1. Visiting from the US? Why not try DIYnot.US instead? Click here to continue to DIYnot.US.
    Dismiss Notice

How to move forward the party wall agreement process

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by She17, 16 Aug 2016.

  1. She17

    She17

    Joined:
    16 Aug 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Thanks Received:
    1
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Hi
    I'm new posting to the forum but have lurking here for months getting as much info as possible before embarking on a loft conversion. Across all the forums the one thing I took on board was the need to communicate with neighbours, but I seem to have a neighbour who doesn't want to communicate at all and it's meant that the party wall process is taking way longer than necessary and i think will work out quite costly.

    I have a terraced house and plan a straightforward loft conversion. I informed neighbours either side, call them A and B before I put in for building regs/ and permitted development requests to local council. Once council paperwork was approved I then spoke to neighbours A & B and advised them that I would be sending them party wall notices and if they wanted to see plans discuss anything then just let me know. Neighbour A has been fine, received notice, didn’t dissent and has taken a real interest in the project (in fact can't believe i haven't started building already).

    Neighbour B started by telling me that I had my notice wrong as the "14 days reply or you have dissented" was wrong and his surveyor (who he had already engaged) told him so. That has been the start of my problems. Neighbour B and Surveyor B were adamant that Surveyor B would only work for neighbour B, which meant that I had to get my own surveyor.

    I delayed starting the party wall agreement to accommodate surveyor B by 3 weeks. We are now 6 weeks further on (9 weeks on in total) and we are now at a standstill because surveyor B has gone on leave again until the end of this month. The only reason my surveyor knew about the leave was an out of office message when he replied to an email that was mid conversation. He tried immediately to call Surveyor B but got voicemail instructing callers to not to leave voicemail as these would not be picked up until the end of the month.

    Also Surveyor B has refused to provide any indication of rates for their services, but in the meantime seems to be asking many questions that the party wall surveyor should be undertaking. The latest request (before surveyor B went on holiday) is that I should put scaffolding up so that he can climb it to inspect neighbour B roof.

    Can I ask is it normal for the householder doing the work to have to erect scaffolding before the awarding of a party wall agreement?

    In addition, if anyone has any ideas on how I can get neighbour B's surveyor to move a little faster i.e. drop the delaying tactics? I'm now wary of approaching neighbour B as he clearly wasn’t interested in what I had to say - in fact his words were that "he has boxes of documents relating to work his neighbour on the other side did previously and he has no interest in surveyor fees as he's not paying" hence me paying for 2 surveyors now.

    My builder has pretty much told me that we if do not start by mid sept work will need to rescheduled for next year. Therefore, any ideas or advice would be much appreciated.
     
  2. Sponsored Links
  3. jeds

    jeds

    Joined:
    16 Apr 2004
    Messages:
    4,260
    Thanks Received:
    568
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Which parts of your works involve the party wall itself?

    PS. I mean 'physically' involve the party wall.
     
  4. wessex101

    wessex101

    Joined:
    4 Jul 2013
    Messages:
    1,149
    Thanks Received:
    193
    Location:
    Dorset
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    It sounds like your surveyor is rather a waste of space. It is the building owners surveyor who drives the process and makes sure things move along promptly and ensure the adjoining owners surveyor is acting diligently and has everything in place such as a fee quote and all signed instructions.

    Insisting on scaffolding to carry out the schedule of condition is ridiculous. If access really cannot be achieved in the usual way it would be acceptable to place an item in the award that subsequent inspections will be made and the schedule amended once site set-up commences and access is available.

    Sounds like the neighbour has appointed one of his friends and is milking it, probably for a hefty kick back.

    The fundamental mistake you made was not making sure the neighbours were on side before you served the notice.

    As Jeds has said above, what works actually come under the party wall act?
     
