House extension   UK
 Home extension guide - how to build a house extension and refurbish your home


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Has Your Main Contractor or Builder obtained The required Insurance Cover?

This can be a fairly expensive item for a main builder or contractor and each has a level of cover that they can subscribe to. Therefore it can be tempting for a main contractor to forget or not pay for the cover required that could leave the home owner exposed to all sorts of costs and dangers.

Therefore the homeowner should request a copy of the builders insurances before they start on site and check that they are current and in date.

Here is a schedule of the main types of main contractors insurance available to them.

Employers' liability. A significant area of concern for any main contractor should be their subcontractors' insurance provision. If the subcontractors are labour-only, and do not carry their own insurance, then it is highly probable that the main contractor's insurance will operate: you effectively become their employer and need employers' liability cover. Where bona fide subcontractors (providing both labour and materials and carrying their own insurance) are engaged, make sure that all relevant liability covers are in place, and also that there are no onerous policy conditions such as 'application of heat' warranties that are likely to negate the subcontractors' cover if they cause a loss through negligence.

Public liability. For working on existing buildings the period prior to the works or renovations is a concern for many insurers. Poor lighting (if any), water ingress, rotten timbers, and falling masonry are all areas for potential claims against the owner or contractor by anyone on the site, invited or not. This could range from building inspectors to vandals. As your common-law liability to each remains the same, it's as well to remember that you can't contract out of personal injury or death. The contractor's liability for safety on site starts on day one of the contract, so be prepared to shore up and restrict site access first before starting work.

CAR (Contractors All Risks) cover. This is insurance for the works in progress and acts to fill the gap between the cover for the property as it was and as it will become. Make sure that the sum insured is adequate for the contract as most CAR policies carry an inner limit for project costs. In practice this means that the figure should exceed the value of the contract. Although it's arguable that demolition costs could be excluded from this, the savings gained by attempting to strip this out are minimal. Be aware, too, that the costs involved in restoration following a loss may well be unusually high, and that the initial projected costs can and often do overrun. Leave yourself 25 per cent over and above your largest contract.

Hired-in plant cover. Under Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) conditions you are required to insure for the replacement value of the plant and equipment that you are hiring. You will also be liable for any continuing hire charges that accrue whilst plant is being repaired or replaced. Make sure that only correctly trained staff use hired-in plant as the HSE is becoming increasingly intolerant of accidents involving operator error where inadequate training is a factor.


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