Structural Warranty Checklist

Self-Build Zone’s Jake Fitness sets out what you need to know to arrange the right warranty protection for your home building project
Self-Build Zone Insurance & Warranties
by Self-Build Zone
9th January 2023

A structural warranty is a type of insurance policy that protects a new build home against defects that may emerge over time in the design, workmanship and materials, usually for 10 years post-completion.

It can also be taken out for the new works on a renovation or extension project. So, it will protect you against problems developing later on, covering the cost of rebuild or remedial works for such defects. Here’s what you need to know when identifying the best warranty for your project.

Do I Need a Self Build Structural Warranty?

Before a lender will provide a self build mortgage on a project, they’ll want to know you have a 10-year structural warranty in place. The same is true for any subsequent mortgages within the first 10 years of completion (the point at which the property is signed off by building control).

So, whether you are looking to remortgage yourself, or you’re selling and a prospective buyer needs finance to enable their purchase, the lender will want to see a structural warranty in place.

What Makes a Good Quality Warranty?

The cover within structural warranties doesn’t tend to vary too much. Most will cover major damage caused by defective design, workmanship and materials,  as well as the waterproof envelope and all new drainage works.

The reliability of a provider comes down to the insurer they use and what rating that insurer has – they should be at least ‘A’ rated. This relates to their ability to pay claims, and the financial backing available should anything unexpected happen to the provider.

A warranty supplier should be able to flex its products to match individual self builders’ project requirements, and be on the end of the phone to provide help and support with technical issues with your project.

Are There any Restrictions on Structural Warranties?

The main consideration is there will be a condition that the property needs to be lived in for a period of 12 months from completion. After that time, the warranty will then be fully transferable.

As different providers may vary slightly, it’s always a sensible move to thoroughly check the policy documents, focussing particularly on any exclusions in the policy. You need to know what a policy specifically won’t cover, as well as what it will.

When Should I Put my Warranty in Place?

The cheapest and easiest time to purchase a structural warranty is prior to the works starting. The provider is required to do periodic inspections on your build, similar to building control.

If those inspection stages are missed, it will increase the risk to the insurer and the premium will likely increase as a result. It is becoming increasingly difficult to purchase warranties after completion, so it is always best to arrange cover as early as possible.

How Many Inspections Should I Expect?

The number of site audits (inspections for the warranty) is based on the construction type of the property/project, size and stage of the works. They are usually at similar stages to Building Regulations inspections – on a new build, you’ll typically require at least four, but it can be as much as eight depending on complexity.

Your provider should inform you of the number of audits required when the quotation is issued. Once you’ve purchased the warranty, the surveyor will then be able to let you know when those inspections will be.

Should I Partner Building Control With a Warranty?

Most structural warranty providers can also arrange building control for you; although you are not obliged to take this route and can of course choose to use the council’s service or another approved inspector.

The key benefit of a combined approach is that it means you can have just one surveyor for both inspection regimes. This means it should be more cost effective, as you won’t have to pay two separate surveyors to come out for each part of the inspection process.

What Does a Self Build Warranty Cost?

The price is based on a combination of the warranty premium and the site audit fees. The price of those is based on the construction type, location and size of the project. Prices typically start from £1,500 (although can be as much as £50,000+ on very high value projects). Visit the Self-Build Zone website to get a good idea of costs via a quick and efficient online quote form.

As soon as you have a good idea of what your project is, secure a quotation so you can understand what the warranty will cost and accommodate it within your budget accordingly.

Jake Fitness is team leader at Self-Build Zone, which offers a comprehensive range of specialist self build, renovation, extension and site insurance cover, as well as self build warranties. Call 0345 230 9874 or visit Self-Build Zone for more.

Header image:  iStock Vintrac

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