Are your timescales realistic?

One question we ask as part of the quotation process is “How long do you expect your build to take”? This is often met with laughter or “I’ve no idea” but it is an important question and one worth putting thought into before undertaking the project as it has implications for your insurance.

We understand with the years of experience we have on the subject of selfbuild that projects can be delayed for a number of reasons. However it is worth bearing in mind that an insurer will not allow an insurance policy to continue forever. This isn’t specific to ourselves as all insurers will put a limit on the period of cover.

Our policy for example carries a 60 day cessation of works condition:

If, for whatever reason, construction work at the contract site is suspended or stopped, you must notify us within 60 days of the suspension or stoppage. We may take one of the following actions;

(i) modify your premium

(ii) amend the terms and conditions of the cover

(iii) require you to make alterations to the contract site and/or the works

(iv) exercise our right to cancel your policy

If, in the event of any claim for damage, you have failed to advise us that construction work at the contract site has been suspended or stopped, and the suspension or stoppage has been in excess of 60 days, your insurers may not pay your claim.

It is often asked of us what the problem is with covering a long term build. It is a common misconception that the risk reduces as the build goes on – this is not the case, the risk just changes. At the outset the biggest risk is the liability aspect as there is little in the way of materials on site. As the build progresses and materials start to arrive risks such as theft become an issue. Once the shell starts to go up, but before it becomes watertight, the property becomes susceptible to storm damage, and once the shell is complete there is the potential for escape of water and fire damage. At this later stage sum insured is higher leaving the insurer open to a potentially larger claim.

Often the reasons for these delays are overlooked.

Finance can create long delays. It is important to be upfront with your insurer with how your build is going to be financed. If you are intending to sell your current home to finance your build, do you have a contingency plan should it not sell? Building in these tough financial times is never going to be easy and neither is selling a property, so this could delay the build long term. If finance is required, jumping through the many hoops required is certainly going to take time. It is worth putting those steps in place before you’re going to need it. Similarly planning can delay a build by a significant amount.

There is no doubt the UK weather has the biggest impact on our customers, with low temperatures and snow in the early parts of 2012 and 2013 and the storms/flooding we have experienced in January and February of this year delaying builds by months. Wet weather may mean you can’t pour your concrete foundations for months, or cold weather may delay you rendering the property. Delays caused by weather may mean your site is cut off for long periods of time or you may lose the contractors working on your build to another job because of their inability to work.

We do understand however that through circumstance builds cannot always be completed within the initial period and we will endeavour to provide a further term wherever possible.

If you are undertaking a new build or renovation work please contact us on 01302 346831 or visit our website for further information.


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