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New Build Warranties

What is a NHBC OR Zurich Building Warranty
A building warranty is essentially a form of insurance policy paid for by the builder that is aimed at protecting the purchaser and their successors in title for a period of ten years against latent defects with their homes.

The builder covers the costs of the first two years, and provides cover for every defect within the home during that time. In years 3 -10 the insurance company covers only structural defects.

This means that purchasers have only 2 years to identify, report, and have corrected any defects in their home.


Who provides warranties?
The leading UK warranty provider, set up by government in 1965, with a non profit making mandate with a view to being the standard setting body and leading warranty provider for new and newly converted homes in the UK. The NHBC claims to have around 85% of new homes in the UK registered with them. Builders who register with them have to abide by a strict set of rules and build to the standards that the NHBC lay down. NHBC provides buyers with a 10 year 'Buildmark' warranty and insurance protection. The NHBC inspectors visit new homes at key stages of construction and in some areas also offer building control services.

Zurich Municipal is one of the worlds leading insurance brokers. At this moment in time they are the only private sector alternative to the NHBC. Their service is comparable to that of the NHBC in that they provide a 10 year warranty and produce a set of standards by which the registered developer has to abide.

Until 2004 there have been only two providers of Housing Warranties in the UK and so Developers, House Builders and the Home Owner had little in the way of choice.


What are the pitfalls of building warranties
The problem with these types of policy is that they cannot be seen to be unbiased as it's the builder who is registered and pays the fees for inspection. The warranty providers do not make details of the warranty available to the purchaser until legal completion, when a pack of documents is handed to the buyer by their solicitor. Only if the purchaser wrestles with the small print and reads it through, will they know their rights. Neither Zurich nor the NHBC publish information as to the performance of builders in the UK . But brickkickers have managed to get hold of it (see links page)

Most purchasers are unaware of some of the conditions and the procedures that must be adhered to in order to make a successful claim.

Most purchasers do not know there is a minimum claim value because the warranty companies do not issue a set of standards; most purchasers don't even know they have a problem in some instances

Because of the shortage of inspectors, the supposedly good builders often are left to get on with things, not getting inspections at some of the key stage inspections. Inspectors take the view that they are familiar with the builders work and because the last one was OK then so will the next .


I have an Architects certificate . what does that mean?
Well. First of all you need some special advice because you have less rights and protection than those with NHBC or Zurich warranties. Architects sign and issue a number of certificates for different purposes these should not be confused.

Should you purchase a house from a self builder with a Architects certificate, the certificate is only there to assure the bank or building society that the building was checked at certain points during its construction. You may be able to claim against the architects liability insurance for any structural problems , however any issues over quality leaves the purchaser with no-where to seek redress.
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