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Historic Properties

Historic Properties

Getting started on improvements, extensions and repairs .....and avoiding hot spots!

When you decide to improve, extend or carry out repairs to a listed building you will need the assistance of professionals. The parties involved in your building works will usually be co-ordinated by an architect or a surveyor who will act as an overseer of works carried out. They will find trusted contractors and craftsmen to work on the project. The choice of contractor is important because specialist materials and skills may be required to achieve a proper repair and a poor job could affect the market value of your property – a point most people overlook.

If the work is part of an insurance claim you have made, most non-specialist insurers will insist you use a building contract for their own panel but if you go to an insurance company who deal extensively in older properties you will be allowed to use a craftsman most suited to the work required. This is an important aspect to bear in mind when you choose your insurer in the first place.

The main contractor has a responsibility to ensure no damage is caused to the property and must maintain adequate public liability insurance. The indemnity limit should reflect the maximum potential loss and any sub-contractor must carry the same indemnity limit and their insurance details must be verified before they start work.

The architect/surveyor will generally use the 'JCT Minor works 6.3b' contract conditions to form the basis of the contract between you and the builder. This usually places the onus on you as the employer to insure against material damage to the project – which is why you must brief your insurance company fully before work begins. Make sure your insurance advice is the best available as they need to understand the contract conditions.

In simple terms, responsibility falls into the following categories:

Risk Responsibility
Existing property Owner
Works in progress Owner
Negligent damage Contractor's public liability insurance

One of the most common claims that insurers see when work is being undertaken on older properties are caused by blow torches and welding equipment when smouldering turns into an all-out blaze! All reputable contractors should have a 'hot works' permit which requires them to monitor (for at least an hour) areas that have been worked on. You must check that the contractor (and any sub-contractor) does not have a heat exclusion in their liability policy because if they have, this may affect your insurer's recovery rights.

If the building being worked on is in close proximity to other people's property, you should think about extending the contractor's liability insurance to cover non-negligent damage that may be caused during the works. Better to be safe and keep your neighbours as friends: you don't want a smouldering situation to burst into flames!

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 5th September, 2010