When you’re buying a newly constructed building or making alterations to an existing one, you should never compromise on the quality of the work. This could then compromise not only your financial investment, but more importantly, the building’s safety.
There are several ways to ensure that building work is inspected and approved by qualified professionals – one of them being historically known as an Architect’s Certificate.
This certificate provides assurance to purchasers that there is a guarantee of building standards being met, which can be used as evidence to take the builders to court if they’re responsible for problems developing later.
Having this type of certification is also a common requirement for mortgage lenders before they’ll agree to a loan helping the buyer to purchase the building or renovate it.
However, you won’t hear people discussing Architect’s Certificates as much these days. This blog explains why, and what the alternatives are.
Since this type of certificate is often provided by architects, this gave it the common name of Architect’s Certificate. It was also known as a CML Certificate, as it used to be approved by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).
When this industry body was merged with several other financial organisations to create UK Finance in 2017, the old certificate was replaced with the Professional Consultant’s Certificate (PCC).
The terms are sometimes still used interchangeably due to long-standing industry habits. As the certifications are essentially the same, they are still valid, whichever name is used.
That said, anything issued as an Architect’s or CML Certificate prior to the merger in July 2017 will expire by July 2023. This is because such certificates are only valid for a period of 6 years from the completion date of the construction work.
While the older terms are outdated, PCCs are still being issued by UK Finance-approved providers and are still accepted by most banks and building societies in the UK.
The certificate still needs to be administered by a professional consultant, such as a qualified architect or chartered surveyor, who is registered with a relevant industry authority. Once signed off, it will verify that the professional consultant oversaw the major aspects of the project and that the completed work complies with the approved plans and Building Regulations.
The certificate holder and any lenders they apply to then have quality assurance backed by the professional’s indemnity insurance, so they can make a claim against the professional consultant to hold them liable for any structural damages that may develop later.
As explained above, a PCC is the new name and form of what was previously known as an Architect’s Certificate or CML Certificate. They can be administered by any consultant registered with an accredited body approved by UK Finance.
The certificate will confirm that the newly constructed or renovated building has been completed to the appropriate regulatory standards. By issuing the final certification, the professional consultant supplying the document confirms they have:
If a problem is found within the cover period and a claim made against the professional consultant, it’s their indemnity insurance that will pay out for successful claims of professional negligence.
The reason that these certificates aren’t talked about as much is that the cover they offer isn’t as extensive as alternative options. When you make a claim against a PCC provider, if they do not admit that they’re responsible for the problem, you’ll have to take them to court to prove their liability.
While those on lower budgets may prefer to get a PCC because it’s typically cheaper than the alternatives, suing a professional consultant can be a lengthy and costly process that could cancel out these savings. If the professional consultant goes out of business during the cover period, you would also end up with no cover and nobody to claim against.
The important thing to remember about PCCs is that their coverage is limited, and they are not warranties. A PCC only certifies that the property is completed to a satisfactory legal standard according to the professional consultant signing off on it.
While a valid PCC will hold the professional consultant liable if a design defect is discovered within the next 6 years, it doesn’t provide a route for direct insurance claims. If you want more extensive coverage against structural defects and the ability to claim financial compensation directly, the more reliable option is a building warranty.
With a structural building warranty, you won’t have to prove liability or negligence in court. If a defect occurs as a result of poor workmanship or substandard materials, a successful claim during the cover period should pay out for the cost of repairing it. Even if the builder goes out of business, you can still make a claim directly to the warranty provider.
A PCC is a valid option when you’re looking for something faster and more affordable, but it’s best to upgrade this coverage to a structural warranty as soon as possible to reduce potential hassles later on. The longer you wait, the higher the premiums will be, so it’s a good idea to look into structural warranties early in the process to secure greater coverage and peace of mind.
Whether you’re a property developer or builder or a buyer looking for a new home or conversion, you should always make sure the building owner and any lenders have the best level of protection for their financial investment.
You may want to set up a Professional Consultant’s Certificate quickly, with the intention of arranging a structural warranty before the construction project is finished. In some cases, it may be possible to get one retrospectively after completion, but this may cost more, as there will be fewer and less comprehensive inspections.
Whichever route you want to explore – or if you would like to hear about suitable options for your circumstances – we supply both PCCs and structural warranties for different types of properties here at ABC+ Warranty Architects Certificate.
Get in touch with our team today to learn more about our ABC+ Warranty, and discuss which of our coverage options would be best for your project.
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