  5. She17

    She17

    Joined:
    16 Aug 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Thanks Received:
    1
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    The method statement we have supplied says "insertion of steel beams and padstones/spreader plates into the party wall structure using hand tools to a depth not exceeding more than half the thickness of the wall"

    Unfortunately other than talking to neighbour B since before Xmas about intended loft conversion and not actually serving party wall notice until June (personally handed it to them with explanation) there's not much more I could do. I haven't had to engage with this neighbour in the past they've kept themselves to themselves, so can't even say we had a falling out and that's why they are behaving like this. All I know is that when I mentioned loft conversion he mentioned previous experience and said they would not agree to one surveyor acting for all parties. How do get a neighbour onside who's made up their mind way before you had the idea for your loft conversion?
     
  6. ^woody^

    ^woody^

    Joined:
    3 Sep 2006
    Messages:
    32,151
    Thanks Received:
    4,353
    Location:
    West Mids
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    The surveyor's duty is to the PW Act, not to whoever appoints them. They must take on the instruction to act for all parties as agreed surveyor if required, unless there is a very good reason not to, and a reason which would prevent him carrying out his duties. But then that potentially ties you to the whim of a surveyor who is most likely in cahoots with that building owner.

    Unless you require to use the Act for access, then change the work detail to that side and withdraw the notice.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  7. wessex101

    wessex101

    Joined:
    4 Jul 2013
    Messages:
    1,149
    Thanks Received:
    193
    Location:
    Dorset
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    For typical beam insertions in association with a loft conversion the process should be reasonably quick and simple. Probably take a week with owners surveyor charging about £1000 and adjoining owners surveyor £500 max.

    It sounds like your project has been derailed by the adjoining owner and your surveyor is not up to scratch to take them to task over their time wasting and prevarication. Insisting scaffold is erected to inspect the roof prior to preparing the award for the insertion of steel beams in the loft is frankly ridiculous and the fact that your surveyor did not pull this up is rather worrying.

    I suspect this will drag on for a few weeks yet and you will probably be hit with an eye watering bill from both surveyors (boxes of documents indeed!). Ask you surveyor for a statement of his fees to date and an estimate of "reasonable" fees for the adjoining owners surveyor. You can then take a view whether it is worth dis-instructing your surveyor, cancelling the notice and starting again from scratch.

    Otherwise you are unfortunately stuck with these 2 "surveyors" until they finally bring the process to its conclusion. Out of interest are either members of a professional institution so you have a formal complaints procedure?
     
  8. She17

    She17

    Joined:
    16 Aug 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Thanks Received:
    1
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Woody - the surveyor would not contemplate acting as the agreed surveyor. My builder thought i was joking and insited on speaking to the surveyor himself - he got same answer. When I found my own surveyor he again said " why don't you share surveyors as it will save money and time" so its not like I haven't tried.

    Wessex101 - I think you hit the nail on head about them both not being up to scratch. However my surveyor is on a fixed fee which I have in writing of £1100 (London prices). The neighbours surveyor refuses to discloses fees or hourly rates to date despite being asked several times by my surveyor over the last 6 weeks. I've told my surveyor that I don't think it will be reasonable for the other surveyor fees to be equal to or more than £1100.

    I've been told the work can't be done without touching the party wall, so I guess I am stuck there. Its a shame when you try to do things by the book that you get to a point where you feel like burning the book and just trying my luck and going ahead with the work!

    I think I have 4 options, cut my losses and instruct a different surveyor, do the work on the wall and take my chances, or go for the 10 day ex parte so my surveyor can do award. The third party surveyor is a very expensive route (£400ph). Not much of a choice...
     
  9. wessex101

    wessex101

    Joined:
    4 Jul 2013
    Messages:
    1,149
    Thanks Received:
    193
    Location:
    Dorset
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    He probably refused to act as agreed surveyor because then he cannot drag the process out with pointless quibbling and procrastination thereby greatly increasing his fee. Good job your surveyor is on a fixed fee, I've never seen that before.

