Is a Party Wall process costly?

As experienced Chartered Building Surveyors in the Southampton area, Harrison Clarke deals with party wall matters every day, and has many years’ experience in this area.

First, a quick recap on the definition of a party wall… a ‘party wall’ is a wall that stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two or more owners and either forms part of a building, separates two or more buildings or consists of a ‘party fence wall’ – such as a masonry garden wall, that is not part of a building, but stands astride the boundary between the land of different owners as a way of separating their land. Wooden fences and hedges are not defined as party fence walls.

A wall is also a party wall if it stands wholly on one owner’s land, but is used by two or more owners to separate their buildings. 

Clients often worry about the costs they might incur when they are carrying out building works that involve party walls. In this article, we address some of those concerns.

How much does a party wall surveyor cost?

Surveyors acting as a building owner’s surveyor will sometimes provide a fixed fee for a Party Wall Award, when the building owner is carrying out the majority of the time-consuming work such as drafting the Photographic Schedule of Condition and the Party Wall Award themselves. 

However, most party wall work carried out by a surveyor is charged on an hourly basis. Surveyors’ hourly rates can vary dramatically, ranging from around £80 per hour plus VAT to £400 per hour plus VAT. Location can affect the surveyor’s rate, for example a London-based party wall surveyor will usually be considerably more expensive than a Hampshire-based surveyor.

A more experienced party wall surveyor may also charge a higher hourly rate than a less experienced surveyor, but it’s worth bearing in mind that, the more experienced they are, the more quickly they may work and therefore they may charge you for fewer hours to complete your Party Wall Award. 

Complicated building projects, such as basement excavations, are likely to take more time to process than, for example, a more straightforward, single storey rear extension.

What factors can affect the cost of a party wall surveyor?

When you budget for your party wall works, you should consider the following:

  • The size of your property and the size of your neighbour’s property. If you need a Photographic Schedule of Condition of the relevant areas of your neighbour’s property, the larger the property, the longer this will take to put together.
  • The quality and completeness of architectural drawings and plans, as incomplete or vague drawings will increase the time the surveyor has to spend to understand and interpret your proposals. In some cases, further drawings may be required in order to serve Party Wall Notices. 
  • The number of surveyors required. You may have one, two or even three surveyors involved, which would involve more fees, time, communication and admin. 
  • The risk of damage to your neighbour’s property. More complicated works in close proximity to your neighbour’s property come with additional risks. 
  • The location of your property. Is the surveyor local? Are you located in an area where surveyors’ fees tend to be more expensive?
  • Your relationship with your neighbours. The likelihood of disputes requiring negotiations can add to the costs incurred during the process.

Who pays for a party wall surveyor?

Under normal circumstances, the building owner who is carrying out the notifiable works will be the one who will pay both their own and their neighbour’s party wall surveyors’ fees. This is fair enough, as the building owner will be the person benefiting from the works, and the neighbour hasn’t chosen to embark on the project.

party wall in construction

As set out in the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, the neighbour who receives a Party Wall Notice has the right to dissent and to choose to appoint their own surveyor. That surveyor’s fees in reaching a Party Wall Award agreement, including any associated reasonable costs for inspecting the work and any other matters arising out of the dispute, will be paid for by the building owner who is initiating the building works.

Four tips on keeping party wall costs down

  • Talk to your neighbours first!

We often get calls from neighbours, known as ‘adjoining owners’, who receive a Party Wall Notice and are often confused and worried to receive a formal document that has come as a complete surprise, saying, “Our neighbours haven’t even discussed their plans with us.”

As the building owner, if you haven’t given your neighbour the courtesy of speaking to them personally before any documentation is issued, you could automatically be increasing the chances of your neighbour feeling disgruntled, making them more likely to dissent to your Party Wall Notices.

At Harrison Clarke, when we are working with building owners, the first questions we ask are whether you have discussed your plans with your neighbours and what is your relationship like with them? 

This knowledge can help us to strategically plan how Party Wall Notices are served, to ensure they receive an appropriate response and maximise the chance of your neighbour giving their consent.

We recommend that you speak to your neighbours as early on in the process of designing your plans as possible, as including your neighbours has more benefits than disadvantages. 

