What is a Structural Warranty?

Sometimes known as Latent Defects Insurance, a Structural Warranty is an insurance policy that protects you against structural defects in a new build, conversion, or renovated building.

This means that if your building develops problems due to poor workmanship or materials, you should receive financial compensation to help cover the costs of structural damage and repairs.

The Structural Warranty usually lasts 10-12 years from the date on the Building Control Completion Certificate. This Building Regulations certification does not offer financial protection itself.

Most mortgage lenders will not release funds without an approved Structural Warranty in place, to protect their investment as much as yours. This can delay property sales and purchases.

Structural defects can become apparent at any time in the years after construction finishes. It’s best to have at least 10 years of precautionary cover to help you with the expense of fixing such issues.

10 Year Building Warranty by ABC+

Our award-winning ABC+ Building Warranty covers all types of properties, whether residential or commercial. This includes new builds and conversions, single dwellings and mixed development schemes, self-builds and Housing Association homes, and more.

The ABC+ 10 Year Structural Warranty offers to beat any other genuine quote from an alternative provider (such as NHBC, Premier, LABC, Protek, Checkmate, BLP, or Advantage Warranty). When you appoint us prior to the commencement of works, your quotation will be lower.

It’s best to get a Structural Warranty in place as early as possible, so it can also protect your deposit during and after works if contractors or builders become insolvent at any point.

We can also provide retrospective Structural Warranties for completed properties, or ongoing projects if you appoint us partway through construction. However, retrospective warranties are likely to have higher premiums, due to reduced inspection opportunities.

Which types of Structural Warranty do you provide?

Whether you require a standard Structural Warranty for a residential or commercial building, or something more bespoke like a conversion or custom build, we’ll do our best to adapt our ABC+ Warranty to suit your needs. We offer a range of policy types at Architects Certificate, including:

Of course, we also offer 6 Year Professional Consultants Certificates (PCC) as an alternative to a 10 Year Structural Warranty. Formerly known as a CML Certificate (Council of Mortgage Lenders), a merger of trade bodies formed UK Finance in 2017. All of our architects’ certificates and warranties comply with the UK Finance Lenders’ Handbook, and you can find our approved lender list here.

Why choose us for your Structural Warranty?

ABC+ Warranty is a unique trade-marked system for Architects Certificate (2017). This is our own warranty product, and it offers some of the best value for money on the market. We do not require membership fees or holding bonds, and we can issue our certifications within hours, not weeks.

When you commence with our 6 Year CML Certificate, known as a UK Finance Professional Consultants Certificate, you also have the option to upgrade to a 10 Year Building Warranty. This allows you to save money with a PCC until a lender requires you to have a Structural Warranty.

Through key inspections, our chartered surveyors perform our due diligence to ensure that latent structural defects won’t occur down the line. However, even the best builders can’t always guarantee that nothing will happen, so it’s worth upgrading to a 10 Year Structural Warranty.

Many approved lenders accept our PCC and 10 Year Structural Warranty, so you can rest assured that your paperwork will be in order. Get an indicative QUICK QUOTE in minutes, or call our offices on 0161 928 8804 to discuss your building project. Our team of warranty experts will be happy to help.

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Why do I need a Structural Warranty?

Even if the buyer of a new build pays in cash, it’s still advisable to get a warranty in place.

This is because if they ever come to sell the property, the new buyer may be reliant on a mortgage to fund the purchase, and if there’s no structural warranty in place it could cause delays or result in the purchase falling through.

Having a structural warranty provides reassurance to lenders that the property is financially covered for any defects, and reduces the risk of them losing money if problems are discovered.

These structural warranties are usually taken out by the builders or developers to cover the new owners.

What does a Structural Warranty include?

A Structural Warranty covers defects in the building and design of a construction project, as well as any defects uncovered in the materials used in the build.

An insurance provider will usually carry out scheduled checks of the build at different stages to inspect for any defects.

While the stages when these technical audits are carried out can differ, they’re usually done during the laying of the foundations, the building of the main structure, the pre felt and batten of the roof, the pre plaster of any interior walls, and finally at completion of the project.

Inspectors will be looking for any signs of degradation (such as cracks in the walls or structural issues with the foundation) to ensure the structure will be safe.

Our award-winning ABC+ Building Warranty covers all types of properties from residential to commercial, newly built to converted, mixed development schemes to single dwellings, housing associations to self-builders.

