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What’s Actually Covered in Your New Home Warranty?

When buying a newly constructed home in the UK, new build developers typically provide a warranty that protects against certain defects for the first two years after legal completion. However, the exact coverage can vary between house builders. This article explains what homeowners can expect their new home warranty to cover, as well as where there may be gaps.

Builder Warranties in the New Home Construction Sector

In short, a new build warranty provides a safety net in case serious defects arise shortly after moving in. All house builders registered with warranty providers like the National House Building Council (NHBC) must adhere to their standards. Additionally, reputable developers often go beyond these base protections. Nonetheless, new homeowners may still encounter unexpected exclusions, limitations or processes.

Coverage Duration

The majority of major developers now offer at least a two-year new build warranty as standard. Many extend this to five or even ten years for elements like drains, gutters and major structural issues. Homebuyers should clarify durations upfront, as policies can lapse over time. Shorter 12-month warranties may apply to parts or furnishings.

Defects and Damage

When it comes to defects, new home warranties typically cover building elements that do not meet the UK’s Building Regulations or the warranty provider’s own technical requirements. This includes matters impacting health and safety. Additionally, warranties usually address physical damage that occurs during the construction process. Some may also cover pre-existing site conditions.

Wear and Tear Exclusions

Standard warranties do not, however, protect against normal wear and tear or matters like minor cracking. There are often exclusions for aesthetic blemishes like chipped tiles unless these indicate an underlying defect. Additionally, policies reference ‘tolerances’, establishing thresholds for when imperfections become reportable. Understanding these helps homeowners determine if issues may be covered.

Making Successful Claims

To claim under their warranty, the homeowner must usually submit written notification of any defects within a set timeframe, including evidence like photos. The house builder or warranty provider then sends an inspector before determining the next steps. If they confirm a valid defect, the developer arranges and pays for repairs by approved contractors.

Getting Issues Resolved

That said, the claims process does not always go smoothly. Builders may push back on certain complaints, denying breaches of standards. Additionally, some use contractors who perform subpar corrective work. Persistence and escalation through management tiers or third-parties like NHBC can help homeowners achieve satisfactory outcomes. But disputes can take months.

Hidden Exclusions

Beyond openly stated exclusions like wear and tear, new build warranties also often contain limitations that surprise homeowners. For example, many policies only cover issues that impact a building’s physical stability or weatherproofing. Problems like a defective boiler may not qualify. Homeowners should read the fine print carefully.

Pre-Existing and Third-Party Elements

Additionally, warranties tend not to address flaws in parts like radiators, appliances or fittings installed by manufacturers. They also exclude pre-purchase elements like turf, trees and boundary walls. These come under separate supplier guarantees but tracing responsibilities still proves difficult when problems arise.

Getting Additional Protection

Given the potential gaps described above, owners may benefit from taking out special new home insurance policies. These can provide extra coverage around matters excluded in the builder’s warranty. However, additional protection comes at an added cost, of course. But the peace of mind may justify the spend for some.

Understanding the Warranty Provider’s Complaints Process

If homeowners feel their builder has wrongly refused a claim or failed to adequately resolve a verified defect, they can pursue formal complaints. Most warranty providers like NHBC have a defined resolution process. This usually involves escalation across multiple review stages with opportunities for homeowners to submit evidence supporting their position. Understanding and appropriately navigating this framework helps secure the required end result.

Extending Cover with Home Building Plans Insurance

In addition to one-off new home policies, buyers can get ongoing protection through special Home Building Plans Insurance. As well as covering a broad range of warranty exclusions, these flexible plans allow customers to adjust coverage as needed over time as priorities shift. Factors like expanding family home improvements and changing likelihoods of particular issues arising mean policy requirements change. Adjustable building plans insurance caters for this.

Know Your Rights Under Consumer Protection Laws

Homeowners should also familiarise themselves with their rights under consumer laws. Even where warranty exclusions apply, legal doctrine around expectations of ‘satisfactory quality’ offers backup protections if builders refuse to address serious defects impacting liveability. While the claims process under consumer regulations can also prove lengthy, persisting can pay off. Of course, prevention is better – so homebuyers should undertake thorough pre-purchase surveys.

New build home warranties undoubtedly provide vital protections for buyers or new construction properties. But as highlighted here, they do not constitute an absolute guarantee against all eventualities. To make sure their purchase has comprehensive cover, homeowners should inspect policies closely and consider supplementing with specialised insurance.