Yearly Archives: 2022

 

20 
Jul

What do millennial and Gen Z homebuyers look for?

What do millennial and Gen Z homebuyers look for

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, currently make up the largest age-range population in the UK – surpassing Generation X, the Baby Boomers, and the older generations, with Generation Z not far behind. This means that these two generations have the most potential buying power, becoming the biggest driving force for economies around the world – and the housing industry is no exception.

Despite the countless thinkpieces on the rising cost of housing and the millennial preference for avocado toast over home ownership, there’s still demand for affordable homes from first-time buyers in Generations Y and Z. So, what can builders, developers, and sellers do to attract them?

With global recessions following the tough years of the COVID-19 pandemic, younger homebuyers are looking for some reliability. Here are some of the things you could be doing to reassure Gen Z and millennial first-time buyers that they can trust in their investment if they buy your property. 

What do millennial homebuyers want?

The classification of millennials is hotly contested, but the term generally refers to people who were born between 1981 and 1996. The oldest millennials are therefore in their early forties, likely with young families, while the youngest are in their mid-twenties and perhaps looking to settle down.

Between student loan debt and inflation fast outpacing stagnant salaries, it’s no surprise that the top concern for millennials looking to buy homes is affordability. This age bracket also tends to look for:

  • Customisability – a place that they can truly make their own
  • Community – somewhere they can put down proper roots
  • More space – larger homes with open floor plans for better flow

Millennials want low-maintenance homes with all-modern amenities, usually within walking distance of public facilities like coffee shops, gyms, and schools. This is why new-build housing developments just outside of urban centres are becoming more and more popular.

Of course, as the first generation to grow into adults while earlier technologies were still rapidly developing, millennials expect high levels of functionality in their homes. Smart technology in the house itself is an attractive perk, but so is taking communication and sales online.

What do Gen Z homebuyers want?

The up-and-comers of Gen Z are categorised as being born between 1997 and 2012, with the oldest Gen Zs now in their early to mid-twenties. Young adults these days may be waiting longer than their parents to buy their first home, but the ambitious Generation Z often sees 25 as a deadline for this.

But what exactly do Gen Z want out of their potential first homes? As the younger generation who have grown up with instant gratification from on-demand information, they’re typically looking for:

  • Prime locations – buildings close to work opportunities and leisure resources
  • Functionality – affordable and minimal properties with lower risks of faults
  • Diversity – no cookie-cutter houses or monolithic local communities

Most of Gen Z also don’t remember a world before 9/11 and the modern fear of terrorism, making them one of the most risk-averse generations. This means they’re much more picky and wary of problems, needing more persuasion to make them confident in the quality of your property.

Of course, they’re also the most tech-savvy generation, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the key to winning over Gen Z homebuyers is to speak this language. Even more so than millennials, Gen Zs like being able to do as much as possible online – from virtual tours to online applications.

How to attract Gen Z and millennial homebuyers?

The simple answer to the issue of gaining the trust and interest of Gen Y and Z is to utilise online services. From advertising to applying for mortgage and insurance contracts, it’s much easier to do things digitally, and much more appealing for younger people with faster-paced lives.

The things that link millennial and Gen Z homebuyers are expectations of quality and reliance on technology. They prefer a simple user experience with a streamlined service, usually including:

  • Detailed property information – specifying unique features and providing high-quality photos and videos instead of generic descriptions.
  • Insight into local neighbourhood – are there nearby amenities that make this community a more attractive place to live than anywhere else?
  • Floor plan and virtual tours – providing measurements of rooms and the ability to ‘walk through’ the property without being there in person.
  • Mobile-friendly content – most younger people use their smartphones for everything, so your services should be accessible from a mobile phone.
  • Direct contact options – first-time homebuyers without experience need an expert that they can email their questions to for professional support.

Essentially, both Gens Y and Z want as much information about a property as possible to reassure them before they commit to anything, and if they can access that information online by themselves – all the better. When over a third of millennials and Gen Zs would even purchase a home online without even physically viewing it first, you can’t overestimate the importance of digital services.

How can a structural warranty help?

Millennials and Gen Z are looking for security and trustworthiness when they’re home-hunting. One way to gain trust and prove your reliability is to have a building warranty in place from the start of construction on your property (whether it’s a new-build or a conversion of an existing building).

A structural warranty from a third party reinforces your statements about the quality of the home, providing a guarantee that the Gen Y/Z buyer won’t be left high and dry if something goes wrong with the structure down the line, because this policy helps to protect their financial investment.

Not only will it validate the quality of your work and give them peace of mind, but building warranties can also help with their mortgage applications – improving their chances of being able to secure the home they want. And if the property doesn’t have a structural warranty yet, it’s easy for them to get one by applying online. For example, you could request an ABC+ Warranty quick quote in minutes.

As expert providers of building warranties covering structural defects in all kinds of properties, you can contact Architects Certificate for advice in this area whenever you need us. Simply send an email to info@architectscertificate.co.uk and we’ll respond with the answers to your queries.

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Published Date: 20th July 2022
Category: structural warranty


 

20 
Jul

Where are the best places to buy a new-build home in the UK?

best places to buy a new build home in the UK

Most new-build homes come with a range of perks, from brand new fittings and a new home warranty to better energy efficiency for cheaper bills.

Plus, with government schemes to assist first-time buyers, new builds offer an easier route into the property market for people looking for their first house.

While you may not have to worry about the cost of renovations for a new build property, the price can be higher depending on the location.

So, where in the UK is the best place to buy a new home if you’re trying to get on the property ladder? Let’s look at some of the cheapest places to buy a house in the UK, and the most expensive.

What are UK homebuyers looking for?

Most people looking for a new home would prefer somewhere that requires little work before they can move in, perhaps with some level of customisability in the fittings. New builds offer this, but it can be a long wait between reserving the property and completing construction.

