Party walls are boundary walls that are shared with neighbours and are most commonly found in flats, terraced, semi-detached and link-attached properties. As ownership of the wall is shared, any work carried out to the wall should be subject to an agreement.
In this guide, we’ll look at party wall notices and party wall agreements and how much they cost.
We can also put you in touch with a professional surveyor should you need this service.
A formal party wall agreement created by a surveyor serves several purposes:
- It protects the side carrying out the works against unfounded damage claims from the other side.
- It also protects the side not having any work carried out as they will be to prove any damage was caused by the builders and wasn’t pre-existing.
- It can settle disputes and allows the side wishing to carry out the renovation or building work to proceed.
- It creates conditions such as permitted work hours.
Party Wall Agreement Cost
The prices below were updated in 2022 and were sourced from a selection of surveyors from various locations around the UK.
These prices assume the surveyor acts on behalf of the building owner:
|Serve party wall notice||Free if done yourself otherwise £150 - £250|
|Party wall agreement for minor works||£500 - £1000|
|Per hour rate||£150 - £250|
If your neighbour doesn’t agree to use the same surveyor as you, you’ll have to pay twice, once for your surveyor and again for the time their surveyor spends on the project. This fee must be reasonable and is usually £150 – £250 per hour.
Example Party Wall Agreement Cost
In this scenario, you serve notice to a single neighbour with regards to a proposed loft extension.
They agree to use the same surveyor as you:
|Check documents and serve party wall notice||£200 (free if done yourself)|
|Party wall agreement for the building owner||£1300|
|Hourly rate for the survey and document changes/updates for the neighbour||4 hours @ £200 ph = £800|
What happens if the neighbour wishes to use their own surveyor?
You’ll still pay £1300 for the party wall agreement, plus the fees from the neighbour’s surveyor which could rise due to the time spent negotiating.
It’s always cheaper to use the same surveyor for both sides but the neighbour can use any surveyor they like provided the fees are reasonable.
Other Potential Costs
If the two surveyors enter into protracted negotiations then the costs will rise and if they can’t agree, a third surveyor should be appointed to make a final decision. The fees for the third surveyor are also usually paid by the building owner but the neighbour may be asked to pay a proportion in some circumstances.
Don’t forget that you’ll need to issue a party wall notice for any party wall that is affected by the works, so if you live in a mid-terraced home, you may have to pay twice, once for each neighbour.
Here are the steps one should take before carrying out any work to a party wall:
- Discuss the work informally with the neighbour first, if possible.
- Serve the neighbour with a party wall notice (there are many templates online).
- Proceed with the work if there is agreement.
- If the parties cannot agree, a surveyor (or two surveyors) should be appointed who will create a formal party wall agreement (often called an “award”)
- If the two sides appoint different surveyors and they cannot agree, then a third surveyor should be appointed to make a final decision.
Many building and renovation projects go ahead without either side using the services of a surveyor. If the two sides agree to the work and there is trust between both parties, the work can proceed but without a detailed survey, either side may struggle to prove that any damage was caused by the works or was pre-existing.
Disagreements can not only arise due to damage but also to changes to the wall, the extent of the building project, the permitted working hours, the methods used, access requirements and many other factors.
If the neighbour doesn’t consent to the work or doesn’t respond to the party wall notice within 14 days, the two parties will be in dispute and this is when the services of a surveyor will be required.
No two party wall agreements are ever the same and the cost of the agreement will depend on:
- Where you live as surveyors charge more in some parts of the UK than others.
- The level of risk to the neighbouring property.
- The complexity of the project.
- The type, completeness and quality of any drawings and designs.
- Whether one, two or three surveyors are required.
- Negotiations between the surveyors in the event of a protracted dispute.
Single Surveyor Versus Multiple Surveyor Prices
The cheapest option is to appoint a single surveyor who will act on behalf of both sides.
By choosing one surveyor, there is less travel time for them, less duplication, the likelihood of a dispute is reduced and the party wall agreement will be finalised quicker.
Most surveyors instructed to act on behalf of both sides will charge less than what two separate surveyors will charge.
Who Pays The Surveyor’s Fees?
In all normal circumstances, the building owner who issued the party wall notice will pay for the cost of the party wall agreement. The neighbouring side won’t normally pay anything, unless:
- They refer the dispute to a third surveyor who decides against them – this surveyor will award costs proportionally.
- They instruct the surveyor to carry out work which is outside the scope of the party wall act.
Is a Party Wall Agreement a Legal Requirement?
The party wall act stipulates that the building owner must issue a party wall notice with two months’ notice period (one month for excavations) and the receiving side has three options:
- Agree to the works.
- Ignore the notice.
If the receiving side disagrees with the notice or ignores it, then the building owner should appoint a surveyor after 14 days.
If the building owner starts work on a boundary wall without an agreement, the neighbour can apply for a stop order at the courts.
There are no penalties for failure to issue a party wall notice or for proceeding without agreement although if damage occurs and the building owner didn’t issue a notice, the courts will generally lean in favour of the other side. In reality, this means the building owner will need to prove that they didn’t cause the damage, which in most cases will be difficult as they won’t have a surveyor’s report created before the work commenced.
If both sides agree to the works as stated in the notice, then there is no legal requirement for a surveyor to be used.
When You Need to Send a Party Wall Notice
A party wall notice must be sent whenever works are planned that affect the boundary wall.
What to Do if the Other Side Ignores the Party Wall Notice
If the building owner who wishes to carry out the work issues a party wall notice and this is ignored and the other side refuses to engage in the process then both sides will be in dispute. After 14 days, the building owner should instruct a party wall surveyor to act on behalf of the neighbour.
The surveyor will attempt to contact the neighbour but if this fails, they will likely issue an award for the works to proceed. A 14 day notice period will also be issued and the neighbour can apply to the court within this timeframe if they disagree with the decision.
In most cases, the neighbouring side won’t completely ignore the party wall notice because doing so doesn’t benefit them. If they refuse to engage in the process then they won’t get a free surveyor’s report on the condition of the wall and they may struggle to prove that your builders caused any damage.
Just because a party wall notice has been ignored, doesn’t mean the work can proceed without a party wall agreement, it shouldn’t and there are risks to proceeding without such an agreement (see link below).
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