Is an Agreed Surveyor right for your job?
Posted on 22nd May 2018 at 12:42
When choosing an agreed surveyor can be detrimental to your health.
I have always recommended, for simple works, that both parties should agree with the appointment of an agreed surveyor who can act impartially for both parties. This reduces the time it takes to make an award and the costs involved.
However, you should take note that this decision could not be a good decision to make.
Firstly, you should appoint your surveyor with care. Choosing the wrong surveyor can make the whole process slow, expensive and stressful. The internet can be a dangerous place to shop and you should most definitely not choose a surveyor based on cost alone. I can direct you to many websites that do not have the most basic information that is legally required to be displayed, such as company information i.e. the business name, place of registration, registered number, registered office address. If the business is a sole trader and partnership, the address of the principle place of business must be displayed.
There is even a website that purports to be an 'association' connected with party wall surveyors, when in fact it is a scam for the disreputable business practices of a certain individual. It offers no company information and you have no idea who is behind it or where your money is going. All communication is by email and the address is a well known city centre drop box.
You should always undertake your own research and due diligence before you agree to part with your money or appoint a surveyor.
Recently, I have been contacted by different owners who have appointed agreed surveyors and things are going badly wrong. Costs are escalating and the surveyors are requesting things totally outside their jurisdiction and will not make an award until they have this information. The owners are asking what they can do. In short, not a lot.
When surveyors are appointed individually by both the building and adjoining owners, their first obligation is to select a third surveyor who can be approached by either surveyor or either owner, if they feel the need. The third surveyor has complete overall jurisdiction to make decisions outside the two appointed surveyors and determine whatever matters are in dispute, including fees of the surveyors.
When you appoint an agreed surveyor, he or she is king of his or her own castle with complete autonomy. You cannot simply remove the agreed surveyor or go above the surveyors head to a third surveyor; you are frankly stuck with any decision or any award they make. Your only redress is to appeal the award which can be a very costly and time consuming exercise.
Under the Act, if the agreed surveyor refuses or neglects to act for 10 days after a request is made by either party, the proceedings begin de novo or 'from new'. Getting to that point is easier said than done though.
What if the surveyor awards fees that you think are not reasonable? Again you can appeal the award or not pay them. If you choose the latter, you are likely to find that the surveyor enforces them directly against you.
Before you appoint an agreed surveyor you should make sure they are reputable, experienced, contactable and that you can agree fees with them or at least have a cap on the fees. You should perhaps ask them them to review the scheme and let you know what additional information they will require.
Don't assume that by agreeing to use an agreed surveyor you will save and time and costs because quite often this is not the case.
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