    Bit worrying that the adjoining owners surveyor refuses to confirm his fee rate, I'm not sure that is legal, have you or your surveyor seen a copy of his instruction? Make sure it is legit and has been signed by all the owners of the property. Quite common to forget to get wife/partner to sign which invalidates the instruction and surveyor cannot act. The good news is you are only liable for his "reasonable" fees the bad news is if his fee goes to dispute the Third Surveyor gets involved. £400/hour, wow, is that what Third Surveyors are charging in London these days?

    The ex parte award is probably a non-starter. The surveyor going on holiday in August can hardly be taken as neglect unless your surveyor sent the draft award 10 days or more before he went on holiday.
     
  10. Sponsored Links
  11. Nakajo

    Nakajo

    Joined:
    5 Dec 2014
    Messages:
    2,004
    Thanks Received:
    178
    Location:
    Berkshire
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Well, it's not exactly acting in a way that 'promotes trust in the profession', so does seem a bit odd.
     
  12. ^woody^

    ^woody^

    Joined:
    3 Sep 2006
    Messages:
    32,151
    Thanks Received:
    4,353
    Location:
    West Mids
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    You can't de-instruct a surveyor, neither can he stop acting as the surveyor unless he dies or becomes similarly incapable. That's why I suggested changing the work and cancelling the notice, as that's the only way to stop things going on with an instructed surveyor.

    If he does belong to s profession, then make a complaint. But TBH, that won't help much and won't move things on.

    You need to take control of the situation, otherwise your bill is going to go through the roof more so than your loft conversion. You may well have to ignore them and just crack on and call their bluff.

    Start by telling BO surveyor that you are not paying him unless you get a cost estimate, which he is obliged to provide.
     
  13. She17

    She17

    Joined:
    16 Aug 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Thanks Received:
    1
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Woody, ok I think I have a plan of action. First thing is to take control I hear that loud and clear! Then I will do the following:
    1. Get other surveyor to confirm fees Asap and I will do that directly not through my appointed surveyor.
    2. Talk to structural engineer to see if possible to do work without touching party wall and what impact this has on PD cert/building regs and loft room size. If possible to change way work is carried out I will cancel party wall process Asap.
    3. do formal complaint.

    I'm hoping I can get definitive answer to point 2 tomorrow.

    Wessex101 I will ask my surveyor to get a copy of the instruction like you mentioned.

    I believe a draft award has been sent already, including a schedule of condition which the other surveyor keeps omitting to agree to. What he has done so far is come up with additional questions which delays us moving forward.

    I've spoken to third surveyor - very nice man and he advised ex parts rogue as the cheaper option, he readily acknowledges his fees are steep.

    Thanks to everyone for input so far will update as soon as I get some answers.
     
  14. RichA

    RichA

    Joined:
    3 Aug 2005
    Messages:
    640
    Thanks Received:
    27
    Location:
    Surrey Hills
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Presume this isn't going to take long. What is the worse that could/would happen if OP just went ahead and did the work? Liable for any damage?
     
  15. drpepe

    drpepe

    Joined:
    4 Feb 2014
    Messages:
    176
    Thanks Received:
    9
    Location:
    Bristol
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    I guess OP is liable for any damage with or without the PWA... so how important is it , really?
     
  16. Nakajo

    Nakajo

    Joined:
    5 Dec 2014
    Messages:
    2,004
    Thanks Received:
    178
    Location:
    Berkshire
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Without a survey, the neighbour may claim that pre-existing damage to their wall was as a result of these works. Extraordinary as it seems, case law has in effect established that the onus is on the defendant to prove that this is not the case! The Act is a poor piece of legislation but you shouldn't ignore it.
     
  17. jeds

    jeds

    Joined:
    16 Apr 2004
    Messages:
    4,260
    Thanks Received:
    568
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    My advice is change the method and get on with it. There are usually ways to achieve this that may be more expensive but not as expensive as surveyors fees when those surveyors treat it as a gravy train - and I speak as a surveyor that does quite a bit of party wall work.
     
Loading...

Share This Page