Does this require a surveyor?

edited 1 July 2020 at 12:10AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
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ANGLICANPATANGLICANPAT Forumite
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edited 1 July 2020 at 12:10AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
Our son  lives in  a middle of terrace Victorian house  with extended  roof /loft conversion . Next doors have said nothing to them , but son received a letter from  a  survey company   informing them that next doors were having a similar roof extension /loft   to our sons  built , and that under the Party Wall Act , he was entitled to a survey  at his neighbours expense which they , (this co) could do  ,which  would  check  the plans  and the proposed job to ensure there was  no encroachment on his space , and work would  not endanger his property in any way and  this survey would lead to   a 'Party Wall Award document' .

.   It was pointed out that if he chose not to  have this survey done, that  it would be very tricky  to complain about anything later.   If he wanted  them to go ahead , he should  not sign the party  wall notice from the neighbours when it came, but send it to this  company with  authorization to go ahead   We looked the company up on Trustpilot, and this one man band was  not well thought of .  It sounded  as though he was getting his leads from the councils planning applications website , but was not necessarily qualified or any good. 

Cant believe everything on TP  so the question  is not whether that particular surveyor  is good or bad, but whether it  would be normal  , routine  and sensible  for my son to get such a survey done prior to the neighbours build  ,  and is it really the obligation of the neighbour to pay for it ?  He doesnt want to irritate his neighbour if this is an unusual /unecessary  request , but at the same time , he is not au fait with the ins and outs of building  plans, and wants to protect  his property . What would be the normal procedure  please? 


Replies

  • NameUnavailableNameUnavailable Forumite
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    It's standard procedure. Unless their plans are detrimental to his property in some way it's unlikely he can do anything to stop his neighbours from proceeding - i.e. if their conversion is going to be similar to his then a precedent is already set. He can refuse the survey but the building work can carry on regardless so he's better off accepting it.
  • macmanmacman Forumite
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    These are the surveying equivalent of ambulance chasers: ignore.
    No free lunch, and no free laptop ;)
  • princeofpoundsprinceofpounds Forumite
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    It's standard procedure AND this is the surveying equivalent of an ambulance chaser.

    He can force the neighbour to go through the party wall process, assuming that they are planning to do party wall works (I wouldn't necessarily regard the letter as accurate). It can be very useful to ensure the basic quality of any party wall construction. Just google 'party wall' and you'll get lots of explanation. People don't always choose to have it done, a lot depends on what sort of construction is actually going to happen.

    The letter on the other hand is coming from a surveyor who is hoping to be appointed. That is just marketing. Research the process and your son will understand how it works and how surveyors can be appointed.
  • eddddyeddddy Forumite
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    There are 2 (or more questions here)
    1. Does your son require a party wall surveyor / survey?
    2. Should your son use the surveyor that contacted him?

    If the neighbour's building work is going to affect the party wall, the neighbour should tell your son and your son needs to agree to the work.

    Your son and the neighbour could jointly instruct one surveyor to give them both advice, or they could instruct a surveyor each. (Perhaps it depends how much they trust each other) Either way, the neighbour has to pay the fees.

    The tricky scenario is if the neighbour doesn't understand these requirements, and just goes ahead and starts work that affects the party wall - or even worse, they know that they should really should tell your son and get his agreement, but they try to keep it secret instead.

    Here's some info: https://www.gov.uk/party-walls-building-works


  • ANGLICANPATANGLICANPAT Forumite
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    Thanks all .    Will read  everything we can find .   Was amazed to read  that it's not necessary for next doors to employ a surveyor at all ,unless my son won't sign the  permissions letter.   Is  that because  a Council  surveyor  ok's  the plans  during the application  process , and makes sure  everything is ok ?   Would he only be interested though that planning permission is adhered to  , and not need to pick up on anything building practice  that may be detrimental to my sons property ?   (Son has no problem with them having the extension. )  
  • edited 1 July 2020 at 11:37AM
    greatcrestedgreatcrested Forumite
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    edited 1 July 2020 at 11:37AM
    A Party Wall Agreement may well be a good idea. Start by looking closely at the neighbour's planning application on the council website.
    Yes, under the Party Wall Act, he is entitled to have a surveyor protect his interests, at the neighbour's expense.
    But this company? They monitor all planning applications and then write to all the neighbours offering their survices. It's like the guy who knocks on your front door offerning to clear your gutters or re-pave your drive: just a marketing excercise for them to get business!
    If you do decide to use a surveyor (at neighbour's expense), CHOOSE YOUR OWN.
    There's lots of information here:

  • princeofpoundsprinceofpounds Forumite
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    Thanks all .    Will read  everything we can find .   Was amazed to read  that it's not necessary for next doors to employ a surveyor at all ,unless my son won't sign the  permissions letter.   Is  that because  a Council  surveyor  ok's  the plans  during the application  process , and makes sure  everything is ok ?   Would he only be interested though that planning permission is adhered to  , and not need to pick up on anything building practice  that may be detrimental to my sons property ?   (Son has no problem with them having the extension. )  
    No, a council surveyor does not check the plans. Councils only care about planning permission and building regulations (and even then often prove disinterested in minor planning breaches). 

    A surveyor isn't needed if everyone is happy to go ahead on a trust basis, that's why there is no obligation. Most builders are perfectly capable of constructing against a party wall just fine. The surveyor is basically there to monitor and evidence the impact of actions on the structure, not to control the building work itself.
  • ANGLICANPATANGLICANPAT Forumite
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    OK  thank you ,  We will see what we can make out from the plans submitted to Council . Wouldn't trust the  surveyor that approached .. I  think  if we don't   fully understand  the implications of the build where the loft extensions meet and whether it could disadvantage sons property or not   (apparently theres no minimum distance required between them ) then perhaps his best way forward is to  maybe  offer to share the  cost of  a mutually chosen surveyor,  to maintain good relations. .This of course depends on whether he is approached at all , the build could just proceed  it would seem if neighbours keep quiet or dont realize their obligations for a letter.   Might it be too late  if that happens and you see the job starting, to raise objections at that point?
  • edited 1 July 2020 at 2:17PM
    greatcrestedgreatcrested Forumite
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    edited 1 July 2020 at 2:17PM
    If the job starts without any PW agreement or discussion, all you can do is apply for an injunction from the court to have work suspended till a PWA is put in place.
    Far better to pre-empt the issue.
    I'd knock on the door, say you've noticed they are planning work that will be up against the boundary, and rather than having the expense of a surveyor each, why not agree on a single surveyor to look after both your interests?
    That way you seem reasonable whilst still making clear you want a PWA.
    Have the names of a couple of local PW surveyors to hand so if they've not got one, they can choose....
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