Party Wall
Apr 30, 2024

How to Keep Party Wall Costs Down

When undertaking a building project, the complexities of party wall procedures can significantly inflate costs if not...

When undertaking a building project, the complexities of party wall procedures can significantly inflate costs if not managed efficiently. However, there are strategies that both property owners and surveyors can employ to mitigate expenses and streamline the process. 

1. Pre-emptive Communication with Neighbours

Initiating informal discussions with neighbouring property owners before serving formal notices can foster goodwill and potentially expedite the process. By explaining the project's scope and addressing concerns, property owners can increase the likelihood of obtaining consent or an Agreed Surveyor being appointed, thus avoiding protracted negotiations.

2. Clarify the Implications of Consent

Many property owners mistakenly believe that consenting to party wall notices absolves the building owner of responsibility for damages caused by the works. It's crucial to dispel this misconception during initial discussions, emphasizing that consent does not compromise their rights to seek recourse for any damages incurred, but an award does offer additional protection.

3. Selecting a Competent Surveyor

Choosing a surveyor with the requisite expertise and experience is paramount to navigating party wall procedures efficiently. While opting for a surveyor based solely on cost may seem prudent, investing in a seasoned professional can yield long-term savings by minimising disputes and ensuring fair outcomes.

4. Negotiate Fees

Engaging in fee negotiations with surveyors can result in cost savings, especially if the project's complexity is accurately assessed beforehand. Property owners should explore the possibility of fixed fees or discounts for streamlined services to align costs with their budgetary constraints.

5. Offer a Schedule of Condition

Addressing adjoining owners' concerns about potential damages by offering to cover the costs of a schedule of condition can incentivise consent. By documenting the pre-existing condition of neighbouring properties, property owners can mitigate disputes and expedite the approval process.

6. Professional Service of Notices

While property owners may be tempted to serve party wall notices themselves to cut costs, this approach often backfires due to technical inaccuracies. Engaging a professional surveyor to handle notice service ensures compliance with legal requirements and instils confidence in neighbouring property owners.

7. Strategic Notice Phasing

Carefully timing the service of party wall notices can minimize the number of surveyors involved and, consequently, reduce fees. By initially serving notices to freehold owners and strategically managing responses, property owners can streamline the process and avoid unnecessary expenses.

8. Design Considerations

Incorporating party wall considerations into the project's design phase can pre-emptively address potential issues, minimizing the need for costly modifications later on. Designing with party wall requirements in mind, such as eccentric foundations or setback dormers, can optimise construction efficiency and mitigate disputes.

9. Early Initiation of the Process

Commencing the party wall process well in advance allows for ample time to coordinate with neighbouring property owners and surveyors. Early initiation facilitates efficient notice service, negotiation, and resolution, thereby reducing delays and associated costs.

10. Prompt Appointment of Surveyors

In cases where adjoining owners fail to respond to notices within the specified timeframe, property owners must appoint surveyors to progress the works. Prompt appointment of surveyors, coupled with strategic selection to minimize travel time, expedites the process and mitigates potential delays.

11. Collaboration on Advising Engineers

When complex works such as underpinning or excavation are involved, collaborating with adjoining owners' surveyors on appointing advising engineers can optimise cost-effectiveness. Co-ordinating with surveyors to select a shared advising engineer minimizes redundant expenses and fosters efficient resolution of technical matters.

12. Carrying out Works Properly

If the builder causes issues by way of implementing the wrong methodology and accidents happen, this will result in further complications, which will need to be dealt with by the surveyors and which carry an additional cost. Be sure to hire a competent contractor so that everything is done correctly the first time.