30 Jun 2017

Building warranties for barn conversions

If you are a self-builder about to undertake a project involving the conversion of a barn, you need to consider the cost of and difficulty in obtaining a building warranty (Latent Defect Insurance), says Rosita Mendonca from BuildSafe – a leading building warranty insurance provider.

There have been a lot of changes in the insurance market regarding the risk assessment for this type of project, most of the major insurers have recently decided either to increase the premium, or not offer cover for barns conversions.

As an example of their reluctance to insure barns, one of the providers will not insure a barn if livestock has kept within it in recent years.

However, it’s not all bad news; out of the big six insurers, two will still offer cover – but they need to collate a large amount of information from you and it can take weeks to just get an indication of cost.

Effective alternatives to a warranty

An effective alternative could be a Professional Consultant’s Certificate. Most high-street banks will lend where the property is covered by a Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) Professional Consultant’s Certificate (PCC). These certificates are limited by the Professional Indemnity Cover of the consultants concerned. You need to make sure that the level of cover is equal to the build cost for the development. For instance, if the PCC is £3m, then that will cover a claim against a unit up to that amount – which will cover most build costs for barns. However, for the majority of consultants (such as architects offering an Architect’s Certificate), their cover is only £1m.

In order to ensure the best price for a warranty or PCC on a barn conversion, make sure that you take the policy out before you start any work on the conversion, and make sure you have, at the very least, the list of information below:

A detailed site plan – showing the site as a whole and its location as well as levels if it is on a slope

Photographic evidence – colour photos, both external and internal, showing all sides of the building, outbuilding, garages and any unusual features

Structural report – please provide a detailed report (not just a condition survey) from a suitably qualified professional (building surveyor or structural engineer), detailing the condition of the structure and its suitability for conversion

Detailed plans – we will require a full set of plans and specification of works to be undertaken in respect of:

Waterproof envelope – (existing materials and those proposed to be used) detail of proposed tanking, damp-proof membrane and damp-proof course
Ground investigation report – (including soil strength tests and contamination tests).

Further information....

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