Why are Surveyors taken aback when we offer them the road of the Agreed Surveyor?
This article discusses why surveyors are frequently taken aback when JE offers to function as the ‘agreed surveyor.’ The procedure is as follows: a surveyor serves a notice, and the neighboring owner objects and appoints their own surveyor, initiating the two-surveyor dispute settlement process. While this is natural, it does not make it right. Rather than that, JE believes that the building owner should be made aware of the possibility of the neighboring owner’s surveyor acting as the ‘agreed surveyor,’ saving the building owner from having to pay two sets of surveyor costs. JE then approaches the neighboring owner’s surveyor and asks if they would be willing to act as the agreed surveyor, which is frequently regarded with surprise. This is due to two primary reasons:
It is extremely rare.
When a JE surveyor is appointed as the adjoining owner’s surveyor, the agreed surveyor route is rarely offered. This demonstrates unequivocally that the behavior is uncommon. To put it into perspective, only two surveyors offered us the agreed surveyor route out of the last 100 adjoining owner jobs. We work with a variety of different surveyors, and such an offer is almost unheard of in our experience. The mere rarity of this offer demonstrates how entrenched the industry’s practice of not promoting agreed surveyor positions is. Using solely JE numbers is clearly faulty – it is possible that other practices have access to the agreed surveyor route that we do not. Perhaps we have an odor.
The replies of our fellow surveyors provide more proof of the rarity of promoting the agreed surveyor route. We have received inquiries from surveyors as to why we are offering the agreed-upon surveyor route. For us, the response is always the same – to save the building owner money. We’ve had surveyors inquire whether anything is wrong or if there are any issues that we should make them aware of. There is a suspicion that the building owner is insane, and hence we do not wish to deal with him, and that we derive tremendous satisfaction from turning these insane and difficult people over to these poor unknowing party wall surveyors. Due diligence is necessary merely because the uncommon offer of the agreed surveyor route raises suspicion.
A secretary at JE received a phone call from a young surveyor who was amazed and relieved that we offered her the agreed-upon surveyor position. The surveyor made a joke about ‘how you get your money,’ which made our secretary really pleased with our policy. That being said, it brings us to the following issue…
It results in a financial loss for us.
Each time we provide the agreed-upon surveyor path – which is for every assignment – we risk losing at least £1,000 in revenue. The surveyor to whom we provide this is aware that we will lose the money, which explains their surprise. To demonstrate how difficult it is to implement the policy of mandatory offering of the agreed surveyor route, an audit of the past 30 positions closed by JE was conducted (the period of May 2021). We discovered that eight of the jobs were completed via the surveyor route agreed upon with the neighbor’s surveyor. Bear in mind that when we offered the agreed surveyor route, we occasionally lost up to three fees, i.e., when a surveyor was appointed on behalf of freeholders and leaseholders. We conducted a value of these eight jobs and determined that we would have earned fees totaling £12,400 plus vat in the month of May 2021 alone. That is a significant blow. The JE employee who came up with such a notion should be fired.
Each appointing owner must be made aware of the surveyor route agreed upon. Party Wall surveyors do not advocate this course of action because it can result in the loss of staggering quantities of money. The notice templates are written in such a way that they encourage the appointment of two surveyors, so protecting the building owner’s surveyor expenses. It should be up to the building owner and bordering owner to decide how to proceed, and party wall surveyors should educate them about the various choices. Our principle is that we must inform the building owner of the agreed surveyor route, regardless of how much money we lose or how much coffee our colleague’s surveyors spit into their computers.