What makes the potential wait worthwhile is the range of other benefits that also come with most new build developments in the UK. Affordability, accessibility, and local employment rates are some of the biggest factors influencing the decision to purchase a new-build house.

According to stats shared by BuyAssociation, up to 58% of current renters want to become first-time homebuyers, while around 50% of existing homeowners want to buy a new property. However, their priorities have changed following the pandemic and rising awareness of climate change.

Now, 33% of potential homebuyers expect sustainable buildings, and 44% expect environmentally-friendly options for energy, recycling, and waste disposal. Energy-efficient heating and lighting are a top priority for 61%, but the main issue for 67% is having access to nearby green spaces.

With the rise in flexible working and home offices since COVID-19 turned the world as we knew it upside down, being close to city centres isn’t as important as it used to be for property buyers. It seems that the contemporary homebuyer wants a new build house up to the latest environmental codes, with parks or community gardens nearby.

So, where can you find this for an affordable price in the UK?

New builds in North England

Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering the south’s reputation for being an expensive place to live, the cheapest places to buy new houses in the UK are often found in the north of England.

⦿ According to House Beautiful, three of the top ten new build hotspots are in the North West, and another three were in the North East.

⦿ In Zoopla’s list of top nine homes under £250,000, four are in North England – including three in the North West and one in Yorkshire.

⦿ Move iQ’s list of ten cheapest places to buy a house in the UK are all in the north, with Yorkshire taking the top two spots, followed by five areas in the North East (mostly in Durham), and a couple in the North West.

⦿ Several property investment companies identify northern English towns like Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool as the top places for buying property in the UK, both for affordability and returns.

New builds in the Midlands

As the literal middle ground in the drama of the north/south divide, the Midlands are often overlooked – but they offer some of the best options for new property purchases in England.

⦿ Birmingham made it to the eighth spot out of nine in Zoopla’s homes under £250,000 list.

⦿ Aspen Woolf claims that Birmingham is the second largest economy in the country after London, with strong growth in house prices and demand expected.

⦿ SevenCapital identifies not just Birmingham but also Nottingham as some of the top places to invest in the UK, with high potential for growth.

⦿ According to The Telegraph, the West Midlands have the second and third favoured local authorities for first-time buyers (North Warwickshire and Staffordshire Moorlands), while the East Midlands are home to three more locations in the national top ten (South Derbyshire, High Peak, and Hinckley and Bosworth).

New builds in South England

As costly as it can be to live in the London area, you might be surprised to know that there are some relatively affordable places to buy new homes in the south of England.

⦿ Two properties in the south made it into Zoopla’s top nine properties under £250,000 (Luton and Surrey, in seventh and ninth place respectively).

⦿ As per The Telegraph, Swindon in Wiltshire is not only the top spot for first-time buyers in the South West, but the entirety of South England – with properties up to 39% cheaper than in Kent.

⦿ Over in the South East, SevenCapital recommends Bracknell for affordable homes with access to the capital city, with a 19.1% increase in prices forecast for the next five years.

⦿ Meanwhile, Aspen Woolf suggests Bristol in the South West and Luton in the South East for strong housing markets with lucrative long-term investment opportunities.

New builds in Scotland

If you’re thinking about moving to Scotland instead, you wouldn’t be alone. The higher standard of living for less money draws many homebuyers, but are house prices in Scotland that competitive?

⦿ As per House Beautiful, four of the top ten cheapest places to buy a new build are in Scotland (Ayrshire in second place, Inverclyde fourth, East Ayrshire seventh, and Argyll and Bute in ninth).

⦿ In Zoopla’s nine best properties under £250,000, Blairgowrie in Perthshire made third place.

⦿ SevenCapital recommends Scotland’s ‘second city’ Glasgow for lower property prices than Edinburgh with a similarly high level of return on investment.

⦿ According to government stats on house prices in April 2022, the average property price in Scotland was £187,954, compared to £299,249 in England.

New builds in Wales

If the Midlands and Scotland are often overlooked in the affordable property search of the UK, Wales definitely is, despite its abundant greenery. This may be because Wales is seeing record house price increases in 2022 – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t affordable new properties available.

⦿ The Daily Express places Wales fourth in their top five list of cheapest regions to buy a new build (ranking just behind Scotland, with North East England in the top spot followed by Yorkshire).

⦿ Government statistics for April 2022 show that the average house price in Wales was £211,990 – higher than Scotland’s (£187,954), but much lower than England’s (£299,249).

The House Price Index reveals that the cheapest area to buy property in Wales is Blaenau Gwent in the south-east (£126,000, while the costliest is Monmouthshire in the south-east at £342,000).

⦿ While house prices in North Wales have been rising at their fastest annual rate, The Leader reports that Denbighshire is the exception – where prices dropped by 5.9%.

Is now a good time to buy a new build?

There are plenty of headlines about soaring house prices as the property market bounces back from the pandemic, so you might be wondering if buying a new house right now is really the best idea.

However, The Times reports that house prices are expected to fall by 5% in the next two years as the Bank of England increases interest rates to fight against inflation. However, that doesn’t mean you should bide your time and wait that long to buy your dream home.

There are no guarantees, which means that if you find a new build in your preferred location and price range, it’s better to snap it up while you can. The best times of year to go house-hunting are spring and autumn, as people tend to be busy around the summer holidays and Christmas.

Whichever property you decide to buy, and wherever it may be in the UK, just be sure to check that it comes with a comprehensive building warranty. Or, if you’re a builder or a buyer and there isn’t a structural warranty in place yet, you can contact Architects Certificate to set one up today.

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Published Date: 20th July 2022
Category: structural warranty


 

21 
Jun

What’s the difference between Structural Warranty and Building Control inspections?

What’s the difference between Structural Warranty and Building Control inspections?

