Party wall surveyors are professionals who deal with the legal aspects of alterations, extensions and works to party walls. As the name suggests, a party wall is a wall that stands on land owned by two or more different landowners. It is important to have an experienced party wall surveyor when undertaking any type of building work, as they will provide vital advice and guidance throughout the process. Understanding their expertise can be extremely helpful in ensuring that your project runs smoothly and is legally compliant.
What is a party wall surveyor?
A party wall surveyor is a professional who has specialist knowledge of the various laws relating to building work near or around a shared boundary or ‘party’ wall between two properties. They are qualified under the Party Wall etc Act 1996 to provide advice, guidance and reports to both domestic and commercial clients. Their expertise covers all aspects of construction from design to completion, ensuring compliance with the legislation governing such projects. Essentially, their role is to facilitate communication between neighbours regarding potential issues arising from proposed works that may affect the property rights of either neighbour.
How do you choose a professional?
Choosing a professional party wall surveyor should not be taken lightly, as they will need to be experienced enough to deal with your specific needs efficiently and effectively, whilst being aware of all the relevant legislation that applies in this area. Here are some tips on how to choose the perfect party wall surveyor for you:
- Research –
Online research is always helpful as you can access reviews from previous clients about their experiences with particular firms or individuals. You should also check the qualifications of potential candidates before deciding who best suits your requirements;
- Accreditation –
When looking for a party wall surveyor, make sure they belong to an accredited organisation such as the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors (FPWS). This will ensure that your chosen individual has passed rigorous tests and has the appropriate qualifications;
- Experience –
Ensure that the person you choose has experience of working on projects similar to yours, so that they can provide informed advice in accordance with local planning regulations;
- Communication –
Ensure that they communicate clearly with you and other stakeholders to achieve satisfactory solutions quickly;
- References –
Ask for references on previous projects they have completed so that you can accurately assess their performance;
- Insurance –
Finally, check that they have the appropriate insurance cover required for such projects, should anything go wrong during the course of the project.
What services do they offer?
In addition to providing general advice on all matters relating to existing or proposed shared boundary works, a qualified party wall surveyor can provide the following services
- Review designs/plans submitted by architects & engineers prior to commencement of works;
- Prepare & serve notices, where required, on the commencement of works within close proximity (up to 6m) of neighbouring properties;
- Issue written consents/refusals after considering all relevant information & comments from third parties;
- Issue arbitration awards where disputes arise between adjoining owners over matters such as damage caused by nearby works, etc;
- Provide detailed post completion inspections/measurements, however long these may take, until final settlement is reached, if required, e.g. schedule implementation over time rather than a lump sum payment up front;
Having gone through the above points, it becomes quite clear why having an experienced party wall surveyor on board is essential when undertaking any type of building project near or around shared boundaries, even though at first glance it may seem like an additional cost, but on closer inspection it becomes clear why having one on board makes complete financial sense too, especially if things start to go wrong during the course of completing said project!