Did you know that structural warranties date all the way back to Napoleon?

Whilst it might not be his most famous achievement, the history of structural warranties can be traced all the way back to Napoleon.

Meaning even in the 18th century people wanted protection for their newly built homes!

So how did the most famous French revolutionary come to be involved with what we know today as structural warranties?

Having established himself as a French legend after defeating the Austrians, successfully launching his coup and becoming the first Consul of France in the early 1800s he decided to revolutionise the building insurance market and set the foundations for latent defects insurance.

OK, maybe we exaggerate his focus on the insurance market a little, but the Napoleonic Code of 1804 did prescribe a strict liability of 10 years on parties involved in the construction of a structure. In turn these principles have been used to develop the concept of latent defects insurance, leading more recently to structural warranties.

Structural warranties date back to Napoleon

The evolution of structural warranties in the UK

Over the last century there have been many changes to the construction of houses in the UK, the most notable of which was the introduction of council housing following the First World War. This sparked a housing boom and a change in the way houses were built to keep up with demand. The construction industry turned towards mass-produced homes built out of concrete and steel-frames.

Although these new construction methods meant homes could be produced more quickly it also meant that the housing market became flooded with substandard homes. The Government decided to take action and enforced a legislation on newly built homes where the builder must pay a 10% deposit of the total build cost as a guarantee against any defects arising in the property up to 2 years after completion.

In 1965 these building standards developed into the ten year warranties we are more familiar with today.

Since this date the policy cover and competition in the new home warranty market has changed greatly including the entrance of LABC Warranty in 2007.

Despite all these changes we can all be thankful to the little corporal who built an empire.

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Please Note: Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication. Any written guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant Building Regulations or applicable technical standards. However, for the most up to date LABC Warranty technical guidance please refer to your Risk Management Surveyor and the latest version of the LABC Warranty Technical Manual.

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