With an ever-growing demand for new build homes, developers and builders are often under pressure to complete projects quickly. However, cutting corners to save time and money is a bad idea. Construction work should always follow best practices and both local and national rules.

To ensure this happens, your local authority’s Building Control team should inspect the site for compliance with Building Regulations. Similarly, if you set up a building warranty for the new property, your warranty provider should send surveyors to carry out regular risk assessments.

Having multiple sets of expert eyes helps to prevent poor workmanship and compromises on safety, ensuring that everything meets the appropriate technical standards until the building is complete. Yet, you may wonder how these types of inspections are different – so here’s what you should know.

Complying with Building Regulations

Every newly constructed building must legally comply with Building Regulations, as well as existing buildings with certain alterations. The UK government has published Approved Documents covering the standards for everything from fire safety and sanitation to structural design and materials used.

Before you can sell a new build, you’ll need a completion certificate issued by the local Building Control department. They’ll send a Building Control surveyor towards the end of construction to make sure everything meets the minimum requirements for health and safety and functionality.

The Building Control officer will be looking for structural, electrical, and fire safety issues, as well as assessing drainage, ventilation, and energy conservation measures. They often require much more information in more detail than a Structural Warranty surveyor, and can legally demand certain actions depending on their findings. Building Control can refuse to issue certificates until problems are fixed, or prosecute and fine the responsible parties if their work continues to be substandard.

Structural Warranty risk assessments

While Structural Warranties aren’t a legal requirement the way that Building Regulations are, they have their own sets of technical standards that the construction work must meet. This is why your provider will send their own chartered surveyors to carry out inspections at key stages of the build.

Another difference is that while Building Control comes in later in the project, it’s best to set up a Structural Warranty as close to the start as possible. The more risk assessments we can perform throughout, the more likely it is that any potential problems are caught early enough to fix them.

These types of inspections begin with a site risk assessment, reviewing the ground conditions and design specifications. Next are several ‘key risk’ inspections and ‘frequency visits’ during critical stages, such as construction of the foundations and installation of the drains and waterproofing. These surveys are proactive instead of reactive, giving you opportunities to take corrective action.

Reassuring buyers of building quality

If you want your development to pass Building Control inspections and receive a certificate of completion without a hitch, then getting a Structural Warranty earlier on can help. With our key stage surveys, you minimise the risk of overseeing an issue that could develop into a defect later.

This means that potential buyers and leaseholders, plus lenders who may be providing finance such as a mortgage, are more likely to trust in the quality of your building. Having both a Building Control certificate and a Structural Warranty certificate can go a long way in boosting customer confidence.

So, if you’re looking for a suitable building warranty for your construction project, whether it’s one or multiple properties, or for residential or commercial purposes, contact the Architects Certificate team today. Our ABC+ Warranty is one of the most competitive around, so request a quote today.

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Published Date: 21st June 2022
Category: structural warranty


 

17 
Jun

How does the Building Safety Act affect new build warranties?

How does the Building Safety Act affect new build warranties

Since the Building Safety Bill was introduced in July last year, there has been plenty of debate over the impact its reforms will have on the construction industry.

Now it’s being passed into English law as the Building Safety Act, everyone in this sector needs to know which regulations are changing and when the new laws come into force.

Let’s look into the timeline for new building regulations and how they will affect anyone providing or procuring a building warranty in England from June 2022.

How are new build warranties changing?

According to provisions in the Building Safety Act, all developers will have to secure a 15-year structural warranty for new builds and conversions before selling them. This prospective legal requirement will extend the minimum building warranty term from 10 years up to 15 years.

Though the Secretary of State has yet to set the specific regulations for new build warranties, they’re likely to mandate the following:

  • What each warranty must include (minimum levels of coverage and transferability)
  • The period of liability during which the developer is directly responsible for fixing problems
  • Financial penalties of up to £10,000 or 10% of the sale value for developers failing to comply

The requirement details, including costs and types of defects, will be in line with the Building Safety Act’s code of practice in the New Homes Ombudsman Scheme. Also, while new builds must have 15-year warranties, a parallel amendment to the Defective Premises Act 1972 extends retrospective liability from 6 years up to 30 years, allowing more homebuyers to claim compensation for defects.

Why is the government changing building safety laws?

The Building Safety Bill, now the Building Safety Act, aims to make significant changes to the ways that the construction industry operates in the UK. Following reviews of building regulations and fire safety after the Grenfell tragedy in 2017, the government is committed to improving building control standards, and giving people a clearer route of redress to ensure that any problems are fixed quickly.

With the range of proposed measures, the government will set out requirements to improve the ways that homes are constructed, especially residential high-rise buildings. New regulatory bodies will hold developers and builders to account by enforcing strict requirements for building safety and structural warranties, which will also give more transparency and peace of mind to homebuyers.

Overseeing every stage of construction, from planning and design to completion and occupation, should prevent miscommunications and mistakes. There should be clear expectations for all parties to avoid substandard work. Mandating warranty coverage also encourages developers to do their best work, as homeowners and leaseholders will have more opportunity to file claims against them.

When will these changes come into effect?

After receiving Royal Assent on 28th April 2022, the proposed Building Safety Bill was enshrined in law in England as the Building Safety Act. However, since these lengthy reforms require secondary legislation, most of these measures won’t be enforceable for around 12 to 18 months. This means that many of the new regulations won’t actually come into effect until 2023, or 2024 at the latest.

However, some parts of the Building Safety Act will come into effect much sooner. For example, extended liability will apply from 28th June 2022. From this date, new build structural warranties must provide 15 years of coverage rather than 10, and homeowners/leaseholders can now make structural defect claims for issues with pre-existing buildings up to 30 years after their completion.

Other aspects commencing from the end of June include increased regulations for construction products and enhanced leaseholder protections. To stay on top of which rules are being enforced when, it’s best to keep an eye on the government website for the latest building regulation updates.

