While a building warranty gives you some peace of mind in the event of latent structural damage, helping to cover the cost of repair works, the policy most likely doesn’t cover unrelated water damage. This is why homeowners are encouraged to take out home insurance policies as well.
There are many possible causes of water damage to a property, but only limited situations where it’s relevant to structural warranties. Let’s look at what exactly building warranties do, how water damage fits into the picture, and when you can make a warranty claim for water damage.
Generally, a building warranty should be set up at the beginning of construction as a safeguard against latent structural defects. It’s not a legal requirement for builders and developers to get this type of policy for the property they’re building and/or selling, but it’s in their best interests to do so.
The structural warranty passes onto the new building owner when somebody buys it, which then gives the buyer the ability to make warranty claims against them if they discover a problem with their building work later on. If a structural defect develops several years later, the buyer can make claims through the warranty provider without having to involve the original builder or developer.
A typical building warranty will include multiple periods of cover concerning different elements:
The warranty therefore covers the property for 10 years in total, though smaller defects are only covered for the first 2 years, while latent structural defects are covered until the end of the policy.
Bear in mind that this may change soon, as the Building Safety Act aims to increase the minimum building warranty term to 15 years. Additionally, this type of structural warranty is not the same as a builder’s warranty – whose 1-year coverage usually includes minor non-structural elements like paint and plasterwork, and any appliances or furnishings such as carpets provided with the home.
Make sure to read all the paperwork relating to your property thoroughly, so you know which policy covers what and for how long. Don’t forget to pay attention to any property owner obligations listed in the contract, as failing to reasonably meet such conditions could invalidate any claims you make.
As mentioned above, the best way to know for sure what is and isn’t included in your building warranty coverage is to read your specific policy terms front to back. Structural warranty exclusions normally name certain causes of damage that won’t be covered by the policy, which tend to include:
When it comes to water damage, this means that you can’t make a claim under your building warranty if it was caused by any of these things. For example, if your home flooded because of heavy rain, or if your roof was eroded due to clogged gutters that you didn’t maintain, then it’s not related to structural damage caused by poor design, building work, or construction materials.
This is why you need home insurance as well as a structural warranty. While home insurance doesn’t cover structural defects, it can fill in the gaps and provide financial remediation for damaged property for other reasons. For example, contents insurance can help you to replace belongings lost to fire or water damage, while buildings insurance can do the same for non-structural building parts.
In construction, latent structural defects are problems with the building’s core structure that aren’t detected until years after its completion. They are essentially hidden flaws that have existed since the start or began developing early, but didn’t have immediately noticeable side effects until much later. These can be caused by poor choices of materials, design mistakes, or shoddy workmanship.
Part of the purpose of a building warranty is to catch potential problems like this early in the process through regular inspections. This way, they can be identified as patent defects and then corrected before they get the chance to develop into latent defects that can cause severe issues.
Under these definitions, water damage itself isn’t a structural defect. This means you can’t make a building warranty claim for the damage resulting from the water. However, if the water damage results from a structural problem that the builder and/or designer was responsible for, then it might be valid grounds for a claim. For example, water ingress can happen if components like the roof or the foundations weren’t completed properly or built with inappropriate construction materials.
That said, even a successful water damage-related structural warranty claim will only cover the costs of repairs to the structural damage. Anything else damaged by the water won’t be included, such as carpets, furniture, appliances, and personal possessions. These will fall under your contents insurance policy, so you can make a separate home insurance claim for them at the same time.
You can make a claim under your building warranty if you’re seeking costs to cover repairs to the damage caused to the structure by water – as long as said structural damage is due to a failure in the original construction or design. The water must have been able to penetrate the structure because of faulty materials or incorrect installation that can be traced back to the building process.
This kind of claim is less common, because building warranty inspections during construction should include structural waterproofing reports. These surveys and reports should identify any possibilities of water ingress and ensure that they are addressed. The building envelope should be designed and completed properly to prevent water intrusion through the ground, walls, windows, doors, or roofs.
Here are some of the most common mistakes that lead to latent structural defects that can allow water to enter the building and cause further damage to the structure and everything within it:
⦿ Rising damp in the foundations – caused by lack of site investigations into ground conditions, poor cutting of the damp proof course (DPC), incorrect lapping of the damp proof membrane (DPM), using low-level cavity trays, and completing foundations at the wrong depths and levels.
⦿ Water penetrating cavity walls – caused by insufficient cavity widths, bridging cavities with lumps of cement, installing insulation poorly or using the wrong material, positioning wall ties wrongly or not using enough, and mistakes when fixing cavity closures, trays, joints, and lintels.
⦿ Water penetrating through roofs – caused by using the wrong fixings or mortar strength, lack of bracing and roof truss restraints, wrongly fitted underfelt or insulation, inaccurately laid slate or tiles without the right overlap, and problems with cavity trays, flashings, chimneys, or gutters.
If anything like this has allowed water to penetrate your building and resulted in damp, mould, rot, or further deterioration, then you could have the basis for a successful structural warranty claim.
Water intrusion is difficult to detect, which allows it to get worse over time and cause more unseen damage. By the time it’s noticeable to the home’s occupants, such as mould growing within a wall cavity, the damage can be severe. You’ll need an expert to inspect the structure and identify the source of the water ingress – and if it comes down to a latent structural defect, you can file a claim.
It can be helpful to have a building warranty to contribute to repair costs, but the real money-saver would be minimising the risk of water damage from a structural defect in the first place. Not only should you only purchase property constructed by a reputable builder from a trustworthy seller, but you should make sure that it comes with a structural warranty that’s been in place since the start.
When you arrange a building warranty with a respectable provider like Architects Certificate, we send our chartered surveyors to inspect the site and developing structure at multiple key stages. This is a pro-active method to seek out mistakes-in-the-making as early as possible, saving everyone involved time and money compared to having to correct them and fix any resulting damage later.
If you would like to speak to one of our building warranty experts about the policies we can provide at Architects Certificate, please call us on 0161 928 8804 or email email@example.com.
Enter your details below and one of our experts will be in touch
Fill in your details on the right and one of our friendly team will be back in touch.
We’ll get back to you after submitting your details.
You should hear back from us within 48 Hours of submitting your details.