How long does a Structural Warranty last?

Depending on the provider and level of cover provided, most structural warranties will provide higher levels of cover during the first few years of the warranty.

This is because during the first two years, the developer or builder is responsible for fixing any defects.

After this, the financial cover will still be available but the buyer will be responsible for sourcing the work.

It may also be required that you have the property inspected by an insurer on a regular basis to retain the warranty during the life cycle.

What does a Structural Warranty cover?

Getting a Structural Warranty for your project will cover you against a number of issues that could arise in the future, such as:

  • Costs to fully or partially rebuild a building as a result of structural defects, and the costs to fix any defects within a property that are attributed to defects in the design and build of a property, or any defects discovered in the materials used for the projects
  • Costs to rectify damage caused by water as a result of problems with the design, build or materials used in a project
  • Costs associated with fixing issues caused as a result of the drainage system built as part of the construction project
  • Insolvency of the developer (if requested at the quotation stage)
  • Defects insurance for a period of up to 24 months after practical completion
  • Structural insurance after 24 month have elapsed from practical completion 
  • Contaminated land cover
  • Alternative accommodation costs
  • Fees
  • Removal of debris

If you would like to find out more information about what structural warranty includes read our guide here.

As well as this it can also be used to cover the following (depending on the individual provider and policy):
  • Deposit protection in the event the developer goes bankrupt
  • The cost of removing contaminated land from the development plot
  • Cover in case the property (or parts of it) were not built in proper compliance with buildings regulations

What doesn’t a Structural Warranty cover?

A Structural Warranty will protect you from risks caused by defective work or materials, but there could be building issues that arise after a project is completed that won’t be covered by a warranty.

These include:

  • Alterations/ change in colour/ consequential loss
  • Defects in existing work/ humidity/ Japanese knotweed
  • Maintenance and use/ personal injury/ prior knowledge of defects
  • Radioactive contamination, chemical, biological, biochemical and electromagnetic weapons
  • Settlement/ sonic bangs/ special perils/ subsidence
  • Toxic mould/ vermin/ war and terrorism risks
  • Water table/ wear and tear/ wilful acts

As well as the above, defective workmanship in the first 2 years after completed works aren’t covered..

This is known as the Developer Liability Period.

During the first 2 years it is the responsibility of the developer/contractor to rectify defective workmanship.

When should I buy a Structural Warranty?

Ideally you should have a Structural Warranty in place before any building work takes place, this ensures that the project has been supervised through every stage of development and will cover you comprehensively.

However, it is possible to get a Structural Warranty once the building work has started, but this will make the cost more expensive.

If you don’t have a Structural Warranty in place, we’d recommend you get one as soon as possible.

If your property is for residential use, it can make it nearly impossible to sell or secure a mortgage against a building without a Structural Warranty.

This is because many banks require one to assess the integrity of the build before they’ll release any funds – at least for buildings under 10 years old.

Do you need a Structural Warranty for an extension?

Generally, a structural warranty applies to the specific property as it was when the contract began. This covers the property for up to 10 years from completion, so you can claim for repair expenses if anything goes wrong that can be traced back to the original construction (latent structural defects).

If you move out and sell the property during the cover period, the policy will stay with the building and transfer to its new owner for the remainder. After 10 years, the building warranty will expire. However, if you make any changes to the structure during this decade, it could invalidate the policy.

This means that work such as structural renovations or constructing an extension on your existing building is outside the scope of the existing warranty, so that part of the building and any areas attached to it will not be covered by your current policy. If the property is already over 10 years old and the warranty has expired anyway, then this shouldn’t be a problem – but if you start knocking through walls or converting lofts or garages with a few years left, it may be worth getting a new one.

Along with getting site surveys, planning permissions from local authorities, and complying with building regulations, you must contact your structural warranty provider to discuss your options. If that’s us, then get in touch as soon as possible to find out whether we can amend or upgrade your policy to cover the extension for the remainder of your building warranty, or arrange a new one.

Don’t forget that altering the structure of your home will also impact any other ongoing insurance policies you have on the building. Since most homeowners have two types of home insurance, both contents insurance and building insurance, you’ll also probably need to update or change your policies to reflect the new elements of the property. This is likely to increase your premiums, too.