Who does the Building Safety Act apply to?

The Building Safety Act and related secondary legislation will apply to the building industry and building owners, including architects, developers, contractors, and construction workers. Any person commissioning, planning, constructing, or refurbishing residential buildings – especially high-rises of at least 7 storeys or 18 metres – will need to follow the stricter requirements for building safety.

In particular, there will be a ‘gateway’ system designed to create a ‘golden thread’ of information that should keep everything in line through consultations at key stages:

  • Gateway One – planning permission applications demonstrating fire safety compliance
  • Gateway Two – building regulation compliance approved by a Building Safety Regulator
  • Gateway Three – final documentation submitted to Building Control for approval before issuance of a completion certificate

This should create a kind of unbroken thread of information that means problems can be identified right away, and regulators can halt construction at any stage if safety requirements aren’t being met. 

The gateway system will directly affect employers, contractors, and consultants who will be involved in any part of the construction process for multi-residential buildings in particular. Additionally, once a completed building is occupied, it must have a building safety management team with:

  • Accountable Person – the duty-holder (an individual or corporate body) responsible for registering with the Building Safety Regulator and applying for certification, plus assessing and revising safety risks and taking reasonable steps to prevent major incidents
  • Building Safety Manager – an individual or organisation appointed by the Accountable Person to support day-to-day management of structural and fire safety, including operating a complaints system for the building and complying with mandatory reporting
  • Special Measures Manager – appointed in the event of a First-Tier Tribunal case brought against the Accountable Person for repeated breaches of statutory obligations

As mentioned, non-compliance could result in a fine of 10% of the property sale value up to £10,000.

What should you do to prepare for the Building Safety Act?

While parts of the Building Safety Act are already in force, or soon to be, the majority depends on further legislation that is yet to come. There will be a more incremental transition for these aspects, so anyone in the construction or real estate sectors must keep up-to-date with each advancement.

For the time being, you should take the following steps if you believe the BSA will affect you:

  • Review your current terms and conditions for future compliance conditions
  • Update your document storage/record-keeping policy to reflect new time limitations
  • Re-evaluate third-party contracts, including professional indemnity insurance
  • Overhaul risk pricing procedures in consideration of potential future claims
  • Check past and current insurance policies for previously time-barred claims
  • Consider increasing provisions for more claims in your financial accounts
  • Keep track of regulatory developments as the BSA comes into full force

Similarly, anyone within your business should be made aware of the following changes:

  • High-risk buildings (as defined by the BSA) cannot be legally occupied until they are registered with the Building Safety Regulator
  • The Building Safety Regulator can issue compliance notices instructing certain actions, including commands to cease working
  • Notices for removing or altering non-compliant work can be issued up to 10 years from the date of completion (previously 12 months)
  • New build warranties must increase their coverage from 10 years to 15 years and comply with updated warranty regulations
  • Following Building Control approval, work must commence within 3 years before it lapses

It’s likely that the ‘gateway’ process will come into effect in April 2023, with registration systems for Building Control approval opening in April 2024. Don’t put off preparations until the last minute, though – figure out the changes you’ll have to make and how to fund them as early on as possible.

If you’re a current ABC+ Warranty policyholder or interested in applying for one of our building warranties soon, you can always contact our team to discuss the impact of the Building Safety Act.

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Published Date: 17th June 2022
Category: building warranty


 

15 
Jun

How much does a building warranty cost?

How much does a building warranty cost

While it isn’t required by law to have a building warranty, it’s often a requirement for financial lenders. So, if you want to get a mortgage to help you buy your dream home, you should make sure that the property has a structural warranty.

This policy should cover your property against latent structural defects from poor workmanship. Whether you want to buy or sell a new build within 10 years of its construction, you’ll find it much easier with the reassurance of a building warranty.

Building warranties are a relatively small expense with many benefits, but the cost can vary. Here are some of the main factors that can affect the cost of a structural building warranty.

Location and design

‘Where’ and ‘how’ are two of the most important questions when it comes to securing any type of insurance policy for a building. The property value will obviously vary depending on its size, but there are also regional differences. For example, property prices per square metre are generally higher in London and the surrounding southern area than in most towns in the north of England.

The type of building and its intended purpose will also affect the property’s value. Which materials and construction methods does it use? Will it be residential, commercial, or a mixed development? What about the ground conditions it’s built on? How likely are issues like subsidence and damp?

The larger a property is and the higher the risks associated with its location, design, and materials, the more it will cost to insure – which also applies to structural warranties.

Construction stage

The point the construction process has reached at the time of your application is also an important factor. Any building warranty provider worth their salt will want to inspect the build at key stages, from initial planning to completion, in order to identify any problems before they can cause defects.

If the property isn’t inspected from the beginning, and you only apply for a building warranty at a later stage, the risk of an unnoticed structural issue increases. That means the structural warranty price will also increase to reflect this level of risk. For this reason, it’s best to set up the warranty as soon as possible rather than waiting until partway through construction or until it’s all complete.

While it’s possible to get a kind of completed building warranty in some cases, it’s likely to cost a lot more – so don’t put it off if you want to get the cheapest quote.

Qualifications and experience

Relating to the construction process and materials, the experience of the construction workers not only affects the premiums, but also the likelihood of getting a structural warranty at all – not to mention a mortgage or other funding. Nobody will want to lend money or provide financial cover for a project with a team that has little to no experience in successfully completing projects of its type.

This is why it can be difficult to get a self-build warranty if you’re designing and constructing your own home without being a professional builder or architect. It’s usually the developer or project manager who first takes out the policy at the start, before transferring it to the homebuyer later on.

The more successful projects and years in business they have behind them, plus proof of relevant qualifications, the more likely a provider is to offer a favourable building warranty contract. 

