The role of the Third Surveyor in Party Wall disputes

If you have served Party Wall Notices on your neighbour and they have dissented  and appointed their own surveyor, a third surveyor will be selected by the two appointed surveyors. But who is the third surveyor and what is their role? Our expert Party Wall team at Harrison Clarke, a leading firm of chartered surveyors in the Hampshire area, explains all.

Key Points

  • Resolves disputes referred by two appointed surveyors; ensures compliance with Party Wall Act.
  • Needed when neighbours appoint separate surveyors; not required when using an agreed surveyor.
  • Impartially resolves disputes; breaks deadlocks in agreements.
  •  Agreed and selected by two appointed surveyors; Act doesn’t specify qualifications, but experience is crucial.
  • Typically, both surveyors propose candidates, agreeing on one; local authority can appoint if surveyors disagree.
  • Referring party is liable for third surveyor’s costs; fees can be attributed to the party found against.
  • Fees can be requested in advance; deposit or equal amounts from both parties might cover the likely cost.
  • Experienced Party Wall surveyors minimise third surveyor involvement by adopting a practical approach.

What is the role of the third surveyor?

A third surveyor can be called upon to resolve any dispute referred to them that cannot be agreed by the two appointed surveyors. This dispute can be referred to them by either of the respective owners or their surveyors. The third surveyor will act impartially and ensure that the provisions within the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 are carefully followed.

Is there always a third surveyor?

No, a third surveyor is not always involved. When both parties use an agreed surveyor, a third surveyor will not be selected. When you and your neighbour have both appointed separate surveyors, a third surveyor will need to be selected. Even when a third surveyor is selected, it is rare that they are actually called upon to provide advice and this should very much be the exception rather than the rule. 

It is reassuring to have a third surveyor on hand though, as this can help to break a deadlock if the Building Owners and Adjoining Owners are unable to agree a specific point.

Who can be selected as a third surveyor and what qualifications should they have?

The third surveyor will be agreed and selected by the two appointed surveyors dealing with the Party Wall dispute prior to commencing any work. The Act does not stipulate who can be a third surveyor or what qualifications they should hold. However, they should have extensive experience and knowledge in dealing with Party Wall disputes. 

The third surveyor can play a crucial role in ensuring that disputes are dealt with fairly and they should not have any interest in the outcome of the dispute. At Harrison Clarke, we will always recommend a third surveyor that we know to have extensive understanding of the Party Wall Act and practical experience in dealing with these kinds of disputes. 

How are third surveyors fairly selected?

Often, the two surveyors will each propose three surveyors who they believe to be suitable candidates to act as the third surveyor. The two surveyors will then agree on one of the proposed surveyors to act as the third surveyor.

What if the two surveyors cannot agree on a third surveyor?

It does not bode well for resolving a dispute if the surveyors cannot agree on the third surveyor. However, it does sometimes happen. The Party Wall Act has a provision whereby the local authority can appoint the third surveyor if the two surveyors do not agree. 

Who pays for the third surveyor’s fees?

If you are the party who is referred to the third surveyor, you will be liable for their costs even if they do decide in your favour. However, once a decision has been made, the third surveyor can choose to attribute the cost of their work to the party they find against. This is a cost risk to both referring parties and asking a third surveyor to provide advice is not a decision that should be taken lightly. 

A third surveyor can request that their fees be paid before they make their judgement. This can either be in the form of a deposit or sometimes by taking equal amounts from both parties to cover the sum that is likely to be awarded. 

This is the first time I have heard about third surveyors. I would like to know more.

While the use of the third surveyor is very much the exception rather than the rule, an experienced Party Wall surveyor can help to minimise the likelihood of you needing to call on a third surveyor by adopting a sensible and pragmatic approach to the Party Wall process. 

How Harrison Clarke can help

Our experienced and helpful team of specialist Party Wall surveyors at Harrison Clarke will always make time to answer any other questions you may have, talk you through the likely process and guide you through the Party Wall process as smoothly and as painlessly as possible.

We also have a range of videos talking through various aspects of the Party Wall process. You can access them via our website or our YouTube channel

How you can contact Harrison Clarke

Call our friendly, expert and highly qualified surveyors on 023 8155 0051, or email us at We would welcome the opportunity to help with any queries or needs you may have.

At the time of writing, we have a total of 71 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.