In most cases, we also recommend that you deliver the Party Wall Notices by hand. This gives you the opportunity to explain everything in person, which builds trust and rapport. 

You can talk them through the works, update them on the contractor you will be using, and actively listen to any concerns they may have. 

We are also happy to speak with your neighbours directly, to discuss your proposals with them, answering their questions and giving them peace of mind before they return the Acknowledgement form.

These thoughtful touches can really help to improve your chances of your neighbour consenting to your Party Wall Notices, and to mitigate the cost of a potential Party Wall Award.


  • Reassure your neighbour that giving consent will not leave them unprotected

Many neighbours believe that consenting to a Party Wall Notice means that they are waiving their right to having any remedial repairs done at the cost of the building owner, if any damage to their property occurs during the building work.

This is absolutely not the case. When you meet with your neighbour to discuss your plans, you should assure them that they are fully protected; that you, the building owner, will be responsible for paying for any damage that has been caused by your building works. It is also worth mentioning that, should they consent to a Party Wall Notice and there is a future dispute in relation to the party wall works, they will still be able to appoint a surveyor to resolve the dispute. Many surveyors are unaware of this, but it is crucial that adjoining owners understand that, by consenting, they are not foregoing their rights under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996.


  • Offer your neighbours a Photographic Schedule of Condition

It may sound counter-intuitive to suggest spending money to save money, by offering this additional service. However, even if your neighbour consents to your Party Wall Notice, this could save you money in the long run. 

The most common reason for neighbours dissenting to Party Wall Notices is because they are worried about damage occurring to their property, and they want to ensure they are protected.

You can make sure that your neighbour understands that they are still protected from damage to their property if they consent to the Party Wall Notice, and you can give them further reassurance by offering to pay for a surveyor to carry out a Photographic Schedule of Condition. 

Documenting the condition of their property before the building work starts, can sometimes help to encourage a neighbour to consent to the Party Wall Notices, as you are building trust by proving that you care about protecting their interests, and are happy to invest in that protection. 

It’s a win win – not only will the Photographic Schedule of Condition protect your neighbours from any damage caused by your works, but it will also protect you from any spurious claims of damage. 

The cost you incur by commissioning a Photographic Schedule of Condition would be significantly lower than potentially paying two surveyors to carry out a Party Wall Award if your neighbour doesn’t feel secure and protected and instead decides to dissent to your Party Wall Notice.


  • Ask a surveyor experienced in party wall works to draw up your Party Wall Notices

Some building owners choose to prepare their own Party Wall Notices, using online templates. This might sound like a great way to save money, but we have seen many completed incorrectly, and we have often found that, when neighbours realise that you have used an online template, they don’t trust the content. This often leads to them appointing a professional surveyor to review it, at your cost.


When Party Wall Notices are professionally and accurately drafted, adjoining owners are more likely to consent as they will trust that you have sought advice from a professional. Also, should they dissent, they are more likely to accept the use of an agreed surveyor, which will reduce your costs. 

How Harrison Clarke can help

If you are considering carrying out building works, and are concerned about the costs involved to fulfil your obligations under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, please do get in touch with our team of experienced party wall surveyors. 

Call us on 023 8155 0051, or email us at

You can also check out our website and our YouTube channel, where you can find a range of informative videos and blogs on party wall-related matters, and all the other Chartered Building Surveyor services we provide.

At the time of writing, we have a total of 61 reviews across Trustpilot and Google. We are proud to say that they are all 5 star ratings across the board.

Discover something you would like to know more about?

Faye Williams, party wall and building surveyor at Harrison Clarke chartered surveyors.

About the author

Faye Williams,
BSc (Hons) MFPWS Senior

Surveyor & Winner of Young Property Person of the Year 2023

Faye joined Harrison Clarke in 2018. Faye found an interest in Party Wall surveying, and became a Member of the Faculty of Party Wall Surveyors in 2022.

Since then, Faye has set out a revolutionary approach to party wall instructions, by focusing on people and relationships, backed up by expert knowledge. Faye’s approach has saved building owners £1,000s in unnecessary party wall fees.