How to get a building warranty quote

If you’re looking for a suitable structural warranty for your building that’s also affordable, why not try the ABC+ Warranty quick quote form? Or, for a more accurate quote that’s tailored to your circumstances, fill out our full quote request form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

We understand that you’ll want to shop around for the best offer, but bear in mind that we also offer to beat genuine quotations from other providers. So, if you find a better deal elsewhere, Architects Certificate will always beat it when you come back to us. Ten years of peace of mind are definitely worth the investment, so contact us today to arrange your structural building warranty.

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Published Date: 15th June 2022
Category: building warranty, Uncategorized


 

23 
May

Do I need new build home insurance to get a mortgage?

New build home insurance to get a mortgage

If you’re planning to buy, or have just bought, a new build home – congratulations! The first thing you should consider, in order to protect your investment, is new build home insurance.

Often, the builder or developer will have taken this out on your behalf. However, it’s important to ask who the provider is, and you should ask to see proof of this.

Whilst it’s not always the case that you’ll need new build home insurance in order to get a mortgage, it’s highly likely. The vast majority of lenders will want to see proof of your new build structural warranty when you apply for a mortgage.

Since they’re investing in the property, they need to protect their funds. New build home insurance will provide cover against the risk of loss or devaluation due to damage or structural defects.

In the unlikely event that you find a lender who will agree to providing you with a mortgage loan without a new build structural warranty, you’ll probably run into some issues. For example, they’ll probably only lend you a smaller percentage of the property value, and your monthly repayments will almost certainly be higher.

Which properties require new build home insurance?

A new build is a brand-new property that has never been lived in. The term usually refers to homes that have been constructed within the past two years.

Often, new build properties are purchased ‘off-plan’. This means before building work is complete, and sometimes before it’s even begun.

You should check your mortgage provider’s definition of a new build property before you apply for a loan, as there may be some exclusions mentioned.

If your builder or developer hasn’t already got a policy in place, it’s a good idea to avoid applying for your new build structural warranty too early. This is especially the case if you’re buying off-plan. Your mortgage valuation will often have a time limit, and will depend upon building specifications, which you may not have if construction isn’t complete yet.

Why do I need new build home insurance?

New build home insurance is not a legal requirement, but as we’ve mentioned, you’ll struggle to get a mortgage without a policy in place. It will also cover you in the event of floods, fires, subsidence, or even a car crashing into your home. So, it’s definitely worth considering even if you don’t need a mortgage loan.

It’s important to ensure that your policy is in place from when you exchange contracts, not just when you move in.  

Speak to an expert today

Architects Certificate provide 10-year new build structural warranties, meaning you can enjoy peace of mind when using your new property.

If you have any questions about our new build home insurance, get in touch. You can take out a policy with us as a builder, developer, or new homeowner.

Either give us a call on 0161 928 8804 or send us a message with your enquiry and we’ll get back to you shortly.

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Published Date: 23rd May 2022
Category: New Home Warranty Insurance


 

20 
May

What does self build insurance cover?

What does self build insurance cover

Whether you’ve just purchased a new plot of land ready to build a new home, or you’ve already begun to lay the foundations, self build insurance is one of the most important things to consider.

In fact, this type of insurance can even be required by law, so you must ensure you have it in place before you proceed with your building work.

What’s the difference between standard and self build structural warranties?

A self build structural warranty is different to a standard structural warranty. Whilst it follows the same period of defects insurance (2 years) and the same period of consecutive structural insurance (8 years), it requires different inspections. It’s particularly important to ensure that you have self-build insurance as opposed to a structural warranty if you’re not a professional builder or designer and you’re planning to do some of the work yourself.

What does a self-build structural warranty cover?

Self build insurance is a specialist product that will protect you and the property you’re constructing during the building process. It covers you against the risk of injury or damage whilst building the property, and also against structural defects that are found in the future.

You can take out a policy as a builder, developer or even a future homeowner, and the policy is transferable to any future owners of the property.

If you’re planning to own and live in the home that’s being constructed, then taking out legal protection against defective workmanship or design is vital. The self build insurance policy will not only cover your home for 10-12 years after completion, but will also protect you if the building contractors become insolvent before the construction work is complete.

If any structural problems become apparent in the first two years following completion of the build, your builders will be held responsible and legally obligated to rectify any issues at their own expense (or under their own self-build insurance policy).

Additionally, if there are any issues with your property after the first two years, but within the term of the self-build insurance cover (either 10 or 12 years), the builders won’t have to perform the repairs themselves, but your policy can pay for the work to be done.

Where can I buy a self build insurance policy?

Architects Certificate can provide you with self build insurance cover that will safeguard your build, with a qualified surveyor keeping an expert eye on proceedings. Their routine inspections will ensure your build is progressing safely, without any structural errors that could cause problems further down the line.

To find out more information about self build insurance cover, or to get a quote for a policy, get in touch with our knowledgeable team. You can either give us a call on 0161 928 8804 or send us a message using our online contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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Published Date: 20th May 2022
Category: self build checklist


 

11 
May

Does a new build home need a snagging survey?

new build snag checklist

Buying a new build home is exciting, but it’s important to be sure of what you’re getting before you commit to a sale. Nobody wants to move into their dream house just to discover endless problems with the building down the line. This is why it’s so important to thoroughly inspect the property before completion, giving you the opportunity to identify issues while there’s still time to fix them.

While it’s possible to do a DIY house survey, it’s easy to miss things or for developers to mislead you if you don’t know what you’re looking for. On the other hand, a structural warranty surveyor will have the experienced eye and equipment needed to analyse every aspect properly on your behalf.

Once the keys have been handed over and the home is officially yours, it can be difficult to get the seller or builder to take responsibility for fixing defects without this type of new build insurance. Here we run through the ways that new build surveys can help you, including a snag list template.

What is a snag list or snagging list?

