Party Wall notice

I have received a party wall notice from my neighbours who are building an extension.
They will be underpinning a section under the party wall separating our semi detached houses, and other works, including a loft conversion.
I have never dealt with a party wall or significant neighbour building works before.
I appear to have four options:

Consent subject to a schedule of condition
Dissent and appoint their surveyor
Dissent and appoint my own surveyor.

My feeling is the first option affords me no safety and is out.
What would people advise regarding the other three? 
The second option may not be thorough enough, I feel.
If I appoint their surveyor will he really be fair and have my interests at heart, as a professional, or will the fact the neighbours are paying sway him in their direction?
Would my neighbours have access to pictures of the interior of my house? Would I have more privacy over pictures if I had my own surveyor?
Where would I find a reputable party wall surveyor if I need one?

Any advice gratefully received!


  • DoozergirlDoozergirl Forumite
    33.4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Party wall surveyors are there to look after the party wall.  It is both your interests, there is no conflict of interest like when you buy/sell a property and need separate solicitors. 

    It may well seem like big work to you, but it's pretty minor stuff as
    far as the party wall act is concerned and I think it would be complete overkill to employ two surveyors.   There is some underpinning so it wouldn't be unreasonable to be asking for drawings and method statements for that work with one surveyor between you.  

    Your rights are the same, regardless of whether you have a surveyor or not, let alone whether you employ two.  
    Your neighbour will have to pay but I think the best compromise is to choose the surveyor together or ask if they will let you choose the surveyor.

    Do be careful, expensive isn't always best, there are firms out there that will take complete advantage of the fact that the neighbour is paying and behave like ambulance chasers.   

    If you have a schedule of condition, which will include photos, how much privacy do you want?  It's in your own interests to have as many photos as possible...
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
  • edited 5 December 2022 at 7:59AM
    MoreProbsMoreProbs Forumite
    44 Posts
    10 Posts
    edited 5 December 2022 at 7:59AM
    Even without a PWS, you should be 'protected'. By that I mean if the builder makes an error or causes damage, then you'd (should) be covered. And the LA's BCO should be overseeing the work and ensuring it all 'conforms' - depth of underpinning, supports for steels, etc. - pretty sure their plans should be on the LA's Planning Portal.

    Having said that, without a PWS it would probably put more onus on you to keep a beady eye on what's going on, looking for 'cowboy' behaviour, checking the builder's credentials and their indemnity policies! 

    So for a reasonably complex and potentially intrusive conversion like this, I would 'personally' be happier having a PWS, and I'd want to 'approve' or have some say in the neighbour's choice. So I'd go with '3' on that list. Or '4' if I had genuine concerns about the neighb - a history of cowboyism, being cagey, not giving straight answers to QS, that sort of stuff. 

    I'd  have a chat about this with them first, before replying to confirm by letter (shame if they didn't?), and explain you've been advised that a PWS would be in order for such a reasonably involving job, but that you are happy with 'one'. Do they have a recommendation, or would they like you to find one...?

    But I wouldn't expect them to pay for two. 

    Doozer, under what sorts of circumstances would two PWSs be 'required'?
  • caper7caper7 Forumite
    116 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    Thank you both.

    The neighbours have already appointed their surveyor. He is the one who has written to me.

    I don't mind the surveyor having photos for before and after comparisons, I just don't want my neighbours to have access to photos of the interior of my entire house, that's a personal thing, so was wondering how that would be handled.

    What if the surveyor is a personal friend of theirs? Should I ask?

    It would obviously be a lot easier to go with theirs than having to find my own, but I've had such issues with other neighbours that my trust is gone, which is why I thought I'd see what advice you all had.

    Any thoughts on whether a schedule of conditions is sufficient (option 2) or an actual survey being a safer option?

    Many thanks.
  • edited 5 December 2022 at 8:29AM
    DoozergirlDoozergirl Forumite
    33.4K Posts
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    edited 5 December 2022 at 8:29AM
    The surveyor just takes a load of pictures as well, they don't do anything particularly special on that front.   You can't survey what you can't see.  

    PWS is a pretty specialist job, obviously PWS have friends but it would be pretty unusual for most people to just have a mate that's a PWS.  As I've said, a PWS is there for the wall, not you or your neighbour, so even if they are friends, it's irrelevant.  They've finished work before the building begins. 

    The work is ultimately done by the builder.  What the surveyor does on a small domestic project feels a bit like money for old rope, but if you don't understand building work then it doesn't hurt to have someone check that the builder plans to do the right thing and that a structural engineer has been appointed.  

    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
  • propertyrentalpropertyrental Forumite
    911 Posts
    500 Posts Name Dropper
    Shared surveyor is my recommendation.
    But as neighbour has already appointed one, do some research to make sure you're happy with him/his firm.
    No real way to check f he's 'a friend', but provided he's professional (RICS /whatever) should be OK.
  • macmanmacman Forumite
    52.4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    The surveyor has a duty to act impartially. Appointing your own will of course double the costs and aggravate your neighbour.
    Your concern over internal pictures is not really relevant. He will simply be taking a record of the areas on and around the party wall in case damage should occur-not photographing your sock drawer.
    No free lunch, and no free laptop ;)
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