The excessive fees of party wall surveyors is perhaps the most common complaint that people have with the conduct of party wall surveyors. We deal with excessive fees on a regular basis and although the majority of surveyors act within reason, there are many who see fit to charge fees which are disproportionate.
To deal with this, we have been to the third surveyor a number of times to challenge the excessive fees of surveyors. So far, we have never lost a referral and we have managed to ensure that surveyor’s fees are reduced to appropriate levels.
The method by which we determine what is reasonable is very simple. We establish the fees of at least three local competent surveyors and compare them with the fees being put forward by the ‘excessive’ surveyor. There will always be a significant gap, otherwise the fees being touted are likely to be seen as reasonable.
It is often the case that a timesheet is produced which will show that a surveyor has spent considerable time on the job and this justifies an excessive fee. In our view, time spent is fairly irrelevant, as costs need to be reasonable and a surveyor should charge in a way that reflects this. In one case, a surveyor charged over £200 + VAT per hour and produced a timesheet which included 6 hours travel. Local surveyors were charging approximately £1,000 for an award whilst this surveyor was charging £2,500 (£1,200 of which was for travel).
Excessive fees can be a significant cause of stress for the party being asked to pay. We recognise this and we are well versed in effectively challenging them. In the first instance, we merely ask the surveyor to reduce the fee, and most of the time this happens. However, when we come across surveyors who do not wish to reduce their fees, we do take this further by referring the matter to the third surveyor. It is important to note that a dispute in relation to excessive fees does not delay serving the Award.
To summarise, we will challenge excessive fees whenever we see them. We have successfully challenged a number of surveyors and we are pleased that in the cases which have been determined by the third surveyor, they have always found in our favour. We have never ourselves been referred to the third surveyor over excessive fees which we think shows that our own fees are perceived as reasonable by our peers.