A ‘snag’ is a slang term for a construction defect, with ‘snagging’ commonly used to refer to the process of identifying and correcting these defects. Snags tend to be the result of substandard workmanship and materials. They can be purely cosmetic, such as cracked tiles or messy paint, or more serious functional issues like faulty fittings – from windows and doors to wiring and plumbing.

The idea of a ‘snag list’ or ‘snagging list’ is to compile an inventory of existing or potential problems with a property at the time of the inspection. You can then present this information to the seller or builder, with the caveat that you cannot finalise the sale until they remedy all the issues on the list.

Of course, all new build homes undergo official checks for planning permissions before construction begins and building regulation compliance before receiving a certificate of completion. However, this doesn’t always guarantee that your new home will have the quality you expect, as these inspections might overlook comparatively minor issues, while a dedicated snag list should pick up on everything.

Who needs a professional property survey?

A snagging survey isn’t always necessary when buying a property. For example, when purchasing an older second-hand property a homebuyers’ survey would be more suitable. As this type of list is used to negotiate with the developer for further work, it’s most applicable for new build homes.

Completing a snagging list isn’t compulsory, but it’s useful when buying a new build off-plan or through the government’s Help to Buy scheme for first-time buyers. It can ensure that your finished property satisfies your expectations, rather than having to live with ongoing issues after moving in while the developer gives you the run-around – which they might try if you don’t have a warranty.

The developer isn’t obligated to provide a snagging survey for you, and they aren’t likely to offer, as many large developments are more concerned with quantity and speed than quality and attention to detail. Unless you have in-depth knowledge of construction yourself, you’re more likely to focus on superficial flaws during a DIY survey, and may not recognise the signs of more severe defects.

In these situations, it’s best to pass the responsibility to a qualified expert, who you can trust to carry out comprehensive inspections and push for resolutions to problems on your behalf. If you have a new build structural warranty in place, a surveyor should perform multiple inspections from the start of construction to right before completion, reducing the risk of undetected latent defects.

When should you get a snagging survey?

While professional inspections can take place at any point in the construction process, it’s best to do a dedicated snagging survey as closely as possible to completion. You can do this either before or after completion, but it’s best to assess the property before all work is finished and contracts signed, as the developers should be able to go back and correct the list of snags ahead of you moving in.

When you have a builder’s warranty or structural warranty that comes with the property, these policies usually give you 2 years from the property completion date to report more snags to the builder. After you move in, it’s important to document any defects you find with both written and photographic evidence from day one, so the builder can’t argue that you’re at fault for the damage.

A new build latent defects insurance policy, which is a type of 10-year structural warranty, can be an invaluable safety net if anything is missed off the snagging list. Not all defects are immediately noticeable, and some can take years to develop, long after the initial 2-year period expires. This is where the remaining 8 years of cover come in, easing the financial stress of repairing latent snags.

New build snag checklist: what to look out for

There are so many components in the construction of a house, but it’s necessary to check that every element has been implemented properly. Here’s a quick overview of what you should be inspecting:

  • Walls and ceilings – is plasterwork smooth and even, with neat finishing around sockets and pipes?
  • External brickwork – is it consistent in colour and placement, and free of chips and excess mortar?
  • Windows – is all glazing free of cracks, opening and closing properly with intact weather seals?
  • Doors – do all doors fit correctly within their frames, with working handles, hinges, locks, and bolts?
  • Floors – are all floors level and secured, with draught insulation and neatly finished skirting boards?
  • Staircases – do all stairs have level and stable treads, with secured balustrades and handrails?
  • Plumbing – do all taps, toilets, showers, washing machines etc work with a satisfactory water flow?
  • Heating – are boilers and radiators fitted safely, insulated appropriately, and working without leaks?
  • Electrics – are electrical outlets, fuse boxes, smoke alarms, and phone lines installed correctly?
  • Lighting – is there adequate lighting in all rooms, with uniformly fitted switches that all work?
  • Appliances – are any supplied appliances fitted and connected properly, with instruction manuals?
  • Fixtures and fittings – are sockets, faucets, kitchen units, curtains, carpets etc in good condition?
  • Paintwork – is every painted surface primed and finished evenly, with no splashes or exposed areas?
  • Pipework – are drains, downpipes, and gutters connected securely without leaks or blockages?
  • Roofs – is the roof sealed, insulated, and ventilated with secure flashing and no damaged tiles?
  • Gardens – if there is a garden, is the area free of construction debris and adequately landscaped?
  • Drives and pathways – are driveways and paths laid evenly with suitable gradients and materials?
  • Fences and gates – are the property boundaries completed with secure walls, fences, or gates?

Of course, this list is not exhaustive – and without prior experience in this area, you may not know what correct fittings should look like, or when a defect is minor and superficial or something serious.

How a structural warranty can help with snagging

As we’ve mentioned throughout, the easiest way to protect your financial investment in your new build house is to secure a structural warranty as early as possible. When you take out such a policy with a specialist provider like Architects Certificate, the key stage inspections can negate the need to carry out a separate snagging survey. Any problems will already be flagged in the regular reports.

Of course, you have the option of hiring a dedicated snagging surveyor, but this generates another bill, while you could take advantage of the reports included in the warranty you’re already paying for if you really wanted to create a new build snagging list. Additionally, you’d have to negotiate with the developer about snags yourself, whereas structural warranty claims give you some reassurance.

Do you think you could benefit from a new build structural warranty to help protect you against snags? Fill out our quick quote form online to receive your no-obligation quotation today, or contact our team with any enquiries by emailing info@architectscertificate.co.uk or calling 0161 928 8804.

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Published Date: 11th May 2022
Category: building warranty, Home warranty, structural warranty


 

13 
Apr

Signs of structural damage to look out for in your house

signs of structural defects
Whether your home is a new build or pre-owned, there’s the possibility of latent structural defects in every building. A structural defect is a fault that compromises the integrity of the structure – such as a damaged roof or foundation.

