Party Wall & Chartered Surveyor FAQs

What is a chartered surveyor (UK)?

Chartered surveyors offer impartial, specialist advice on a variety of property related issues. For residential clients their service includes building surveys, defect reports, homebuyer reports, and party wall advice. They can also offer consultancy for projects, and expert advice and evidence in dispute resolution and court cases. 

Chartered status means the surveyor is experienced and has passed stringent entry requirements. A chartered surveyor is bound by the regulations of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Chartered surveying firms must state that they are “Regulated by RICS” and maintain a complaint handling procedure and professional indemnity insurance.

What qualifications do you need to be a chartered surveyor in the UK?

To become a chartered surveyor, you must follow an approved training course of at least three years and then undertake a minimum two-year period of in-work competence training, known as the assessment of professional competence (APC). This is followed by a professional entrance interview. If you pass this (and for chartered building surveyors, the pass rate is less than 60%) you can become a member of RICS. It’s not easy and requires a breadth and depth of knowledge and professionalism which is reflected in the service they provide. 

How much does a chartered surveyor cost UK?

The hourly rate varies depending upon the seniority and experience of the chartered surveyor, the type of work being undertaken and the location of that work. Expect hourly rates for a chartered surveyor to range from £120 to more than £500. According to Jobs in Reed.co.uk (August 2022), the average salary for a chartered surveyor is around £55k.

What is the difference between a surveyor and chartered surveyor?

The word ‘surveyor’ is not a protected title like architect or solicitor. This means anyone can call themselves a surveyor and can do so with no training at all. They may know nothing, something or everything about their specialist field, but you won’t know that when you commission them.

Chartered status means the surveyor is regulated (and accredited by) RICS. This is identifiable by the letters MRICS (member) of FRICS (fellow) after their names. 

An AssocRICS is an associate of the RICS, but not chartered. However, they are experienced and regulated.

Unlike ‘surveyors’, chartered surveyors (firms and sole practitioners) must maintain adequate professional indemnity insurance and conduct themselves in an ethical and professional manner. It is your assurance that the surveyor you are engaging is suitably trained, experienced and regulated with a professional system of redress should you have a complaint or cause for concern.

Do I need a chartered surveyor?

No. You can choose a surveyor who is not chartered, but is experienced. You may even wish to use your mate the builder, even though he may not have had any training at all, or you might decide not to bother. However, we can’t stress enough that if you do require a survey or party wall work, for example, you should always use a surveyor, and pick them carefully. As a firm of chartered surveyors, we meet all the regulatory requirements of the RICS.

Why do you need a chartered surveyor?

If you want assurance that the surveyor you are engaging is suitably trained, experienced and regulated with a professional system of redress should you have a complaint or cause for concern, you need a chartered surveyor.

When do you need a chartered surveyor?

Chartered surveyors will provide an experience, competent and regulated service for a range of instructions including:

  • Building survey – if you are buying a new home for example
  • Homebuyer report
  • Single defect report
  • Schedule of Conditions for landlords, for example
  • Party wall agreement
  • Dispute resolution (related to the above services)

If you appoint a surveyor who is not chartered, you are not assured of experience, quality of work, a system of redress, or that they have professional indemnity insurance.

Do you need a surveyor to serve a party wall notice?

No. You can do it all yourself using our Party Wall forms and templates. However, you may prefer to appoint a party wall surveyor experienced in party wall matters because if you get it wrong at any stage (and there can be a lot of work involved depending on complexity of your neighbouring properties), you may have to stop your building works. 

You MUST use a surveyor to complete the process if your neighbour objects to the work and requires a party wall agreement  or award. The law says that a party to the dispute (that’s you) cannot act as the party wall surveyor. 

What does a party wall survey include?

The party wall surveyor (or surveyors) will prepare a Party Wall ‘Award’ (sometimes known as a Party Wall Agreement’. This is a document which:

  • Sets out the work that will be carried out.
  • Says when and how the work is to be carried out (for example, not at weekends if the buildings are domestic properties).
  • Records the condition of next door before the work begins (so that any damage can be properly attributed and made good).
  • Allows access for the surveyors to inspect the works while they’re going on (to see that they are in accordance with the award).
  • May place other obligations such as insurance.
  • Confirm who pays the surveyors costs.

It is a good idea to keep a copy of the award with your property deeds.

How much is a party wall surveyor in the UK?

It depends on the complexity of the work, it’s location and the number of neighbours. But for a simple residential extension, you can expect a fee of around £1000 in London and less elsewhere.  For acting as building owner’s surveyor and preparing and issuing Party Wall Notices and a Party Wall Award, we will charge a fixed fee depending on location. Usually, this is between £795 (for very local matters) and £995 plus VAT. These costs are per neighbour, so if there are two neighbours, the cost will be more. See our fixed price awards for more information.

What does a party wall surveyor do?

