Party Wall Costs
How much does a Party Wall Agreement cost?
The cost of a party wall agreement can vary depending on the surveyors used and the complexity of the case. Party wall awards which are straight forward and have very little cost usually make the majority of work for BTN Surveyors because we aim to find an agreement between owners from the outset. Unfortunately, some surveyors and their practices aim for disputes which allows them to charge extortionate fees for their time.
Most party wall surveyors will charge a nominal fee to issue party wall notices or party wall act letters, which is well worth paying for. Schedules of condition are of paramount importance, whether an agreement is reached immediately or not, because this protects all parties from costly disputes over damage that may or may not have been caused by the works. If a claim from a neighbour cannot be ratified by a condition report then it will be difficult for a claim to be upheld.
If a dispute arises then most party wall surveyors will charge an hourly rate which can range dramatically. Whilst there are some more reparable practitioners, unfortunately there are some surveyors which offer a fixed fee, but this is typically considered a false economy within the industry and often a dubious ploy to win more work. In reality many of these fixed fee surveyors are only prepared to do a certain amount of work for their fee, usually inline with a typical hourly rate. Once the amount of hours they're prepared to do for the fixed fee expires they tend to then expect the other surveyor (usually the adjoining owners surveyor) to do the rest of the work, resulting in a larger bill for the next door neighbours surveyor and your surveyor unwilling to maintain pace or communication - you have been warned!
Who pays for a Party Wall Agreement?
Unless the adjoining owner has special requests for different or additional works within the building owners building works proposal, the building owner wishing to carry out the works will cover the cost of the party wall act process.
These costs typically comprise of the following elements:
1. Serving of compliant party wall notices
2. Preparation of a Schedule of Condition
3. The preparation of a party wall agreement - should the adjoining owner agree from the outset
4. The cost of a party wall surveyor as an "agreed" surveyor in the event that the neighbour, whilst unhappy with the works, is happy to use the building owners surveyor (the surveyor should remain impartial).
OR if the adjoining owner unhappy with the proposed works is also unwilling to use the building owners surveyor and wishes to nominate their own;
5. Three surveyors - one for each party and one as "third surveyor" to create a tribunal. The third surveyor is only usually called upon in the event of an impasse being reached by the two appointed surveyors.
Whilst this can seem an expensive list of requirements to fulfil, it is a legal requirement in the same way as planning permission and building regulations and it is much cheaper than a legal case that will result in delays to the works, a large legal bill, and still require you to complete your party wall act legal requirements before work could commence.
Who pays for Party Wall Damage?
Who pays for party wall damage will typically depend on the circumstance of the damage. How the damage is handled depends on whether the legal obligations of the party wall act have been followed.
If damage to a party wall occurs whilst building works is being carried out then it will be the responsibility of the building owner undertaking the works. If the works have been undertaken outside of the party wall act and as such there is no party wall agreement, the affected owner will need to seek legal advice and pursue the offending neighbour through the courts (assuming they are not prepared to accept responsibility). The cost of such action is likely to be high and more often than not will result in a delay to the works for the building owner and a sizeable legal bill adding to the project costs, work will then not be able to commence until a party wall surveyor(s) has produced an award and been through the party wall process as it should have been done initially. It's also worth mentioning that from a judges perspective they tend to frown upon owners who have not satisfied their legal responsibilities by following the party wall act from the outset.
This is one of the major reasons why not following the party wall act as you are legally required is a false economy.
If the party wall act has been followed correctly, correct and valid notices have been served then in the event of unforeseen damage to the party wall during the process will result in a simple resolution from an appointed party wall surveyor - no need for slow and costly court proceedings. If a schedule of condition was conducted prior to the commencement of works, this will be reviewed by the surveyor against the damage in question. A judgement will then be made as to whether or not the building works were in fact responsible for the damage and if so, the building owner responsible will be obliged to make the necessary repairs or fund the repairs as well as any additional loss the affected owner may have suffered.