Is a Structural Warranty compulsory?

No.

Under UK planning and building laws there is no requirement to get a Structural Warranty.

But, having said that, the majority of lenders will expect you to have one before they’ll sign off on a mortgage.

It can also make it extremely difficult to sell a house that’s under 10 years old without a Structural Warranty.

This is typically the case regardless of whether you’re building property for commercial or residential purposes.

If you’re building commercial property on finance, lenders will usually require you to have a Structural Warranty in place before the start of the project.

How much does a Structural Warranty cost?

The cost of a Structural Warranty will differ depending on a few factors, like:

  • The type of build
  • The individual provider
  • The stage of development you get a warranty
  • The experience of the main contractor/developer

One thing that will immediately make your warranty more expensive, is delaying until after the project has started.

This is because inspectors will want to have oversight on the project from the concept stage. 

If they’ve not signed off the drawings or materials, they won’t have the same level of confidence.

ABC+ Building Warranty offers to beat any other genuine quotation that you may have received from another provider such as NHBC, Premier, LABC, Protek, Advantage Warranty, Checkmate, BLP, One Guarantee  or the LABC.

Why get your Structural Warranty from ABC+?

Your Building Warranty is an important piece of insurance when undertaking any type of construction and building project, so you need to get it from a trusted source.

At Architects Certificate we’ve worked on tens of thousands of residential and commercial property projects through the UK and can provide one of the most cost-effective Structural Warranties on the market.

Unlike other providers, we don’t require membership fees OR Holding bonds and, best of all, our certification can be issued within minutes.

Get our indicative QUICK QUOTE in minutes or call our offices to discuss your building project tel. 0161 928 8804

ABC+ Warranty is a unique, trade-marked system for Architects Certificates and Professional Consultants Certificate Ltd.

For a full list of Approved lenders please click here

This is our own Warranty product.

We don’t need to search the whole of the market for other providers’ products as we know that our ABC+ Warranty offers the best value for money.

Can I get a mortgage without a Structural Warranty?

It’s not mandatory to have a Structural Warranty, as they technically aren’t required by law. The main reason you need one is to protect your financial investment in the property. Similarly, banks are unlikely to offer you a mortgage loan if your property presents an unprotected financial risk. After all, if you wouldn’t want to put your money into an uninsured development, why would they?

Even if you find a lender willing to provide a mortgage without a Structural Warranty, they will probably offer you a smaller loan, meaning you’ll have to cover the rest of the property’s value yourself. It’s better to secure a 10 Year Building Warranty early on, and update it later if required.

Most lenders expect homebuyers to already have a Structural Warranty set up before applying for a mortgage, as the appropriate certifications and site inspections need to be confirmed before they release any funds. They’re likely to take this approach whether you opt for stage payments or a lump sum, and much less likely to accept your application without a warranty at least being in progress.

You’ll also find it much easier to sell the property with a warranty, if you intend to do so within 10 years of its completion. The Structural Warranty stays with the building and transfers to the new owners, making the property more attractive to potential buyers. Just like yourself and the mortgage lender want to avoid financial loss and devaluation, new buyers will also prefer to protect themselves.

Always check that everything you want your Structural Warranty to cover is specified in the contract terms before you agree to it, as it may be difficult to change it later if your mortgage provider has an issue with the policy that prevents your application from being successful. Bear in mind that even with a successful mortgage and Structural Warranty, further construction work on the property can invalidate the initial warranty (see FAQ on extensions above), and may also mean re-mortgaging it.

Do you still need home insurance if you have a Structural Warranty?

A Structural Warranty is not the same thing as home insurance, so you do need to have both policies in place. The 10 Year Building Warranty only covers structural issues stemming from defective workmanship and materials. This also covers design and land inspection failures.

However, it doesn’t cover ordinary wear and tear, or damage from weather or lack of maintenance. Most mortgage lenders will require a building insurance policy as well, which covers the integrity of the building beyond just structural defects. Banks want to protect their investment as much as you.

Homeowners should also get a contents insurance policy, a separate type of home insurance which covers the contents of the structure. This means that your belongings are covered in case of fires, floods, accidental damage, or theft, even though this type is not required to secure a mortgage.              

Can you get a Professional Consultant’s Certificate instead of a Structural Warranty?

