A structural warranty protects a new build home (or the new works on a renovation or extension project) against defects in the design, workmanship and materials for 10 years post-completion.
It can cover the cost of complete/partial rebuilding and rectifying work attributable to such defects, as well as issues with drainage systems, the waterproof envelope, chimneys and flues etc.
Besides the obvious benefits of safeguarding your investment, most lenders will insist a structural warranty is in place.
Understandably, they want to protect the asset against which they are lending. So, if you need finance for your project, you’ll almost certainly need to arrange a structural warranty very early in the process.
This isn’t simply about accessing funding yourself: should you want to sell the house in future, any prospective purchaser or their lender will still want to see that a structural warranty is in place.
If you’re telling yourself you’re building a house for life and therefore do not need a warranty, think again. Statistically, most self builders repeat the process every seven years!
This will be cost-effective, gives you maximum support from the provider, and opens up the possibility of combining your warranty with an independent building control service (including a Building Regs plan check and technical audits).
An architect’s certificate will only cover you for six years rather than the full 10 years offered by a structural warranty.
What’s more, you will only ever have any recourse with an architect’s certificate if you can prove negligence on their part, so that you can claim against their professional indemnity insurance.
This can not only take years to go through the courts but may also cost a fortune in the process. That could leave you in no-man’s land with no certainty of reimbursement for any remedial works.
A 10-year structural warranty is a prime policy, so it doesn’t require you to pursue someone else to pay out. You’ll go through a standard, more direct insurance process to ensure the fault is covered under the warranty.
Once that’s confirmed, the remedial works will be paid for. Structural warranties are also fully transferable to new owners should you decide to sell.
While it’s possible to buy a retrospective warranty (sometimes known as a completed housing warranty), it’s important to understand these policies can cost anything up to 10 times as much as a product taken out at the start of the project.
You’ll also face more expensive survey fees, as the insurer will require rigorous checks to fully understand the status and current condition of the building.
The other key downside to getting cover post-build is the 10-year period will be calculated from the original completion date for the project (not from the time you take out the policy). So you might end up buying a shorter period of cover at many times the price compared to a pre-commencement 10-year structural warranty.
Don’t just take a warranty from any old insurer. As with any part of your project, it’s important to do your research. Seek out a provider that has a minimum A-rating from a respected organisation, such as AM Best or Standard & Poor’s. This way, you can have confidence your warranty insurer is financially secure and will pay out on any future claim.
|Sarah Kempton is marketing manager at Self-Build Zone, where she has been part of the team for over eight years. Self-Build Zone provides specialist site insurance and 10-year structural warranties for self builders, home extenders and renovators. Call 0345 230 9874 or visit Self Build Zone to find out more.|