What is a building warranty? Why do you need one and where do you get it?

Cracked Wall



A structural or building warranty is technically 'structural defects liability insurance'.

Warranty providers' carry out an inspection process as the build progresses and, on completion, a 10-year warranty is provided covering major defects in design, materials or workmanship.

The series of inspections often resembles those undertaken for building regulation approval. Unlike building regulation approval, a building warranty is not a statutory requirement.

"Why then", you might be thinking, "do I need one?"

Most banks and building societies require a structural warranty before they will lend against a newly built property. The design workmanship and material aspects that it covers are not usually included in standard buildings insurance and the mortgage lenders want to manage their risk.

If you need a mortgage to complete your build or have any plans to sell it to someone who might need one to buy it, then you need a structural warranty.

It does offer an extra layer of insurance for you and the peace of mind that another experienced set of eyes has checked the integrity of your build.

Building Warranty Providers

There are a number of companies who offer building warranties for new build houses. In recent years the rise in the popularity of self build has seen more products specifically designed for it.

NHBC Solo for Self Build

The NHBC is the big boy of warranty and insurance providers. It is the market leader, established in 1936 and now providing warranty cover for around 80% of all new homes build in the UK.

Build Zone 10 Year Structural Warranty

Build Zone is a trading arm of Sennocke International Insurance Services Limited. They have embraced the market and offer a range of services under the Self Build Zone trading name. As well as their 10 year structural warranty they offer site insurance and building control services.

LABC New Home Warranty

A partner of Local Authority Building Control, who we discussed on our building regulations page, now offer a building warranty scheme backed up by MD Insurance Services ltd.

All these warranty providers offer a building control service alongside their warranty schemes at an extra cost.

Architect's Certificate

It is worth mentioning that there is an alternative to the building warranty - The Architects Certificate - Your architect can inspect the work as it progress and issue a certificate on completion.

Insurance is provided via the architect's indemnity insurance. If a defect occurred you would have to sue your architect and prove negligence in order to obtain a payment. This option is not popular with builders or architects alike.

The Process

Structural warranty schemes tend to follow a similar pattern:

  • The applicant submits plans, specification, completed application form and an application payment to the provider.
  • The provider will calculate a quote for the policy. The fee is calculated based on the individual property but is mainly linked to floor area.
  • An inspector will visit the applicant for an appraisal meeting.
  • The applicant signs and returns an acceptance letter.
  • The warranty provider will supply a technical manual, other policy documents and a site folder to log progress and inspection results.
  • The build begins and site inspections are requested at designated stages (add these to your programme) to check compliance with the warranty standards. It is worth noting that often the technical standards required by the warranty provider are higher than those required by building control.
  • When the build is complete and all stage certificates and a completion certificate have been issued the 10 year structural defects cover begins.

Have a look at the building warranty schemes available, check the cover (including the small print) and contact them for quotations.




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