A CML Certificate, which is a Professional Consultants Certificate (PCC) accepted by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), is a cheaper option than a Structural Warranty. However, they aren’t the same thing, so you can’t really substitute one for the other. A PCC is more of a temporary first step.

The PCC only states that your property complies with Building Regulations upon completion. It holds the builders liable for structural issues for 6 years from the date on the certificate. The difference is that it’s your responsibility to take them to court and prove that were professionally negligent.

As you’re probably aware, such legal proceedings can be very time-consuming and expensive. If the builder goes out of business before you can take them to court, or you don’t win the case, you’ll have to cover the costs yourself. A Structural Warranty offers more reliable financial protection.

What’s the difference between a PCC and a Structural Warranty?

A PPC, or Professional Consultants’ Certificate, only certifies that your property adheres to Building Regulations and has been completed to the legal standard. It’s a cheaper option because it only lasts for 6 years and provides less cover than a Structural Warranty, which lasts for 10 years as standard.

Not only does it cover your property for longer than a PCC, but a Structural Warranty also holds the builder immediately responsible for defects in the first 2 years, then you can submit claims directly to the policy provider for the remaining 8 years. With a PCC, you’d have to go to court to prove their liability. It’s much more time-consuming and costly than being able to make a direct insurance claim.

It’s possible to have both policies at once, or to get a PCC initially and then upgrade to a Structural Warranty later, but premiums will be higher the longer you wait. If you’re making the smart decision to invest in a Structural Warranty, you should do this as early on as possible to get the best quote.

What’s the difference between a Collateral Warranty and Structural Warranty?

A Collateral Warranty isn’t the same as a Structural Warranty because the former is a sub-contract, whereas the latter is a contract itself. Collateral Warranties can last up to 12 years rather than 10 years, and require the other parties to have professional indemnity insurance for this duration.

The Collateral Warranty will extend the responsibilities of an original contract to cover another party or several other parties involved in the construction. This secondary contract might limit the number and type of claims you can make, and you’ll need to prove their negligence for any claim.

On the other hand, a Structural Building Warranty doesn’t require maintaining professional indemnity insurance or proving negligence or liability to succeed in a claim. These contracts shouldn’t have any limits on Structural Warranty claims, other than the relevant expiry dates.

Can you get a retrospective Structural Warranty?

Yes, in some cases it may be possible to apply for a Structural Warranty after the building is finished. Also referred to as a Completed House Warranty, the premiums are often higher, because we can only carry out one post-completion survey. When you set up a warranty earlier, this allows surveyors to inspect the build throughout the process, which minimises the risk of mistakes going unnoticed.

If your retrospective Structural Warranty application is accepted, the cover term will still begin from the date on the completion certificate, not the date of acceptance (unless these are the same day). This is because lenders will only accept Structural Warranties with the original terms and conditions, so we aren’t able to amend the contents of the policy or tailor it to your property’s circumstances.

This means that your property must meet all the standards set by our chartered surveyors, and pass the inspection satisfactorily in order to comply with the unabridged Structural Warranty terms. To keep the wording as prescribed by UK Finance, and allow you to use the warranty in a mortgage application, the contract stays exactly the same, as though you signed it at the start of construction.

We understand it’s not always possible to apply for a warranty before completion, but you should always aim to get a Structural Warranty as soon as you can. The earlier, the better, as you’ll get the best rates if we can oversee the build from the very start (usually involving around 6 inspections).

The longer you wait, the greater the risk, as some defects won’t be detectable if the progressing construction has made those areas inaccessible. A post-completion Structural Warranty will also come at a higher cost the later you leave it, and is likely to hinder loans and mortgage applications.

What’s the difference between a PCC and a Structural Warranty?

A PCC is a certificate of compliance which provides 6 years of cover on top of professional indemnity insurance. This is a guarantee that the construction meets all the necessary standards, and leaves the consultant who signs off on it liable if errors do become apparent within 6 years of completion.

However, the PCC does not guarantee financial compensation in the event that this happens. If you want the security of being able to make a direct insurance claim rather than going to court, you’ll need a 10 Year Structural Warranty. You can have both at once, since they do different things.

Many smaller builders and developers opt for the PCC because it’s cheaper, but if you’re applying after completion, it will be more expensive anyway. It’s up to you whether you want to invest in more protection with a Structural Warranty, as they aren’t compulsory – even if banks require them.

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