An explanatory guide to the Party Wall etc. Act 1996
14. Who pays the surveyor’s fees?
The surveyor (or surveyors) will decide who pays the fees for drawing up the award and for checking that the work has been carried out in accordance with the award. Usually the Building Owner will pay all costs associated with drawing up the award if the works are solely for his benefit.
15. Is the surveyor’s award final?
The Award is final and binding unless it is amended by the Court. Each owner has 14 days to appeal to the county court against an award. An appeal should only be made to the county court if an owner believes that the surveyors’ determination is fundamentally wrong.
An appeal should not be undertaken lightly and an owner considering an appeal may well wish to seek legal advice.
16. Who pays for the building works?
Your agreement with the Adjoining Owner, or the award in the event of a dispute, will set this out.
The general principle in the Act is that the Building Owner who initiated the work pays for it if the works are solely for his benefit. However, there are cases where the Adjoining Owner may pay part of the cost, for example:
• where work to a party wall is needed because of defects or lack of repair for which the Adjoining Owner may be responsible (in full or in part).
• where an Adjoining Owner requests that additional work should be done for his benefit.
Where the dispute resolution procedure is called upon, the award may deal with apportionment of the costs of the work. The dispute procedure may be used specifically to resolve the question of costs if this is the only matter in dispute.
17. What happens if the neighbours won’t cooperate?
If a dispute has arisen and the neighbouring owner refuses to appoint a surveyor under the dispute resolution procedure, you can appoint a second surveyor on his behalf, so that the procedure can go ahead — see paragraphs 11 and 12. In these circumstances you will not be able to appoint an “agreed surveyor”. Your own surveyor will advise you on the appointment of a second surveyor on behalf of the Adjoining Owner.
18. What about access to neighbouring property?
Under the Act, an Adjoining Owner and/or occupier must, when necessary, let in your workmen and your own surveyor or architect etc., to carry out works in pursuance of the Act (but only for those works), and allow access to any surveyors appointed as part of the dispute resolution procedure.
You must give the Adjoining Owner and occupier notice of your intention to exercise these rights of entry. The Act says that 14 days’ notice must usually be given. It is an offence, which can be prosecuted in the magistrates’ court, to refuse entry to or obstruct someone who is entitled to enter premises under the Act, if the offender knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the person is entitled to be there.
If the adjoining property is closed (for example an unoccupied property) your workmen and your own surveyor or architect etc. may enter the premises after following proper procedures if they are accompanied by a police officer.
You should discuss access for other works with your neighbour. It is often in the best interests of the Adjoining Owner to allow access voluntarily to build a wall or carry out works for which there is no statutory right of access, as this will allow a better finish to the side of the wall that they will see.