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Property Surveying Blog
April 13, 2015

What is a Third Surveyor?

Written by Bradley Mackenzie

A third surveyor is in place on every two surveyor Party Wall job. However, on many occasions neither the building owner or the adjoining will even know there was ever another surveyor involved on the job until they receive Party Wall Award and discover one named within it.

Technically speaking the third surveyor has no formal standing in the process until a dispute is referred to them.

To understand the third surveyor’s role in the job we must first understand why and how they were selected in the first place.

A third surveyor is selected by both the building owner’s surveyor and the adjoining owner’s surveyor at the very start of the process and is usually a surveyor whom is not only highly distinguished within the profession, but also very experienced.

The common method for the third surveyor selection is for the building owner’s surveyor to send the adjoining owner’s surveyor a list of three third surveyor names.

The adjoining owner’s surveyor will then select one of those three names, or alternatively respond with some preferred names of his/her own.

When the two surveyors have agreed which surveyor they would like to select, that surveyor has been formerly selected in accordance with the Act.

The best way to look at this selection is in the form of a triangle, for each point of the triangle there is another surveyor; the building owner’s surveyor, the adjoining owner’s surveyor and then finally the third surveyor. – The three making up the tribunal for dispute resolution.

In the majority of jobs, the third surveyor will have no idea that they have been selected by the two surveyors. This is a fairly difficult concept to understand considering that the surveyor is named in the Award and after all the Award is a legal document.

Unlike both the building owner’s surveyor and the adjoining owner’s surveyor, the third surveyor is never appointed, instead he/she is selected.

What’s the difference you ask?

The appointed surveyors (the building owner’s surveyor and the adjoining owner’s surveyor) are appointed to resolve the dispute on behalf of the owners, whereas the third surveyor is selected by the two surveyors to determine any disputed matter.

The third surveyor’s role is commonly to resolve a dispute between the two surveyors. However, it can also be to take the place of one of the surveyors (the building owner’s surveyor or the adjoining owner’s surveyor) in the event that one of the surveyors doesn’t deal with manner in accordance with the statutory timeframes of the Act, thereby failing to Act. Alternatively the third surveyor can take place of one of the surveyors if one them refuses to act, again in accordance with the definitions of a refusal under the Act.

Generally speaking it is, or at least should be, the aim of the two surveyors to avoid a third surveyor referral, however on some jobs it can be the only way to resolve a difference in opinion between the two surveyors.

A little known fact about the third surveyor selection is that anyone who is a party to the dispute can refer a matter to the third surveyor. This includes the owners.

Third surveyor referrals are rarely made, however when they are the two surveyors should always inform their appointing owners of the referral.

By making or concurring in the referral, the surveyors are effectively putting their owners at risk of fees in the form of both surveyors’ referral fees as well as the third surveyor’s fee in resolving the dispute and dealing with the referral.

If you have a difficult party wall question or issue and want to get some experienced impartial advice from our Party Wall Surveying team call us now on 020 79352502 and we will be happy to assist.