Self Build Insurance: Managing Risk

Before you embark on a self build project, you need to look closely at the issues that could impact on your budget and schedule – and how you can manage them, says Simon Middleton
by Protek
29th February 2016

A self build project can be one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences you undertake in life, not only in terms of the personal achievement but also in the value you realise through your own efforts.

At the outset, careful consideration will undoubtedly be given to your project’s feasibility and it’s quite likely you have allowed an element of contingency in the budget for unexpected costs.

In this article, I’m going to look at some of the risks you face that may extend way beyond that contingency and how you can identify and manage these issues through good risk management and suitable self build insurance.

Understanding risk on a self build

Self building involves more than just the project management aspect – you often have to take on the role of ‘risk manager’ as well. This can seem like a daunting task at first, but it can make a massive difference to your self build experience.

At Protek Self Build, we suggest you start by considering the impact that theft, vandalism or a fire could have on your project. Furthermore, what would happen if an accident occurs on your site causing damage to property or perhaps a serious injury to a worker on site? Would it be your responsibility?

Your exposure to such issues can be mitigated through risk assessment. This helps you identify the potential problems, allowing you to take steps to manage your exposure – and one of the most important strings to your bow will be to have good self build insurance in place.

Site security & theft

The types of risks you face may not be apparent from the outset. Thieves can be incredibly innovative and very destructive, so it’s not just the inconvenience of replacing the stolen items, it’s also the cost of repairing the damage and destruction caused to the property that’s been broken into.

Hired plant, tools and equipment will remain hired to you even if they have been stolen. For instance, replacing a telehandler might cost upwards of £18,000 – but you need to factor in that the continuing hire charges will be billed at around £125 per week, until it’s been replaced!

Establishing where you are most at risk of a break-in will help you identify how good your security measures are. Temporarily boarding up openings in the structure helps and can provide a good deterrent against an arson attack; but ultimately you need to stop unauthorised access to the whole site, using whatever security measures are appropriate.

Healthy & safety on site

If you are exercising control on site (for instance if you’re acting as project manager), you will invariably have duties under the Construction Design & Management (CDM) Regulations.

Many injuries occur due to a lack of forethought regarding who is at risk and when. Think about work areas, keep them free of hazards and consider what is going on above and below to ensure employees are not at risk from works going on elsewhere in the building.

This is a common cause of serious accidents and injury. Organising the works methodically (your designer and contractors should be able to assist with this) and understanding who is at risk and when is crucial in managing your exposure.

Accidental damage to a third party or their property can occur at any time and can range from a relatively minor incident to something far more serious. A single brick falling from a scaffold could easily cause several hundred pounds worth of damage to a car below – but imagine the consequences of a failed scaffold board and an entire stack of bricks falling on a worker below.

In addition to a likely investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and the prospect of a prosecution to defend, the self builder will invariably be responsible for damages. If the victim of the accident is seriously injured, those damages can run into millions as you will be expected to pay for the injured parties care costs for the rest of their lives.

No individual can really put that level of contingency aside, which is why using good self build site insurance is so important. Products such as those offered at Protek are specifically designed to help protect you against the financial risk that a serious loss can bring; which makes this a proven risk management tool.

Simon Middleton is the face behind Protek Self Build, which provides site insurance and structural warranty products to the self build market. He has been operating in the self build industry for over 20 years.

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