The majority of structural defects stem from negligent or deliberately poor quality construction work, but they often aren’t obvious. A latent defect can take a long time to develop, only becoming a serious problem, months or years down the line.

From cracks in walls to leaking roofs, it’s important to nip these defects in the bud before they get any worse. The longer you leave them to deteriorate, the more difficult and costly they’ll be to fix – and it could even cause parts of your house to collapse.

While the extent of structural faults may not be obvious or even visible straight away, there are still some tell-tale signs you can keep an eye out for. Here’s our quick guide to the causes and types of common structural defects, and how a building warranty can help you to avoid expensive home repairs.

What causes structural defects?

There are many possible causes of structural flaws, but they often start with defective design and workmanship. For example, an architect could make a mistake in their building plans, an engineer could make a miscalculation, or a contractor could purchase the wrong materials for the project.

Whether the plans are accurate or not, the construction workers can also be careless, either on purpose or by accident. Failing to follow proper procedures and installing things incorrectly can lead to countless issues, such as weak spots in the walls, uneven flooring, and unstable foundations.

Of course, all homes need to comply with building regulations for residences and local planning permissions, but any person or even several people can overlook an error at any point in the process. It’s also possible for this to happen later if you make further structural alterations.

This is just one reason why diligent structural inspections are important. When your property has a structural building warranty, part of the package involves a chartered surveyor inspecting the site at regular intervals during the build, which makes it more likely for mistakes to be discovered earlier.

Other frequent causes of latent structural defects include the following:

  • Subsidence – sinking movement due to loss of foundational support (e.g. dry soil shrinking)
  • Heave – shifting due to increased pressure from underneath (e.g. wet soil swelling)
  • Slope creep – slow and uneven downhill movement due to gradual landslips
  • Settlement – natural sinking as the structure compacts soil underneath (can be uniform, tipping at an angle, or differential with only part of the foundation dropping)
  • Water ingress – weakening from damp, mould, and rot caused by gaps in waterproofing

Improper ventilation and insulation can cause structural materials, like the mortar between bricks, to expand and contract with changing temperatures and airflow. This causes cracking and eventual destabilisation – as can climbing plants and invasive weeds, if they get a foothold in the masonry.

Signs of structural damage to your house

When you see your home every single day, you may not pay close attention to small changes. On the other hand, since you know what it’s supposed to be like, you might notice a defect right away when there’s a crack in the wall that shouldn’t be there or your windows won’t open properly anymore.

No matter if you’re a particularly observant person or not, you should periodically check both the inside and outside of your house for signs of structural damage. At least once a month or so, do a thorough visual inspection of the exterior and interiors to look out for the following problems:

  • Cracks in walls, around windows or door frames, or in masonry
  • Gaps where walls and floors should join due to warping/sagging
  • Tilting chimney stack or cracks in any part of the chimney
  • Slumping or buckling roof (weak or rotting beams/rafters)
  • Bowing walls that bulge or curve inwards, with or without cracks
  • Nails popping out of plaster/drywall from too much pressure
  • Windows and doors sticking in their frames from low settlement
  • Sloping floors and/or doors swinging open due to uneven subfloors
  • Migrating porch/front steps due to soil shrinking away from foundations 

These are just some of the most frequent visible signs of structural failure. While it’s normal to see small hairline cracks as a house settles over the years, large and long horizontal cracks and vertical cracks that follow a ‘staircase’ pattern are an urgent warning, as they’re signs of structural erosion.

If you notice the first hints of any of the above, don’t just ignore them or try to work around them. Filling in gaps, painting over cracks, and adjusting hinges won’t fix the underlying defects, which will only continue to get worse. It’s crucial to identify the source and tackle it promptly and completely.

What to do if you find a structural defect

The last thing any property owner wants is to discover a latent defect that requires expensive repair work. Even if the damage isn’t your fault, you’ll still have to foot the bill yourself if you don’t have a contract that holds the responsible parties liable – unless you have a structural warranty to rely on.

If you begin to notice signs that something is wrong with your structure, don’t brush them off. You could be putting yourself or others in danger – both physically and financially. The steps you’ll need to take depend on how long it’s been since the completion certificate was issued for the property.

When it’s been less than 2 years from the date of completion, you’re still in the defects insurance period. This means you should be able to report defects directly to the builder/contractor, who is obligated to conduct the necessary repairs during this time and recoup costs via their own insurance.

If it’s been more than 2 years, but less than 10 years, you’ll be in the remaining structural insurance period. During these 8 years, the policy only covers serious latent structural defects, and you must submit a claim through the provider – like ourselves at Architects Certificate – instead of contacting the builder. The terms of your warranty will specify which defects you can claim for and the amount.

What to do about defects if you don’t have a structural warranty

Unfortunately, without a structural building warranty in place, your options are limited and likely to be pricey. You can either pay for assessments and repairs yourself, or take the party you believe to be responsible to court (e.g. a builder or architect) – in which case, you’ll have to supply evidence proving their liability and negligence, and arrange legal representation, none of which will be cheap.

If you don’t have a building warranty to fall back on, you can still hire an expert to conduct a one-off structural inspection. They should be able to identify the defects and their probable causes, explain what must be done to fix them, and provide a report that can help you with organising repair work.

The sooner you uncover a defect and take action, the less money, time, and stress it should involve to put it right. If you are buying or selling a new property and need a structural warranty, or you already have a policy with us, you can get in touch with the ABC+ Warranty team on 0161 928 8804.

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Published Date: 13th April 2022
Category: building warranty, structural warranty


 

11 
Apr

Can you get a building warranty for a barn conversion?

While many first-time buyers prefer the reassurance of a brand-new building, lots of people want to live somewhere more unique than a ‘cookie-cutter’ development. For some, their dream home is a self-build from the ground up, but for others, it’s an existing structure renovated into a residence.

