Self-build insurance

Self-build home insurance covers the extra risks that regular home insurance won’t when you’re building your own home, renovating or converting a property. Find out more.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 7 March 2022  | 4 min read

What is self-build home insurance?

Self-build insurance is a specialist type of home insurance that protects you and the home you’re building during construction work.

Standard home insurance only covers risks that come with owning a property, it won’t cover the extra risks associated with self-build construction work.

Instead, self-build insurance provides more tailored cover. During your build, it protects you against damage to your building, tools and equipment, plus any financial losses after a theft.

You may also be protected for the cost of legal expenses and physical damage, plus employers’ and public liability cover.

What’s covered will vary between insurers. For example, you might be covered for poor or incomplete work, if unsuitable materials are used, or if weather and fire cause damage to your property.

Key points

  • Self-build insurance protects the items on your building site and the construction of your property
  • Standard home insurance policies won’t cover the risks of building a home or renovating
  • Your builders’ insurance will only protect their interests, so you’ll need to take out your own cover
  • Get insurance for non-standard construction if your home is built using unusual materials

How does self-build insurance work?

Self-build insurance works differently from normal home insurance by only providing cover while your home’s being built.

It specifically protects you against the risks that come with building a home - risks that most standard home insurance won’t cover you for.

You can take self-build insurance out from the moment you buy your plot and it’s designed to last up until the completion of your build.

Policies typically last up to 18 or 24 months to cover the entire building process, but shorter options are available.

However, if your building project is taking longer than expected you can ask your insurer to extend your cover. Some will even let you do this by a month at a time.

Where can I buy self-build insurance?

Most standard home insurance providers won’t cover you for the particular risks that come with building your own home.

Instead, there are plenty of specialist self-build insurers that can help. You can find these by searching online or asking your contractor if they can recommend a provider.

Do I need self-build insurance?

Building sites are risky places, which makes self-build insurance one of the most important things to consider when you’re planning a homebuilding project.

The moment you buy your plot you’re responsible for it - so if anyone injures themselves on your land, whether they’re supposed to be there or not, they can claim against you.

Expensive tools and materials being used on site means that there’s a greater risk of theft. And dangerous working environments like scaffolding and rooftops increase the risk of accidents.

Plus, while it’s being constructed, your new home may be more vulnerable to the elements and more likely to be damaged from events like fires, storms and flooding.

Having self-build insurance in place will protect you against risks like these and provide financial protection if something goes wrong.

When should I buy self-build insurance?

When you’re going to be tackling a major build or renovation project, you’ll need to contact your insurer before the work starts.

If your existing home insurer won’t cover the work, you’ll need to contact a specialist insurer.

Taking out insurance as soon as possible, particularly if you’ve bought a plot of land to build on, will make sure that you’re covered for liability before the work starts.

Will my builders have insurance to cover the build?

Your builders should have their own insurance policy and it’s good practice to check and see what it covers before they start work.

But be aware that your builders’ insurance will typically only protect their interests, so it’s unlikely to look after yours.

For example, it won’t give you any liability cover before the work starts or provide you with any protection when the builders aren’t on site.

Similarly, if you buy any materials or equipment yourself which get stolen or damaged, this won’t be covered on your builders’ policy.

Taking out self-build cover will make sure you’re protected.

Do I need self-build insurance if I'm just renovating my home?

Whether you’re planning to build an extension or do a loft conversion, you’ll need to let your insurer know and check whether they’ll still cover you.

Most standard home insurance policies won’t cover major renovations like these because of the increased risks involved.

Instead, you’ll need to take out specialist insurance like self-build cover, to make sure your home’s still protected while the work is taking place.

What does self-build insurance cover?

If you’re building your own house, you’ll need self-build insurance to cover you, your builders, and your building work during construction.

Self-build insurance policies can cover:

  • Damage to the property and the surrounding building site due to flooding, bad weather or fire
  • On-site theft of tools or equipment
  • Public liability insurance
  • Employers’ liability insurance
  • Contract works cover - protects your self-build until construction is complete
  • Completion of the work to a high standard
  • Legal expenses
  • Non-negligence cover (also known as Joint Contracts Tribunal Clause 21.2.1 Insurance) - protects you against damage to surrounding properties as a result of your building work

Make sure you read the small print of your policy to check it covers everything you need it to.

Without the right cover, it’s not just damage to your plot and part-finished home you’ll need to worry about - you could face legal action if someone on-site suffers injuries or losses.

What’s not covered by self-build insurance?

You should always read your policy documents to check what’s included and excluded before you start building.

Self-build policies typically won’t cover you for:

  • Using biological or chemical materials
  • Damage that exists before the policy is taken out
  • Deliberate damage caused by you, a family member, or your contractor
  • Wear and tear
  • Vermin and insects
  • Mechanical or electrical failure

How much does self-build insurance cost?

This will depend on your project, what you’re constructing and where it’s located - factors like the materials you’re using, and the risks involved will all affect the cost.

The options you choose and what is included in your cover will also influence the price.

Most self-build insurance providers will charge a single premium that’s based on the length of your project.

But prices will vary, so it’s always best to shop around and compare quotes.

How to protect yourself during a self-build project

Building your own home is an exciting time but it can also be a daunting one. So making sure you’re well protected can help things go smoothly and provide some security.

Steps to help you reduce the risks include:

Buying a warranty

If you buy a structural home warranty, it’ll pay out if you find a serious defect with your home.

But only for the first decade that your home is standing.

It’ll also include the cost of chasing any of your contractors for negligence if the work on your home was poorly done.

You won’t have a developer to check things with as you would with a mass-produced new-build home, so make sure you chase any issues with your new home when they come up.

Taking out the right cover for unique self-builds

If you’re using glass, straw or another unusual material to create your home, you’ll need a policy that covers non-standard construction.

Reducing risk from the start

Get the right insurance in place to make sure you’re covered if a contractor or member of the public claims against you.

Michael Holmes, property expert for The London Homebuilding and Renovating Show, says, “You can reduce the chance of any claim by properly fencing and securing the site, and making sure health and safety signage is in place.

“Scaffolding should be inspected to ensure compliance, and harnesses should be worn when working at height.

“Health and safety is the responsibility of the principal designer or lead contractor, but as the property owner, you must still do all you can to comply with the law.

“In terms of managing risk on a warranty, it’s useful to have additional checks made by a competent person in between the standard inspections made by the warranty provider.”

Keeping risks down with insurance, a warranty and good safety practices on site will protect you financially.

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