Party Wall
May 1, 2024

Party Wall Surveyor Fees: What Adjoining Owners Need to Know

When it comes to party wall matters, one phrase that often reassures adjoining owners is, "In all normal circumstances...

In All Normal Circumstances

When it comes to party wall matters, one phrase that often reassures adjoining owners is, "In all normal circumstances, the fees of any appointed surveyors will be paid by the building owner." While this statement provides a sense of comfort, it's essential for adjoining owners to understand the nuances and exceptions surrounding party wall surveyor fees.

How Fees are Agreed

Section 10(13) of the Party Wall Act stipulates that it is the responsibility of the appointed surveyors to agree on who pays their fees. In practice, it's customary for the owner benefiting from the works to cover these costs. However, there are instances where this rule may not apply, leading to what we refer to as "abnormal circumstances."

Reasonableness

Occasionally, we encounter situations where adjoining owners, embroiled in disputes with their neighbours, seek to appoint expensive surveyors in an attempt to burden the building owner with substantial fees. While section 10(13) requires that fees be "reasonable," some surveyors may attempt to hold their appointing owner responsible for all fees, regardless of whether they are awarded. This underscores the importance of understanding the implications of the phrase "in all normal circumstances."

Extra Work

The principle of the building owner covering surveyor fees does not extend to disputes arising during or after the works. For instance, if an adjoining owner notices a crack they believe to be a result of the building works and requests an inspection, it would not be reasonable to charge the building owner if the crack predates the works. Additionally, if a dispute arises regarding the cause or cost of rectifying damage, and the surveyors rule in favour of the building owner, they may award that the adjoining owner covers their additional fees.

To avoid being saddled with unnecessary fees as an adjoining owner, it's crucial to approach the selection of a surveyor thoughtfully. Ensure that any fees agreed upon are reasonable and have been determined by the surveyors or the Third Surveyor. Moreover, it's essential to act reasonably in the event of disputes arising after the commencement of works.

Summary

In summary, while the phrase "in all normal circumstances" provides a general guideline, it's important for adjoining owners to understand the exceptions and complexities surrounding party wall surveyor fees. By being informed and acting judiciously, adjoining owners can navigate party wall matters with confidence and clarity, ensuring fair outcomes for all parties involved.