8 ways to save money on Party Wall Awards
Party Wall Awards are usually the last thing that anyone wants to spend money on. They can seem an expensive necessity that adds little to the value of a project. For simple residential projects, the party wall fees can be as much as the architectural drawings, so here are eight ways to save money on your award:
1. Speak to your neighbours and get them on side
This really is the most effective way to save costs on a party wall award. Ideally you should have started a dialogue with them before you gained planning. If not, make sure that you get them onside now in order to minimise the chances of them dissenting to your notice and appointing their own surveyor at your expense.
2. Appoint a surveyor to issue the notices on your behalf
It can be tempting to download a free template from the internet and do this yourself, however in our experience, the notices are rarely served correctly and can lead to bigger problems down the line. In addition, if initial notices have been prepared by a surveyor and presented professionally, we find that neighbours are more inclined to consent to the works and/or agree to share your surveyor (see point 3).
3. Use an agreed surveyor
If your neighbours do dissent to your notice, seek to use an agreed surveyor. That is, you both share one surveyor to decide the award. This will save an additional surveyor being appointed which can double your costs.
4. Offer a schedule of condition prepared by a third party
When the notices are issued to your neighbour, offer to carry out a schedule of condition of their property. The schedule of condition will record the current state of their property so that if any damage is caused to their home, it can be repaired at your expense. This gives them reassurance that you are trying to protect their interests and increases the chance that they will consent to your notices. It also provides an element of protection to you as any existing cracks in their walls cannot then be blamed on your works.
5. Get a fixed fee quote from your surveyor
Party wall surveyors usually charge an hourly rate for their service which may range from £120 to £220 an hour and sometimes more. To protect yourself from open ended charges, ask your surveyor to break their quote down into fixed cost elements such as the cost per notice, cost for a schedule of condition and cost to determine each award. This should keep a cap on their fees.
6. Love thy neighbour!
We have dealt with party wall awards where our appointing owners have previously dissented from a notice and sought to appoint the most expensive party wall surveyor they can. When they have then come to serve notice on their neighbour a few years later, they have been surprised that their neighbour had chosen to take a similar course of action. Such actions cause bad feeling and unnecessary expense for both sides.
If you are served with an award, think about what your future intentions are for your home and how you would like to be treated if you were in your neighbour’s position. If you accommodate them now, then they are more likely to return the favour in the future.
7. Share the wall
We often see two walls erected to identical rear additions sitting side by side. If you serve the correct notice, you may be able to agree with your neighbours to build your new wall astride the boundary. This can then be used by both of you to enclose your rear addition, a course of action which saves space and halves the cost of building the wall.
8. Speak to an expert
Most party wall surveyors are members of professional bodies and have a duty of care to the community in which they work. You will find that they will be happy to discuss you matter for free over the phone and you may find that your works may not be subject to the party wall act at all. See www.ricsfirms.com for your local surveyor.
It can be frustrating to gain planning permission and then find that there is another potentially expensive hurdle to jump before you can get going on your development. These eight tips should help you to make sure that you keep your party wall costs to a minimum.