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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.