineers are usually called upon by the adjoining owner’s Party Wall Surveyor on a Party Wall job that is not only complex, but also carries a considerable risk to the adjoining owner’s property.

The checking engineer’s role will be to review the building owner’s structural design, calculations and specifications from the perspective of the adjoining owner’s property and assess the structural risk that the works carry.

The engineer will then effectively advise the adjoining owner’s surveyor if the proposals are structurally sound, or alternatively if they can be amended or adjusted to reduce risk.

Checking engineers are usually called upon in jobs that include the following types of construction work.

  • Basement Conversions
  • Subterranean rooms and extensions
  • Jobs whereby the building owner intends to underpin the Party Wall or underpin the adjoining owner’s property
  • Any other job that carries significant structural risk

All structural construction work carries some level of risk, however both the building owner’s engineer and the checking engineer need to ensure that the risk is as low as it can possibly be as that will ultimately ensure that the risk of damage to the adjoining owner’s property is as low as it can be.

Engineering solutions are often designed based off the engineer’s experience and background, therefore it wouldn’t be uncommon for one engineer to design an engineering solution differently to another engineer.

The checking engineer’s role isn’t to redesign the solution or pick fault in the building owner’s engineer’s design. Instead they will often review the solution and point out areas where they believe the design could be improved or adjusted in such a manner to further reduce the potential risk to the adjoining owner’s property.

Under the Party Wall etc Act 1996 the building owner is responsible for the checking engineer’s reasonable fee, therefore building owners are often fairly reluctant to find out a checking engineer has been requested or appointed.

Our view here at Berry Lodge Surveyors is it is worth bearing in mind that a couple of hours of a checking engineer’s fee is a far cheaper price to pay than costly making good to the adjoining owner’s property.

Once a checking engineer is appointed the surveyors tend to take a step back and allow the engineers to correspond directly thereby arriving at the final agreed structural design.

Once this has been reached the engineers will then confirm they have completed their roles and the surveyors will then proceed to agreeing the Party Wall Award.

Here at Berry Lodge Surveyors we are often involved in Party Wall jobs that require the input of a checking engineer, over the years we have worked with many and are always happy to recommend those that we have found to be both time and cost effective.

If you are planning on undertaking Party Wall work and would like to speak to our Party Wall Team, call us now on 0207 935 2502 and one of our Party Wall Surveyors will be happy to assist you.