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Rogue Party Wall Surveyor

(17 Posts)
Eterna Tue 18-Dec-12 07:58:54

Hi all.
My neighbour recently nuilt an extension upstairs and my bedroom has a crack on the beiling. His party wall surveyor and mine agree that the damage was caused by the extension.
I got the quotes from two builders in the area. One came up with £550 and the other £400.
I sent the quotes to my party wall surveyor and he replied that he and the neighbour's surveyor agree that the amount is excessive and that they think £250 is the appropriate figure.
So, I asked my surveyor if any of the surveyors can give me the builder information who can do the job at that price. He replied that they cannot do so because it would be conflict of interest.
I found my surveyor on the internet and the neighbour is paying for him. When he came to my house with the neighbour's surveyor, I noticed that they were talking outside for almost an hour. I asked him if he's a friend of the other surveyor's but he denied.
We moved to this house a couple of years ago and my neighbour has been unfriendly from the beginning when I went over to say hi and introduce myself. He and his wife always ignore me and my family and never talk to us.
The builder who carried out the extension work for my neighbour also lives on the same street. When he was taking down the roof to begin the work, he did not use any safety net and his workers were throwing stones and tiles directly onto the front garden. Since I have two little children and a dog, I was afraid for their safety and went over to the builder's house to ask him to take safety measures. However, as I was approaching, even before I had a chance to talk to him, the first thing he said was "Get out of the drive way." He was very hostile and wouldn't hear a thing from me.
Now, I noticed that my party wall surveyor, who's supposed to act on my behalf, is giving me a hard time. He wouldn't return my calls and emails. When he does, his usual responses are that he's waiting to hear from my neighbour's surveyor. Finally, when he said £250 should be enough, there's no explanation except that their calculation is "on the basis of matching like for like and on the current industry rates for a decorator to make good and redecorate the ceiling".
I requested him for CHP as was advised on RICS website, but he refused to do so saying he's not required to do so.
I sent him for scope of work he used to come up with £250 last night and am waiting for his answer.
I don't know what to do. Help please!

ClareMarriott Tue 18-Dec-12 15:48:32

I would speak to my building insurers and see what they say. They may well instruct a loss adjuster to handle it on their behalf. That way , the loss adjusters will deal with all the various parties concerned ( and you don't have to )

Eterna Tue 18-Dec-12 19:36:57

Thank you very much, ClareMarriott. But I am not sure if it's a good idea to file an insurance claim for mere £400. sad

Daisybell1 Tue 18-Dec-12 21:42:50

I'd also contact RICS directly - check he's chartered, and if he is file a complaint about a possible conflict of interest.

tricot39 Tue 18-Dec-12 22:19:04

daisybell that is seriously harsh. It is possible for professionals to chat (and indeed in such cases good to keep channels of communication open) without conflicts of interest. You are suggesting a completely disproportionate response that could cause 1-2years of stress and upset! For £150! Get real.

Op If you are unhappy ask for the third surveyor to come in to give an impartial view. This is covered by the pw act.

btw if the surveyors knew each other they would have gone for a coffee sonewhere you couldnt see them. Standing outside suggests to me that they have nothing to hide.

Daisybell1 Wed 19-Dec-12 20:51:56

My mistake, I read the original post that the op wondered if the surveyor was a friend of her neighbour and was therefore not acting in her best interests. That would be worthy of taking further. I would expect professionals to talk amongst themselves.

As it is, not acting on her instructions is poor, but it depends how he's explaining himself - if he's explaining that she is unlikely to succeed in a higher claim then again that's fine, however if he's just refusing to comment further then that's not good.

The RICS guidance notes aren't compulsory but they are good practice and the RICS would want to know why he's reluctant to provide the information.

Eterna Wed 19-Dec-12 20:52:34

Thank you very much, Daisybell. We are seriously considering it.
tricot39, I communicated with my surveyor to ask a breakdown of the awarded costs, and he said he is not required to disclose it. Do you still think that his behaviour is normal and professional? Isn't it why we appoint a surveyor? To help us understand the situation and assess the damage correctly?

Eterna Wed 19-Dec-12 21:06:33

My surveyor emailed me last Friday. The email content is as follows.
"An Addendum Award setting out the awarded costs £250 has been posted on the 15th, signed by the two party wall surveyors.
I have to advise you that you have 14 days in which to appeal the Addendum
Award in the County Court, if you consider there may be something wrong but
I also would advise that I believe it is properly constituted in accordance
with the Act and there are no grounds to make such an appeal. However, it
is your right to appeal."
He emailed me again today saying "As mentioned before, your only option of overturning the two appointed surveyors Addendum Award is to appeal it at Count Court. After the 14 day appeal period, which has already commenced, the Award cannot be challenged in any court.
Please note, this is my last day of working before the Christmas holidays and I don’t return until the 7th January. No communications will be answered until after this date."
Could anyone advise me whether it is true that I have 14 days only to resolve this issue or I have no other option but to accept £250?

