How to contest the fees of Party Wall Surveyors (ie who require checking engineers etc.):
if there are two sides (ie basement conversion mid terrace) and one has asked for a checking engineer and one hasn’t the reasonable fee is the one who hasn’t, the hourly rate is a comparable which can be used if there is one side.
Challenge the surveyor who calls for a checking engineer because they consider the work is complex and the other side does not. Challenge what they mean by complex and they will give evidence of their lack of ability.
The checking engineer becomes the surveyor’s adviser and the surveyor has to rely on the advice as they do not have the ability to question it. It follows that the surveyor hands over most if not all their jurisdiction to the Engineer and the surveyor is not entitled to fees.
Go over their emails line by line and challenge the unecessary guff and anything which is not directly related to the matter in hand – in the writer’s experience 50% of emails in such circumstances are unecessary. The writers of such emails display a total lack of critical analytical thinking skills and are thus not fit for purpose.
Bring in case law – Andrew Dust v. Marioni, Greenaway and McNulty
“The complaint is that he made a three course banquet out of what should have been a snack and spent many more hours doing the work than was reasonably necessary”.
Encourage the Building Owner to have courage and not be bullied into paying exhorbitant fees – see bullying below – and indeed if the surveyor is a bully they must be challenged.
If the award is agreed publish it – the act does not require fees to be included in an award – let the banquet seeker make their case or take it to the third surveyor or the courts where they will (should) get their come uppance.
However I must warn appointing owners that it is common for the surveyor requiring advice to refuse to provide an adequate and thorough timesheet or full details of the appointment of the Checking Engineer and then to refuse to budge on their fees leaving the building owner with the following often futile options after the publishing of an award without fees:
Go to third surveyor – the fees of the third surveyor will be higher than the saving and will delay the project
Go to court – is it worth it for the sum involved?
This undoubtedly is a weakness of the act and falls foul of the law of economics.
Party Wall Surveyor serving Thanet and London
Third Surveyor serving England and Wales