Compared to insuring a completed house, the various aspects of insuring a building plot, a static caravan and a house which is under construction are rather more complex. Most people are familiar with the distinction between Buildings Insurance and Contents Insurance, even if they are bought together from the same insurer, but once you start looking into the insurance you might need for a major renovation or new-build you realise that standard Buildings Insurance is itself a package of different types of cover – and then you need extra cover because of the structural nature of the works being performed,
It can be tempting to think that your building contractor’s insurance will cover you, and while they will certainly take on liability for particular types of claim their insurance will almost certainly not cover everything. The worst-case scenario is probably if the nearly-completed house has a fire which means it needs to be knocked-down and re-built – will the contractor’s insurance cover that?
From the minute you take ownership of a plot of land you run the risk of being sued because someone injures themselves on your land and claims it was your fault. That applies even if someone is trespassing, especially when the trespassers might be children who are less likely than adults to understand the risks from derelict structures and suchlike. You can cover such risks with Public Liability insurance which is included in normal Buildings Insurance and in Site Insurance (see below) but is also available by itself. In my case, since the old outbuildings were in a poor state of repair and since there was evidence of some trespassing on the site I took out a Public Liability policy through Versatile Insurance to cover the building plot before I started any building work. That was relatively cheap – of the order of £100 per year.
My next challenge was insuring the static caravan and its contents. The mainstream Buildings Insurance providers won’t even think about insuring anything that isn’t bricks and mortar so you need to deal with the more specialised insurers. Most of the static caravans and mobile homes in the country are situated on holiday caravan sites or dedicated mobile home parks, and so most of the insurance policies are based on such arrangements. If you’re installing a static caravan on a random building plot and on a temporary basis then – in my experience – it’s difficult to find anyone who will cover you. The best option I found was Mobile Homes Insurance Service with an annual premium of the order of £350 covering the caravan structure and contents but not including Public Liability for the wider site (so that needs to be covered separately). In order for this insurance to cover the risk of the caravan being blown over in a storm it needs to be securely tethered to a concrete slab.
Now the build is about to start I need some “proper” self-build site insurance – plus it’s a condition of my mortgage that I have a policy which names the mortgage lender as an interested party. In my experience this sort of insurance was easier to arrange than the separate Public Liability and Static Caravan cover since every self-build project will need something similar and the self-build magazines and shows provide plenty of information about several suppliers. All the policies I looked at could include cover for public liability and for site huts and other temporary buildings (including static caravans). The downside of this sort of all-in self-build insurance is it’s a lot more expensive than other types of insurance, because of the nature of the risks involved while the build is underway and because of the relatively high value of the finished property, so it’s best to limit the time for which this insurance needs to be effective. I chose a policy from Self Build Zone which runs for 12 months. Longer periods of cover are available but they’re more expensive on a pro rata basis.