Eterna Wed 19-Dec-12 21:18:25

Oh and I need to mention that my surveyor eventually gave me the breakdown of £250. I noticed that the builders who came to see the damage on the ceiling included plastering in the scope of work, while my surveyor included redecoration only. When I asked him if he believes the plaster on the ceiling is undamaged, and filling the cracks and redecorate the ceiling would be sufficient to bring the ceiling back to the original state, he answered "I must stress that two appointed surveyors are in agreement that the awarded cost are fair and reasonable to cover the reinstatement of the small area of damage to the ceiling. The main element of the works is the redecoration of the ceiling, following the small area of plaster work to be repaired, which can be undertaken by any competent decorator. The breakdown does include, a generous amount of time for "preparation and making good" of the small area of damaged plaster."
Am I imagining things or is my surveyor really working against me? I need your advice, ladies! Thank you!

Daisybell1 Wed 19-Dec-12 22:04:05

Do you have a contract with him? s Ihe authorised to settle on your behalf or simply to advise you?

Daisybell1 Wed 19-Dec-12 22:25:38

Ok, after some googling, have you read the RICS guidance on the Party Wall Act. It comes up as the top link if you do.

This states that the surveyors have statutory duties in these cases and it seems that he's followed thidds through - he and the other side have agreed the award. You can challenge it in the courts and unfortunately the RICS won't consider a complaint until an appeal has been followed through.

So it seems I'm afraid that the surveyor has followed the law even though his communications with you leave a lot to be desired.

Have you received the notice? The draft notice in the RICS document states that the owner is to carry out the remedial works to your property. Could you ask him to carry out his obligation rather than you undertaking the works so that he has to bear the cost?

FishfingersAreOK Wed 19-Dec-12 23:28:38

Not sure if this is of any use, but I have a few settlement cracks post-refurb and it will be the decorator subcontractors who will fill/sand/paint. There will not be any need for the plasterer. Is it possible you building quotes are overinflated? Could you get a decorator quote to see the difference? If the surveyors think that is all it need...ie no building/structural repair necessary then they are not being dodgy?

annoyednow Thu 20-Dec-12 22:20:50

Doesn't it depend on how big the crack is? We had a crack in a ceiling due to a water leak and the repair guys recommended the area around to be cut out so the 'filling' would have more of a hold/grip along a larger area (if that makes any sense). Can't remember about plastering which seems to be the crux of your issue. Could you get a couple more quotes? Rotten timing with Christmas though.

Daisybell's idea of getting the owner to do the work seems good. Their workmen should have insurance. If work is deficient and the crack shows through later again, you may be able to make a claim against them.

Is your party wall surveyor a chartered surveyor?

I've had rotters next door too. Latest was builders burning chipboard with glue/resin in front garden and smoke and stink blowing into my porch. Builder saying 'it's a building site, so we can burn it'. When I rang the council, they said it was verboten to burn as toxic. They were only allowed to burn ordinary garden waste or untreated wood, same as anybody else. Not c**p with glue.

Busyoldfool Thu 20-Dec-12 22:44:17

I had similar bad experience with PW surveyor. Awarded £186 for damage which was quoted at well over £500 by independent builders. Waited months to get responses from him and was in fact a complete fraud. RICS said that he wasn't registered although he had told me he was so there was nothing they could do.
Reported him to Trading Standards but couldn't face a court case after the whole experience.

Eterna Fri 21-Dec-12 13:35:25

Thank you very much for your replies, everyone! I think I've managed to make some progress.

I contacted two more builders, and they said platering work is necessary in my case. I showed them the breakdown my surveyor sent me. Both of them refused to redecorate the ceiling only because they think the ceiling will begin to crack again in a couple of months and they might be blamed for it. Both of them gave me quotes well above £250.

I called RICS and learned that he is indeed a chartered surveyor. RICS gave me several numbers of other surveyors around my area and told me that I can get upto 30 mins free phone consultation.

Most surveyors were already on holidays but I managed to talk to a surveyor. He said that my surveyor was wrong to say;
1. that there is no complaints handling procedure, nor is he required to operate such as scheme for Party Wall appointments. - a surveyor company is required to have CHP scheme whether this is a party wall appintment or not is irrelevant.
2. that he does not need to disclose the breakdown of the awarded cost and he is only doing so the conclude this matter. - the appointed surveyor should give a reasonable explanation to their client.
3. that my only option of overturning the two appointed surveyors decision is to appeal it at a county court within 14 days. - I can and probably should talk to the third party surveyor first and I can do this at any stage. Also, I am advised to file a complaint against my surveyor at RICS.
4. that I have an option to contact the third party surveyor but it is going to be very expensive and I need to pay for the fee. - I am advised that it is a matter that the third party surveyor will decide but, based on the surveyor's experience and knowledge, the chances are it won't cost me anything.

I am much more relieved knowing that I have other options than taking it to the court within 14 days. (Or 7 days from today!)

Robbiann Mon 11-Feb-13 15:44:07

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

111brookwood Mon 19-Dec-16 03:06:03

We had party wall works done by Masterman Davies and Beston - MD is now trying to charge us nearly 5 times the other Surveyor - how is this allowed? Has anyone had a similar experience with this company as I have heard that this is common practice for them to overcharge to this degree - I have complained to the governing bodies to stop these type of companies ripping innocent people off

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