What is a third surveyor?
When a Party Wall Notice is given, and no agreement is finalised between two neighbours, they will both appoint surveyors to help guide the process and reach an agreement. In rare cases, when no agreement is reached following a Party Wall Notice, a third surveyor must be selected to resolve the dispute in an objective manner.
Third surveyors are selected by the surveyors who are appointed by the building owner (surveyor one) and their neighbour (surveyor two). The third surveyor is selected as a third party to resolve the dispute.
Whichever neighbour is found to be at fault, the third surveyor’s fees will be directed towards them. This is why it pays to use an initial Party Wall surveyor who understands how to resolve Party Wall issues.
What are the fees of a third surveyor?
The fees for a third surveyor vary, however it is important to note that they are being brought in to resolve a matter that the two other surveyors cannot resolve. In this sense, they will likely be more senior and more experienced if they have been selected to judge impartially on the issue.
For this reason, a third surveyor’s fees can be costly - expect at least £600 for a referral. These fees fall onto the party who is judged to be at fault, which puts both the initial building owner and the second neighbour at financial risk. It is recommended to avoid the use of a third surveyor where possible as it puts all parties at risk.
Challenging a Party Wall Award
Once the Party Wall Notice process is over and the third surveyor has assessed the situation, the third surveyor will hand a Party Wall Award which details the work and outlines what can be expected to happen from that point forward.
Both the building owner and their neighbour can appeal this award on the basis that they think it is unjust or incorrect. To appeal it, they will need to understand the government legislation around Party Wall appeals and be willing to take their case to court.
To appeal a Party Wall Award, the neighbour in question must lodge an appeal with the County Court. However, it is important to note that if this issue has already gone through three surveyors, it may be unlikely that an appeal will come to fruition in court. It is always advised to get legal advice before lodging such an appeal.
Challenging a Party Wall Award may seem simple, but beware. Once the appeal is made, if the Court disagrees with the appeal, then the neighbour lodging the appeal will be liable for costs that occurred due to the delay in construction work and costs incurred for the neighbour.
It can be a messy affair, so it is always recommended to contact a surveyor who can help you reach a resolution before challenging the Party Wall Award.
Please note this article does not constitute legal advice and is for information purposes only. For further information about Party Wall and to discuss your Party Wall queries, please find out more here.