Now we all know the huffing and puffing of the big bad Wolf failed to bring down the three little pigs brick house…..but be warned, builders can unintentionally succeed where the Wolf failed.
So for anyone planning to have any building work done at home it is essential your home buildings and contents insurers are informed…..just in case.
The increased risks associated with building work will be a risk too far for some home insurers who point blank refuse to offer any cover. That does not mean all insurers adopt the same attitude, so we would urge people not to give up at this stage. Possibly the most valuable asset a person may own in their lifetime could be in considerable danger.
There are plenty of insurers who will happily continue on cover, although some may introduce restrictions and this may depend on the type and extent of the work. For instance they may only cover damage caused by certain perils such as fire, or they may not want to cover contents if the home is to be left vacant at any time. We recommend homeowners obtain the widest cover available. The cost of any extra insurance should always be weighed against the value of the Property at risk. Who can afford to risk losing their prized property asset.
It is essential home owners make a full disclosure of home improvement plans in writing and get confirmation of insurers terms and conditions in writing before any work begins.
The Contract Works, Goods and Materials
This still leaves the homeowner to decide who covers the Building ‘Works’ during the construction process including goods or building materials on site waiting to be fitted or applied. It is unlikely a home insurance policy will automatically cover building ‘Works’ under construction until completed and handed back to the homeowner. The options are a) leave it to the Builder to insure the Contract Works or b) insure yourself. By far the most secure is the latter but it can come at a cost.
Removing or Weakening Supporting Structures
Another point to mention is the ramifications of removing or weakening supporting walls or structures. Chimneys, basements, external and internal load bearing walls, doors and windows are all things that can lead to the collapse of your home into a heap of rubble. If you share party walls and roofs with neighbours they may unwittingly be forced to join the rubble party. The Party Wall Act may come onto play requiring you to consult with neighbours and have the resources or insurance protection to repair any external and internal damage or replace contents.
It is of course no laughing matter as some unfortunate and ill-advised people have found. Homes and extensions can be left in ruins.
Some unfortunate people have been left with no home and no insurance to pay for it to be rebuilt. Worse still neighbouring properties have been damaged with no insurance to meet legal bills. We are urging others not to risk joining this group.
It is not safe to rely on your builders ‘Contractors All Risks’ insurances without having them checked by an expert. There are way too many potential holes in their insurance arrangements of which the builders themselves may be unaware. Remember they are builders, not insurance experts.
Hired in Plant
Hired in Plant can also be an issue. The Hirer (whoever’s name is on the hiring agreement) can not only be responsible to insure the Plant but can also be liable for continuing hiring fees until the Plant is repaired or replaced. Increasingly homeowners are being asked to carry this risk by hiring equipment, sometimes with machine operators directly.
Legal Liability for Injury – Public and Employers Liability
Finally if anyone is injured on site you as the Property Owner may be blamed. Adequate Public and Employers Liability insurance is essential protecting you as the Property or Land owner as well as each and every contractor or visitor to the site. Usually this is catered for within Contractors Liability insurance cover, but again if this is not in force or has not been arranged correctly the homeowner is at risk as well as the Contractor.
The Alan Stevenson Partnership has extensive knowledge of the pit falls and the best types of insurers and insurance products to deal with all aspects of building works.