From site insurance and structural warranties to architect’s certificates, our simple guide tells you all you need to know about how to protect yourself - and your project - from risk

Self build insurance

Image: Insured with warranties Architect duo Eilir Sheryn and Fredericke van Ellen (01364 653 503; vanellensheryn.com) designed and built their family home in Ashburton, near Newton Abbot. The energy-efficient, timber-frame property measures 340sqm and cost £325,000 to build. 

It’s an exciting moment when you first see your name on the deeds for your building plot. But with that thrill comes responsibility. The right insurance policy can keep the dream of building your own home from turning into a nightmare. Here’s how:

What does site insurance cover?

Self build site insurance is sometimes called contract works insurance and covers issues such as storms, flooding and fire that affect the main house, temporary buildings and  the building you are constructing.

A standard policy will cover building works, materials, plant, tools and equipment, including any that are hired, temporary residence and employees’ personal effects, personal accident, public and employers’ liability, legal expenses and your personal possessions.

Things to check and consider

Make sure you are covered against theft of tools or materials. While employees’ personal effects will be covered as standard, check the limit as it can be low.

Even if contractors and tradespeople have their own insurance any accidents on site may still be your responsibility. Make sure your policy covers public liability for up to £5million and that is in place for the entire length of the project.

Pick a flexible product that can be extended if your project overruns or converted to regular buildings insurance if your build finishes ahead of schedule.

What is a structural warranty?

Structural warranties cover defects in a building that are not immediately apparent after completion. This type of cover is also called latent defects insurance.

The warranty provider will assess the standard of building work at each stage and at the end of the process will issue a final certificate confirming that the work is complete and covered by the structural warranty.

A warranty will pay out to put right any physical damage caused by structural defects.  It will also pay out for reasonable living costs during any remedial work.

How much do warranties cost?

A structural warranty costs between £1,500 and £5,000 and lasts for 10 years as standard. Warranties are usually paid for as single premiums.

What is an architect’s certificate?

An architect’s certificate is an alternative to a standard structural warranty and confirms that the house has been supervised during construction, complies with Building Regs and follows best practice construction standards.

An architect’s certificate costs around £1,000 and lasts for six years. Be aware that it is not a self build insurance policy. You would need to prove the cause of any fault and claim against the architect’s personal indemnity insurance.

What to do next

Once you have arranged your self build site insurance and your warranties are in place:

  • Notify building control and your warranty provider as soon as work begins.
  • Organise your Energy Performance and Completion Certificates from building control and your Warranty Certificate. All these will be needed for a mortgage.
  • Keep a site diary to document progress, changes to your original plans and any issues along the way so that you have a record should any disputes arise.

Find out more about self build insurance from the grand designers at Grand Designs Live.

 

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Self build mortgages: a guide to financing your new home  

Self build house kits: a buyer's guide 

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