Choosing a company to build an extension or convert a loft can be a tricky business. The safest choice has to be one that gives a 10 year guarantee but what does a good guarantee cover, how do you claim against it, how good is the guarantee you hold and can you extend your guarantee beyond its expiry date?
Very few builders and loft conversion businesses will formally guarantee their work because they subcontract it or just haven’t got the substance, as a business, to be able to do so. Every job is the latest cash flow provider to get the business through to the next job and so on. When looking at the business that you want to build your dream loft or extension. Or the business that will convert the cost of the project directly into added value and more to your property value, you need to be discerning and considered before choosing your building partner. Many look at reviews and other’s comments but not least in your considerations, should be how long the business has been in operation and what guarantees they offer and how that guarantee would be backed if needed ( for example backed by the asset value of the business). Being a nice bloke and having a leased van and some tools probably isn’t going to provide the substance you might need anytime in the next 10 years if things go wrong.
How can you compare a good guarantee with a poor one?
Nobody can offer an open ended guarantee across all materials and workmanship involved in a project, so how explicit is the guarantee? Firstly is it part of the contract itself? If it is, does the guarantee list the items that are covered and for how long? For example, at A1 lofts and Extensions ( which is part of a bigger group, Rockwood London with well over £1m of assets), we offer a 10 year, 5 year, 2 year and 1 year guarantee, each is a section in the contract and the project components that are guaranteed for each period are listed so that there is no doubt what is covered and for how long. The shorter term guaranteed items are often the manufacturer’s guarantee period also but A1 back that themselves too and they list the manufacturer warranty period too for added comfort so that you know that the manufacturer is also prepared to back their quality standards with their assets. Your contract with A1/Rockwood is therefore for the period of the longest item which is usually the building and construction work which is inspected by our experts and so guaranteed for 10 years.
What is an insurance backed guarantee?
Some companies offer an insurance backed guarantee that lives on beyond the life of the building company if it were to fail, or just sits beside the operation of the company, effectively a ‘bought guarantee’. There is generally nothing wrong with a guarantee that is paid for from a legitimate insurance company via a legitimate business. Often companies can’t provide these because the insurance companies now insist on them being compliant to the latest standards for health and safety or building standards which they frequently fail. Also often and little known, is that in the ‘small print’ there is a ‘call-out charge’ or ‘excess’ that has to be paid by the customer each and every time there is a claim against the guarantee. This could be as much as £1000 for every claim and it usually pays for the insurance assessor or nominated expert to review your claim. There could therefore be significant hidden costs so check how the guarantee is set up and look at the small print.
How do you claim against your guarantee?
If as mentioned earlier, the guarantee is part of the explicit and formal contract then on completion you will also get a certificate to confirm your guarantee but it is not the certificate that secures your warranty it is the basic contract and therefore you simply identify the issue come to the business, secure confirmation that the component in question has failed to meet expectation and the guarantor is then liable to put it right. There will probably be some formal inspection and confirmation that the warranty hasn’t been voided by some form of misuse or that the item in question is the same serial number as the one guaranteed but thereafter the process is to get it fixed or replaced.
Can I extend my guarantee?
People don’t usually ask to extend their guarantee, perhaps because they haven’t thought of it but yes, often peace of mind could be to extend the guarantee which is usually done by establishing an insurance policy like the bought guarantees described earlier. We work with insurance specialists to provide a range of cover from accidents on site (which again often the less credible builders conveniently forget) to protect you and us from any claims, right through to specialist insurance for unusual or individual components of a project. You can either talk to your Design Consultant at the time of the build for a quote to extend the guarantee or later on contact our customer service team who’ll be delighted to find out on your behalf and discuss the options with you.
Hopefully you will agree, the guarantee is a vital distinction that sets extension and loft conversion companies apart. At A1 the name might seem well used and often copied now but hopefully, when considering the guarantee and the ethos and operations of our business, you can appreciate what we have been striving to achieve in all respects, A1!