Monthly Archives: June 2022

 

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


 

 

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