• Ben Mackie

Why are Surveyors shocked when we offer them the Agreed Surveyor route?


This article looks at the reasons why surveyors are often shocked when TPWC offer them the opportunity to act as the ‘agreed surveyor’. It works like this: a surveyor serves a notice, and the adjoining owner dissents and appoints their own surveyor, cue the two-surveyor dispute resolution process. This is normal, but it doesn’t make it right. Instead, what TPWC thinks should happen, is that the building owner should be made aware that there is the potential for the adjoining owner’s surveyor to act as the ‘agreed surveyor’ which would save the building owner having to pay two sets of surveyor’s fees. TPWC then approach the adjoining owner’s surveyor asking whether they would be happy to act as the agreed surveyor, and at this point we are often met with shock. There are two main reasons for this:



It is very rare.


When a surveyor at TPWC is appointed as the adjoining owner’s surveyor, we are hardly ever offered the agreed surveyor route. This shows us clearly that the practice is not widespread. To put it in perspective, out of the last 100 adjoining owner jobs, we were offered the agreed surveyor route by only two surveyors. We deal with all different surveyors, and in our experience such an offer is almost unheard of. The sheer rarity of this offer shows how ingrained it is in the industry not to promote agreed surveyor appointments. Using only TPWC figures is clearly flawed – it could be that other practices are offered the agreed surveyor route where we are not. Perhaps we smell.

Further evidence of the rarity of the promotion of the agreed surveyor route comes from the reactions of our fellow surveyors. We have had surveyors asking us ‘why’ we are offering the agreed surveyor route. For us, it is always the same answer – simply to save the building owner some cash. We have had surveyors query whether there is something wrong or any difficulties that we should make them aware of. There is this suspicion that perhaps the building owner is mad, and therefore we do not wish to deal with him, and that we somehow get great pleasure from sending these mad and difficult people over to these poor unsuspecting party wall surveyors. Due diligence is required, simply because the rare offer of the agreed surveyor route arouses suspicion.

A secretary at TPWC took a phone call from a young surveyor who found it amazing and refreshing that we offered the agreed surveyor role to her. The surveyor joked ‘how do you make your money’, and this made our secretary feel incredibly proud of our policy. That being said, it moves us onto the next point…

It loses us money.

Every time we offer the agreed surveyor route – which is for every job, we stand to lose at least £1,000. The surveyor that we offer this to knows that we will be losing this money, hence their surprise. In terms of how painful it is to adopt the policy of the mandatory offering of the agreed surveyor route, an audit was undertaken of the last 30 jobs that TPWC closed out (the period of May 2021). We found that 8 of the jobs were closed by way of the agreed surveyor route with the neighbour’s surveyor. Remember that where we offered the agreed surveyor route, we sometimes lost as many as three fees i.e., where a surveyor has been appointed on behalf of freeholders and leaseholders. A valuation was undertaken of these 8 jobs and it was estimated that we would have generated fees of £12,400 plus vat in the month of May 2021 alone. That is a huge hit to have taken. The person at TPWC that came up with that idea ought to be sacked.

Summary

Every appointing owner must be made aware of the agreed surveyor route. Party Wall surveyors do not promote this route as it can lead to the loss of eye-watering sums of money. Notice templates are written in such a way that promotes the two-surveyor appointment, safeguarding the building owner’s surveyor’s fees. It should be the building owner’s and the adjoining owner’s decision as to how they proceed, and party wall surveyors must make them aware of the different options. Our policy is that we mandatorily make the building owner aware of the agreed surveyor route, no matter what the loss is to us, or how much it makes our fellow surveyors spit coffee onto their keyboards.


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