Serving a party wall Notice
There are many party wall surveyors offering to serve notices at very low prices or offering free party wall notice templates which you fill in yourself. You will notice on the free templates that there is an option for the adjoining owner to appoint them (the surveyor offering the free template) as the agreed surveyor and you will not have received a fee quote. It is possible that if you have not been given a fee quote the adjoining owner may appoint, who you perceive to be your surveyor, as adjoining owner’s surveyor, thereby forcing you (financially) to concur in their appointment as agreed surveyor. The surveyor will be in a position to charge what he feels as s/he is not in a competitive situation.
My experience has shown that in many circumstances the adjoining owner receives a notice that has obviously been filled in by the building owner themselves. The adjoining owner concerned that the building owner is looking to cut corners quite often appoints a surveyor to act on their behalf, whereby, a notice received from a professional may invoke a more positive response and possibly give your neighbour confidence to consent to the works or appoint your surveyor to act as agreed surveyor. Therefore, the initial saving made by serving your own notice may be short lived and a false economy.
It is not uncommon for me to have to re-serve the notice(s) due to discrepancies, especially when the Adjoining Owner appoints their own surveyor. This will quite often delay the process.
Adjoining Owner receiving a party wall notice
If you have received a correctly served party wall notice you should have at least three options. Notices served by me have four.
It should be noted that if works are to commence prior to the expiration of the notice period consent for this will be required from the adjoining owner.
The options are
consent - which means that if you consent to the works then the Building Owner is free to commence works, subject to you agreeing to waive the commencement date indicated in the notice. This does not mean you lose any rights as you can still appoint a surveyor in the event of a dispute or damage being caused.
consent subject to carrying out a schedule of condition of your property prior to commencing work. In the event of any damage being caused then there is a record on hand for comparison. This is an option I include.
Appoint the Building Owner's surveyor as 'Agreed Surveyor'. The surveyor then acts on behalf of both parties in an impartial manner. The surveyor will prepare and serve an Award which is binding on both parties.
The fourth option is that you appoint your own surveyor. In most cases the Building Owner will pay his fees. However, in some instances I have sought to apportion unnecessary costs back to the Adjoining Owner. for example
If you have appointed your own surveyor without any concern for the costs you may be unnecessarily incurring upon your neighbour.
If you have received unsolicited mail from a party wall surveyor telling you the Building Owner will pay all fees you may well be in for a shock, especially as you may have signed terms and conditions which make you liable for their fees in the event of any shortfall.
In most domestic situations an agreed surveyor should be sufficient, subject to his/her knowledge of the Act. This is what was proposed when the current Act was being proposed to Parliament.