Party wall surveyors will issue notices on your behalf if you are carrying out works. If you are next door to building work, the surveyor will ensure that you are properly protected either by responding correctly on your behalf to a party wall notice, or by contacting your neighbour.

How long does the party wall process take?

The survey itself doesn’t take a great deal of time, but writing the notices, the administrative tasks, confirming agreement, etc, will usually take between five and seven hours for a simple party wall agreement. If there are more challenging circumstances, or the neighbour refuses to give agreement, then it can take much longer.

Can I act as my own party wall surveyor?

No, but you can serve your own notices. We have a set of Party Wall forms and Notice templates that you can download. You would not be classed as a ‘surveyor’ though; you would simply be undertaking the administrative task of putting notices in place. You will need a professional surveyor if your neighbour objects.

How much should I pay for a party wall surveyor?

For a simple piece of residential work, you should expect to pay between £700 and £1200 plus VAT for a party wall award. If you are doing the building work, then you are also liable for your neighbour’s surveyor’s fees. Sometimes, other professionals are called upon to advise. For instance, structural engineers sometimes need to check complex structural calculations and proposals when the work is complicated. This often happens when a basement is planned. The surveyors will decide who pays the fees and include this in the party wall award. Again, it is usually the person doing the work who pays these costs.

Can a neighbour refuse a party wall agreement?

No. If the planned work is authorised by the Party Wall Act, your neighbour cannot refuse. But they can insist on a party wall award being prepared. Each neighbour will need to appoint a party wall surveyor to draw up the award between them. Both party wall surveyors will nominate a ‘third surveyor’ who would be called in to arbitrate if both wall surveyors cannot agree.  

As an alternative, both parties can appoint jointly what the Party Wall Act calls an ‘agreed surveyor’ to draw up a ‘party wall award’. This is one surveyor acting for both sides. It is the quickest and most cost-effective way of getting an Award in place.

In all cases, surveyors appointed to negotiate and prepare an award or party wall agreement must behave impartially and consider the interests of both neighbours. They do not act as advocates for each side. For more details about disputes, see Resolving disputes’.

What happens if I don't get a reply to my notice requesting a party wall agreement?

If a dispute has arisen and the neighbouring owner refuses or fails to appoint a surveyor, you can appoint a surveyor on their behalf. That surveyor will then work with your surveyor to put an Award in place. If your neighbour refuses access, or to cooperate, the surveyors will serve the Award regardless. 

Do I have to pay for my neighbour’s surveyor?

The surveyors will decide who pays the fees for drawing up the award. Usually, the person who undertakes the work will pay all reasonable costs associated with drawing up the award. So, in a nutshell, you are most likely to pay.

Do I need a party wall agreement to sell my house?

No. A party wall agreement is only for building works affecting a party wall, but if you come to sell and a surveyor thinks there should have been a party wall award this might cause a delay.

Do I need a party wall award for building work?

No, you must serve party wall notices to your neighbour if the work affects a party wall, boundary, or involves excavation close to your neighbour. If your neighbour agrees to this, no award is required.

Do you need to pay for a party wall agreement?

You don’t need to pay for the agreement, but you will need to pay the surveyor, or other professional’s fees, if they need to get involved.

When should a party wall surveyor be appointed?

You don’t need to appoint a party wall surveyor to serve a notice. You could complete one of our templates and follow the correct process through to agreement if you have the capacity. However, if any dispute arises, you will need a professional chartered surveyor involved to get the party wall agreement finalised.

What makes a party wall award invalid?

It isn’t about making the party wall award invalid, it’s the process. Errors in your party wall notices, failure to follow correct timescales and procedure, leaving works off the notices, irregular appointments, can all invalidate the party wall process and mean that any agreement is invalid and cannot be enforced. If this happens, you will have to start again, which may mean suspending your building works while you sort it out. That is why it is recommended that you use a surveyor.

Is a party wall award legally binding?

Yes. It overrides your other common law rights in relation to works covered by the Party Wall Act. Either side has 14 days to appeal to the County Court against an award. Sometimes, if the work changes or you do something different, the surveyors will need to agree a further ‘Award’ to cover this. However, once everything is agreed you can proceed with your work.

What happens if neighbour ignores the party wall notice?

If a neighbour simply refuses to reply to a party wall notice, then after a period of time you can appoint a surveyor to act for them.  Contact us if you need help. 

What if my neighbour doesn’t serve me a party wall notice?

You should take advice. It may well be that you will need to obtain an injunction preventing work from progressing until a notice is served and an Award agreed. This can be expensive.  Contact us if you need help. 

How long is a party wall award valid for?

A party wall is valid for one year. Because of this, it’s important not to plan too far ahead, however you need to make sure your agreement is reached before you are due to start work. We suggest you deliver your party wall notice at least two months before your project is due to start.

Do I need a party wall agreement to replace my roof?

No, not if you are simply replacing your roof tiles. However, if you are having work done to the structure of your roof, or you are having a loft conversion and the supporting beams are near or on a party wall, then yes, you will need party wall agreement.