In my ten years of experience designing and self building projects, the first thing I do before turning a sod is make sure I have adequate insurance policies and cover in place.
Most self-builders prefer to work in ignorance assuming there home insurance covers their works and no contractor / subcontractor / labour will have an accident and make a claim. Ignorance is no excuse and will not protect you in court, so seek the appropriate policies and cover to keep your mind at ease.
I have outlined below some key details and information you might need when starting your self-build project. Stay tuned for my next blog, where I will explain how I have made and installed a homemade wood burning stove.
Why do you need Insurance?
Construction is a dangerous activity and even with the safest site accidents happen, check your subcontractors have appropriate cover in place for the duration of the project, if you are employing a site labour provide your own employers liability to cover him.
Even if your subcontractors have Public Liability and Employers Liability Insurance you as main contractor and as the main coordinator of the subcontractors must provide your own policy and cover. They are only responsible for their own negligence and not the negligence by another subcontractor coordinated by you the main contractor that leads to an accident.
Will my home insurance not cover site works?
Before you start check that your Home insurance covers the works as it normally only covers for small DIY works. If you proceed without insurance and there is an event, for example a fire on site that damages or destroys your building or materials on site and your neighbouring building, you may not be covered.
What Insurance Policies do you need?
All projects require the following minimum insurance provisions. Other projects with specific risks may also require other specific policies.
- Building All Risks Policy: Provides for an insurance policy specially designed for builders and a number of other trades working at a contract site.
- Public Liability policy: Provides covers for claims relating to a third party who feels that they have suffered injury or loss as a result of the policyholders’ negligence.
- Employer’s Liability policy: Provides cover if any of your employees suffer physical injury or death, and it is proven that as an employer you acted negligently and subsequently could have prevented their loss.
Why should I seek Professional Indemnity Cover?
Where you are undertaking a project you will require from Designers / Consultants / Specialist Subcontractor Designers appropriate Professional Indemnity Insurance. This insures that if a processional gives you incorrect advice that leads to a material or financial loss you can pursue them for negligence to cover your losses. In addition Funding Institutions require Registered Architects to furnish adequate Professional Indemnity Cover to Certify Works for Mortgage Stage Payments.
What Insurance Cover and duration do I need?
These policies should be held for duration and to an appropriate level of coverage. If a contractor is undertaking the work it is important to insure that they furnish the appropriate documents and to check renewal dates, and covered amount. It is up to you to insure continued cover.
Who is responsible for the Insurance Policies?
In most cases a client will engage a Main Building Contractor to undertake the construction of a project. The builder will provide the adequate insurance provision and policies to the client before taking possession of the site.
When you undertake a Self-Build project you as the client become the principle Main Contractor. It is vitally important those before you commence works or invite contractors / sub-contractors / labours / suppliers on to your property and site that you attain the appropriate policies and cover.
Don’t forget to consult with Funding Bodies!
For most of us we are merely renting for a period time from our financial institution. Weather you like it or not they are part owners, you must comply with Planning and Building Control Regulations otherwise you may void your policy and be personally liable for errors made. Inform, advise and seek approval from the banking institution prior to commencing with works.
How do Insurance Claim Procedures work?
Accidents will happen, and will inevitably lead to deep worry and stress. Whatever the instance you will be in shock to some degree. It is important to all that you remain calm, focused and make well-judged decisions. Take time out and consider carefully what you say.
Insurance Claim Do’s and Don’ts
The purpose of insurance is to protect you, your property and those that you employee in the event of an accident. Assuming you have fulfilled your statutory obligations and put in place and maintained safety systems the process will be straightforward.
- If an accident has occurred, make no admission liability or offer of promise; leave that to your insurance company to sort out. Give immediate notice in writing to your insurance company outlining the time of occurrence, the event and people involved.
- Insurance companies often stipulate that events must be reported within a given time say 7 days so do not leave it on the long finger to report it. Carry out no alteration or repair until the insurance company has undertaken an inspection.
- If materials have been stolen or vandalised, report the incident to the Police. Don’t wait around the process is straightforward. Seek cost estimates for repair or replacement to property; it will speed up your claim process if you have these to hand.
Self build Insurance Companies
The contacts outlined below are for information purposes only and do not come with recommendations.
Stay tuned for my next blog, where I will explain how I have made and installed a homemade wood burning stove.