Party wall surveyor cost
If you share a wall with a neighbour - known as the party wall - and are undergoing building works then you may need to involve a party wall surveyor. This can complicate things, create more paperwork and add costs to your building project. But how much does a party wall surveyor cost? What can push the costs up? And who is responsible for paying what? Here's everything you need to know.
How much does a party wall surveyor cost?
Most party wall surveyors charge an hourly rate that is usually between £90 and £450 an hour. The cost of a party wall surveyor depends on where you are in the country and how much work they need to do.
The average project typically costs around £1,000 for a Party Wall Agreement. But this can rise depending on the complexity of the project and the number of surveyors involved. You could pay £900 for a straightforward loft conversion with only one party wall surveyor involved, but this could rise to around £6,000 for a basement building project with two surveyors.
While these averages give you an idea of a party wall surveyor cost in 2022, you should contact a local party wall surveyor to get a detailed quote.
The other factor that will affect how much your party wall surveyor costs, will be how much time it takes them to create your Party Wall Agreement. For example, a Party Wall Award involving several flats may cost more than an agreement between two neighbours in a semi-detached property.
Party wall surveyor costs also depend on how many surveyors are involved. Ideally, you and your neighbours will use one party wall surveyor but sometimes each owner involved opts to have their own party wall surveyor which can increase the costs.
What is a party wall?
A party wall is a wall shared by two (or more) properties. If you live in a semi-detached or terraced home, for example, a party wall would be the one that forms both part of yours and your neighbour’s property. A party wall is usually divided by the boundary line but can include a wall solely on one property, where an adjoining building derives support from it. It could also include a freestanding garden wall if it is built astride the boundary. Wooden fences are not included in this definition.
Why do I need a party wall surveyor?
If you, or your neighbour, are planning any work that affects a party wall you may need a party wall surveyor. Works that commonly affect party walls include loft conversions, inserting damp proof courses and digging foundations for extensions.
Party Wall Award
The surveyor’s job is to draw up a Party Wall Award, also known as a Party Wall Agreement. This will set out your rights and responsibilities, and that of the other owners of the party wall. It should cover how the building works will be carried out including acceptable working hours, how the party wall will be accessed and any other necessary agreements relating to the work. It will also include a ‘schedule of condition’. This is a detailed record including photographs of the adjoining properties’ condition prior to the start of building works. This serves as a record in the event of a dispute over areas affected by the building works.
Who pays the fees for a party wall surveyor?
Building works affecting a party wall
If you are planning building work that will affect a party wall, you need to inform any neighbouring properties affected by the work. Known as ‘serving notice’, this should be done in writing 2 months up to 1 year before building works begin. If your neighbours are happy with the planned works, and you agree terms under which work will be carried out, you may not need a Party Wall Agreement and not need to pay a surveyor. You should still prepare a ‘schedule of condition’ to avoid disputes later on. This can be agreed together or a surveyor could be appointed to prepare one.
However, if you can’t agree, then a Party Wall Surveyor will be needed to draw up an agreement. Usually, the owner who is planning the building work will pay all the costs associated with drawing up the Party Wall Agreement including paying the surveyor(s). You can appoint one impartial agreed surveyor to act for both you and your neigbhour or you can each have your own surveyor. The owner pays for all party wall survey fees.
Repairs to a party wall
According to the Government’s Party Wall etc Act 1996, the exception to this is if the work being proposed is needed due to a defect or repairs. In this case, costs may be split between you and your neighbour. How much you each pay will depend on how much use you each have of the structure or wall concerned and which of you bears responsibility for the defect or repair. It will be down to the Party Wall Surveyor to decide who pays the fees.
How much does it cost for three party wall surveyors?
Depending on the situation, you may need more than one Party Wall Surveyor. You and your neighbour may agree to use one joint surveyor to draw up the Party Wall Award. Or, you may find you can’t agree so each appoint your own Party Wall Surveyor. In this scenario, you may end up paying for three surveyors. This is because the two surveyors you each choose will also appoint a third surveyor. The third surveyor will only be called upon if the first two can’t reach an agreement.
If you and your neighbour are using separate party wall surveyors, then you can expect to double your costs. The final bill could go even higher if you end up paying a third surveyor to settle disagreements.
How to keep party wall surveyor costs down
The best way to avoid soaring party wall surveyor costs is to try to keep things friendly with your neighbour. Before you serve them a Party Wall Notice, have a friendly chat and discuss your plans. Show them sketches or plans for the work. Share your builder’s contact details so they can ask them questions too. You may agree the works without needing a Party Wall Surveyor or at least agree to just use one.
A bit of time spent on friendly relations at the start could save you thousands of pounds down the line. Get more tips on how to tackle the situation with our guide to getting a party wall agreement.