Recap: what is a structural warranty?
Plainly speaking, a structural warranty is an insurance policy that ensures any major damage caused by structural defects in the design, workmanship or components of the home, are put right in the first 10 years from build completion.
A structural warranty covers latent defects – in other words, issues with the home’s construction that cannot reasonably be foreseen. A structural warranty is very different to home and contents insurance, which instead seeks to protect a homeowner from theft, accidental and storm damage.
How does a self-build warranty from LABC Warranty work in practice?
We work in partnership with LABC, the network body representing Local Authority Building Control teams across England and Wales (they also cover Scotland, but a different system there means we do not provide warranties in Scotland).
If you choose to work with your local authority’s building control service, you have the option of taking out a Self-Build structural warranty with LABC Warranty. Our Self Build structural warranty policy’s key features can be read here.
You will receive site visits from your local building control surveyor, whose job it is to ensure your construction meets building regulations. You will also receive site visits from a LABC Warranty surveyor. Their role is to ensure the risk of something going wrong with your home is minimised. As self-build homes are often individual designs, the programme of visits from your warranty surveyor is tailored to your home. We will identify key stages of the construction process and pay particular attention to these as part of our general inspection plan.
I’m building my own home – why is a structural warranty important for me?
There are five compelling reasons to get one:
Peace of mindAs we have said above, a structural warranty is an insurance policy designed to put right latent defects in your home’s construction. Our Self Build policy covers you for 10 years – so if a problem does arise, we can put it right. There is no need to prove who was responsible, so stressful arguments and litigation can be avoided. That is significant reassurance for you, especially if your new home is to be the home you will live in.
An extra pair of eyes for quality controlEven if you have construction or project management experience, you will benefit from additional expertise. Your building control and warranty surveyors will also bring a cool head to the proceedings, as personal projects can easily sway judgement!
To raise financeIf you need a bank to lend money to build your new home, they will almost certainly demand that you seek cover from a structural warranty provider. They want assurance that your home is a good investment. We can supply reports to give them that assurance, and of course your final warranty Certificate of Insurance, once your home is completed to our standards.
Hold your builder liable for problemsIf you have appointed a builder or main contractor, our self-build policy makes your builder or contractor liable to put issues right for the first 12 months from completion. Again, this reduces contention and gives you greater assurance that any issues will be remedied.
Sell your home after the first 12 months if you need toYou may be like the majority of self build homeowners who want to live in the new home and have no intention of selling. Yet things change: no one can predict the future. If you need to move or sell it may be heart-breaking enough, but imagine not finding a buyer because no one could get a mortgage? A warranty Certificate of Insurance allows you to sell your home after the first 12 months, subject to your policy’s terms and conditions. It is the seal of approval a mortgage lender needs to lend to someone looking to buy your home.
Other insurances to consider
There are other insurances you must consider when building your own home. You will need self-build insurance for public liability for the building site and works. If you are managing the project rather than an architect, you should consider getting employer’s liability insurance as well.
If you have employed an architect, it might be tempting to rely on their cover instead of a full structural warranty. Be warned that their insurance will only cover you for negligence by the architect, and only for a period of 6 years: it will not cover you for workmanship or defective materials.
Equally, do not rely on your appointed builder or contractor to hold sufficient insurances. They may have public liability but no employers’ liability, meaning no one will hold overall responsibility for the work in progress.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Don’t worry! We have produced a handy six-step guide to building your own home, or download our infographic which summarises the main points you need to consider. Remember, no-one takes lightly an undertaking to build their own home. But with careful planning and the correct insurances in place, you can protect your interests from the outset and do all you can to ensure a smooth and exciting project.