Thinking about renovating or extending an older property? Planning on converting an existing building for residential use? Whichever structural alterations you have in mind, it’s likely that your project would benefit from a building warranty.
Property conversions tend to be major undertakings, especially if the existing structure is in poor condition and needs a lot of work. If your restoration or refurbishment efforts affect the building’s structural integrity, then it’s important to have latent defects insurance to protect your investment against faulty construction or design work.
This blog explains why you should get a structural warranty for your conversion, when you should apply, and how you can find the best policy for your project.
Why would you need a building warranty for a conversion?
As any developer or property investor will know, structural defects are often costly to fix. Nobody wants to invest in, purchase, or lease a renovated building just for structural faults to develop down the line. Having the right financial cover in place not only protects you, but also makes the property more attractive for future developers, buyers, and sellers.
Building warranties can be tailored to cover specific circumstances like conversions, extending your financial protection alongside your site insurance and liability cover. Part of the warranty involves several structural inspections and assessments of the building plans as well as the actual structure, which can help you catch and correct any issues early on.
A standard building warranty usually provides 10 years of cover from the date that construction work is officially completed. This includes 2 years of developer/builder liability, then 8 years during which the warranty provider is responsible for resolving structural defect claims. However, bear in mind that the new Building Safety Act will extend structural warranties to a minimum of 15 years.
When should you get a structural warranty for a conversion?
For any residential construction project, it’s best to set up an appropriate building warranty from the very start. This allows the warranty provider to carry out thorough inspections throughout the process, minimising the risks of undetected structural faults. Since these policies are transferable, the builder/developer can take out the warranty initially then transfer it to the eventual buyer.
Many people will also find that financial lenders will only release funding if there are guarantees that their investment is protected. So, you might find it difficult to buy or sell a completed conversion if you don’t have the reassurance of a structural warranty and the professional assessments it entails.
It’s sometimes possible to get a warranty partway through the process, or even after completion. However, this is rare, and it’s likely to be far more expensive due to the increased risks from reduced inspections. Wherever possible, you should purchase a building warranty before construction begins – at the same time as applying for planning permission and building regulation approval (if needed).
If you aren’t making drastic changes to the core structure, and the building remains structurally sound – with confirmation from an expert, such as a structural engineer – then it may not be necessary to get a warranty. It’s still a good idea, though, as you can’t put a price on peace of mind.
How can you get a conversion building warranty?
The easiest way to secure a structural warranty for your project is to look for a provider who offers the specific type of policy you need – such as a barn conversion warranty. A standard new build warranty might not apply, as the cover and cost can vary on a case-by-case basis for conversions. It often depends on the extent of the structural renovations and the building’s current condition.
Since every conversion project is unique, you should expect building warranty providers to tailor their approach to suit your specifications. Once you’ve shopped around for building warranty quotes, you can choose the best deal for your individual needs. Be sure to check the fine print of each policy for the exact terms, rather than basing your final decision on the cheapest price!