With land at a premium, it makes sense to look for existing properties to upgrade, which is why conversions are popular. Common examples include department stores turned into apartments, and disused churches and barns transformed into avant-garde businesses or private accommodation.

However, the issue with converting an older building is that it’s unlikely to have a current structural warranty, but it is likely to have some structural problems. They won’t necessarily be latent defects originating from poor construction, but the older a building is, the more wear and tear it will have endured over the years.

So, is it possible to get a new structural warranty for a barn conversion? This blog explores some of your barn conversion warranty options, answering common questions about why it’s better to have a structural warranty for your barn conversion project and how to set one up. 

What counts as a barn conversion?

A converted barn is an agricultural structure that has been renovated for another use, whether that’s domestic or commercial. Originally used as storage for farming equipment and housing for livestock, barns are typically found in rural areas, making them ideal to convert into rustic homes or quirky businesses. Barn conversions have been known to become restaurants, offices, and more.

Developers and individuals are often on the lookout for modifiable buildings with a unique selling point, and an idyllic adapted barn fits the bill. While other structures such as cow sheds can also be converted into dwellings, a disused barn is more likely to have desirable architectural features, like:

  • Double doors and lots of windows
  • Vaulted ceilings with exposed beams
  • Double-height rooms/mezzanine floors
  • Open-plan layouts suitable for modern living

Convertible barns are solid structures with plenty of space inside, usually in a prime countryside location. However, the aesthetics and the views won’t matter if the structure is unusable. You need to consider the materials used for the barn’s construction, such as timber or stone, and the age of the structure and degree of deterioration. The type of structure is also important, as it could be:

  • Box construction (four walls to support the whole structure)
  • Cruck frame (internal A-frames to support roof and walls)
  • Post and truss (internal frames to support roof joined with vertical posts)

These are the most common barn types, but whichever construction method was used, and whether it’s a stone barn or a timber barn, converting it into a dwelling in line with building regulations is likely to take a lot of time, effort, and money. After all, an unused barn probably has no plumbing or electrical wiring, and little insulation, which are all basic requirements for a liveable modern home. 

Can you get a barn conversion structural warranty?

Yes, you can. It may not be as straightforward as getting a new build warranty, but it’s possible. The difficult part is finding a provider who doesn’t perceive a barn conversion to be a risky investment. Barn conversion insurance is a small market, with few lenders willing to take those financial risks.

As a large-scale project, with an older structure and lots of installations and restorations involved, there is a greater potential for structural defects to occur than if you were building a barn-style home from scratch. Therefore, if you do secure a warranty, it will require much more exhaustive and frequent assessments before and during the development, and probably paying higher premiums.

Ideally, the cover for your barn conversion project should follow a similar format to the standard structural warranty. This would include an initial defects insurance period of two years, then a structural insurance period of eight years. Those first two years hold the builders or contractors accountable for fixing construction issues, while the remainder covers major structural defects only.

During this secondary period of cover, you would have to claim for repair costs directly through the warranty provider, who would pay for a significant portion of the necessary works if your claim was successful. Since the kinds of structural defects that might occur in a barn conversion can be very different from a regular house, it’s crucial to set up a bespoke barn conversion warranty early on.

Does a barn conversion really need a building warranty?

Since structural warranties aren’t legally required, even for converting old buildings, some people believe it’s a skippable expense. However, doing so could get you into hot water later on, especially if you aren’t self-funding the project. Most banks refuse to lend to self-builders without adequate insurance, because they risk losing their money if the structure develops defects that need repairing.

Even if you are putting up the money for the barn conversion completely by yourself, you should want to protect that investment even more. If anything goes wrong with the design or construction, but the defect isn’t evident until later, what will you do? Do you want to be left footing the repair bill yourself, too? Or paying to take third parties to court and provide evidence of their negligence?

Having a barn conversion structural warranty to fall back on is a much more convenient option. This not only gives you some peace of mind, but also makes the property more attractive to tenants or buyers if you plan to rent or sell the completed barn conversion. Overall, with a structural warranty to help cover the costs of latent structural defects, there’s simply less hassle and stress to deal with.

There are so many factors associated with converting a barn that it would make no financial sense to see it all wasted because of other people’s errors. Don’t make the mistake of skipping a structural warranty to try and save money, because it will cost a lot more in the long run to fix latent defects.

How can you get a barn conversion warranty?

If you’re currently on the hunt for a barn conversion warranty, then you’re in luck. At Architects Certificate, we offer an adjustable ABC+ Warranty that can provide latent defects cover for a variety of building types. While insuring barn conversions can be tricky, we’re always up to the challenge.

For the best chance of securing coverage and an agreeable quote, start the application process as soon as possible – around 6 weeks before any work starts, at least. Preparing all the documents in advance will also help if you’ll be applying for a bank loan or mortgage. You’ll need to provide:

  • Site plans (including drawings, specifications, and location details for the whole site)
  • Structural report (listing condition details, ground levels, and conversion suitability)
  • Photographs (full-colour pictures of the interior, exterior, and surroundings)
  • Waterproof envelope (existing damp-proofing materials and proposed waterproofing)
  • Ground investigation report (explaining ground quality, soil strength, contamination, etc)
  • Valuations (of the existing structure and planned development once completed)
  • Design/construction contracts (specifying building works, timelines, and estimated costs)

The more thorough your supporting evidence, the better your chances of getting a favourable contract. To find out more about how Architects Certificate can help you or to request a barn conversion warranty quote, you can fill out and submit our online application form or call us on 0161 928 8804.

Our chartered surveyors are experts in carrying out thorough structural assessments, and can provide detailed reports on the condition of the structure. To see some examples of the kinds of building conversions we’ve worked with before, take a look at our gallery of previous projects.

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Published Date: 11th April 2022
Category: ABC+ warranty, building warranty, structural warranty, warranty enquiries


 

 

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