Chartered Building Surveyors

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Party Wall Etc. Act 1996


We cater for building owners and adjoining owners


What is an Award?

Appoint a Surveyor

Choose your appointed surveyor with care!

It may not seem important at first, but when you appoint a surveyor under section 10 of the Act, you have two choices and then you are committed to the choice you make with no chance to change your mind!


Section 10 - Resolution of disputes, states -


(1)  Where a dispute arises or is deemed to have arisen between a building owner and an adjoining owner in respect of any matter connected with any work to which this Act relates either—

  1. both parties shall concur in the appointment of one surveyor (in this section referred to as an “agreed surveyor”); or
  2. each party shall appoint a surveyor and the two surveyors so appointed shall forthwith select a third surveyor (all of whom are in this section referred to as “the three surveyors”).

(2)  All appointments and selections made under this section shall be in writing and shall not be rescinded by either party.


Note the highlighted text.  The reason why this is a requirement of the Act is that you are choosing mediators who enforce the provisions of the Act in relation to the matters affecting the two owners and the function is analogous to appointing a judge.


Hopefully you will be reassured from the depth and breadth of the content of this website to establish that you are in safe hands with us.


Contact us today about your party wall or adjacent excavation issues and let us sort things out for you without a bitter conflict.

About the Party Wall Etc. Act 1996 and what is its purpose

You will find a vast amount of information about this Act on official Government web pages and on other surveyors' websites.  This page does not intend to give you the same information yet again, but rather to help you decide how to deal with the Act as a building owner or as an adjoining owner and what to watch out for in terms of the power and authority that any party wall surveyor actually possesses.


A building owner must give notice to any adjoining owners if he intends to carry out work that is covered by



An adjoining owner is not obliged to respond to any of the above notices.


If, within fourteen days of service, an adjoining owner gives consent in writing to a notice served under section 1, subsection 2, then the building owner may construct a new wall as a party wall astride boundary one month from the date of service of the originating notice, or sooner by written consent.


If, within fourteen days of service, an adjoining owner gives consent in writing to a notice served under section 3 for works covered by section 2, then the building owner may commence the work two months from the date of service of the originating notice, or sooner by written consent.


If, within fourteen days of service, an adjoining owner gives consent in writing to a notice served under section 6, then the building owner may commence the work one month from the date of service of the originating notice, or sooner by written consent.


For any notice served under section 3 or section 6 that is not responded to within fourteen days of service, a dispute is deemed to have arisen.  Both parties must then appoint a surveyor, either by concurring on the appointment of one surveyor, the Agreed Surveyor, or each appointing a surveyor of their choice whereupon the two Appointed Surveyors select a Third Surveyor.  The appointments and selection must be in writing and the parties informed of the duty holders.


An adjoining owner may consent to work stated in a notice but this does not restrict his right to any subsequent dispute regarding any other matter arising during the works such as -



All disputes are handled in the same way by the Agreed or Appointed Surveyors and not directly by the parties in dispute.


The Act obliges the parties to a dispute to pass the whole thing to one or more surveyors.  The qualification of these surveyors is not defined in the Act other than to say that they themselves cannot be a party to the matter.  Therefore when you see various claims of being "party wall surveyors" you should take a closer look at their competencies since effectively anyone can be a surveyor but only a few really understand what to do.


Therefore, before appointing a surveyor, whether you are concurring with the other party to use an agreed surveyor or whether you plan to make your own choice, make sure you have got someone who knows what they are doing.  Once appointed, the surveyor or surveyors cannot be removed and a bad surveyor is far worse than a troublesome neighbour!


Avoid the temptation to respond to unsolicited correspondence from surveyors who approach you as a neighbour to a scheme submitted for planning.   There is no need to rush at this point to make an appointment.  Simply make a note that your neighbour probably does need to serve notice on you before he can start any work on his proposals, but often this is not actually the case and if you appoint too soon as the adjoining owner, you might become liable for the surveyor's fees for the unnecessary correspondence with the building owner who can lawfully demonstrate that the Act does not apply to his work.


The Act requires that the appointment of a surveyor is made in writing.  If there are surveyors appointed by both parties then those surveyors must immediately select a third surveyor and his or her name must also be put in writing at that point.   Since there is provision in the Act for either party to call upon the third surveyor to make the award that determines the matter in dispute, it follows that each party should be given the name and business address of each other's surveyor and of the third surveyor.   This fact is often overlooked by inexperienced surveyors but if not observed could give grounds for either party to dispute the award on grounds of lawful procedure.


No surveyor appointed or selected under the Act represents either party.  References in letters or in speech by any surveyor implying "my owner" in a partisan way can be taken as potential grounds for appealing an award.   Seasoned and very experienced practitioners of this law know that they represent a judge and jury on the law contained within the Act and nothing else.   Whilst two professionals may disagree on a point of the law, and then perhaps call upon the third surveyor to make the decision, surveyors who are quarrelling over matters might not be quite so secure in their interpretation of their role.  This is especially the case with surveyors anxious to protect something that is not specifically defined within the Act itself.


All content on this website is copyright to Adrian J Singleton Limited (c) 2016

Third Party illustrations, trade marks and branding from RICS and Ordnance Survey are used with permission.

Who's who?

Pyramus and Thisbe Club

Adrian Singleton is a professional member of the Pyramus and Thisbe Club.  This was set up in 1974 by forty-six well-established and respected surveyors who dealt with the forerunner to the present Act, the London Building Acts (Amendment) Act 1939, which applied to the inner London boroughs only.  The Club is a "learned society" and is recognised in the courts of England and Wales as being able to contribute to the evolution of case law associated with this Act and its precedents in earlier enactments for London.