This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to new build loft boarding. That’s why we have created this series of posts, telling you everything you need to know about loft boarding and your NHBC warranty & standards, Building Regulations (part 2) and The BBA and LoftZone (part 3).
Read on to find out what you need to know to protect your warranty when installing loft boarding in your new build home!
We’ve all been there…
So, you’ve got the keys to your new build home and it’s time to start moving your things. Slowly but steadily, your storage space starts to fill up. But before you have to put your future garage gym/study/man cave/Swedish sauna on hold – temporarily, of course! – you look up.
“What about flooring the loft?” you innocently ask the salesman, gazing at the 900sqft of beautiful, open space. He rolls his eyes and tells you that using your loft for anything at all apart from fresh air will absolutely, definitely, completely invalidate your 10-year warranty. “Don’t go up there, don’t even look at it. I’m not sure why we even gave you an access hatch…”
This, we’re afraid, is nonsense. Of course, you can board your loft for storage. In fact, if you have maintainable equipment in your loft, building regulations actually require you to add loft boarding to your new build home for safe access.
That’s why we have decided to dig a little deeper and share everything you need to know about new build loft boarding and how you can protect your warranty.
In this series of blog posts, we’re looking at the following key items:
What does my NHBC Buildmark Warranty do?
The NHBC (National House-Building Council) is by far the leading provider of home building warranty and insurance cover in the UK. In fact, they provide cover for over 80% of new homes in the UK with their ‘Buildmark’ cover.
Buildmark is a legal agreement between you, the NHBC and your builder. It provides protection for your deposit from the exchange of contracts through to the completion of the build. After that, it provides a warranty for you on the building work for 10 years.
For the first two of those years, it is the builder’s responsibility to fix any problems which are covered by your warranty. This is often called ‘snagging’ and is common with any building project.
After two years and up to 10 years, Buildmark provides you with insurance to cover damage to your home due to failure by the builder to build your home to NHBC requirements.
Why is this important? Because apart from detailing what they will cover you for, the policy also details what exclusions they will not cover you for. ‘General Conditions and Exclusions,’ includes an example:
“13. Damp, condensation, shrinkage, thermal movement (expansion and contraction as a result of temperature changes) and movement between different types of materials that is not a result of the builder failing to meet the NHBC requirements.”
Find your NHBC Buildmark policy document.
So, what does that mean for your new build loft boarding?
NHBC Standards & New Build Loft Flooring
The NHBC requirements your builder has to follow are defined in the NHBC Standards.
The current 2022 document applies to every new home registered with NHBC where foundations were begun on or after 1 January 2022. The 2021 standards apply to new builds where foundations have begun on or after 1 January 2021 and so on.
Let’s have a look at what it says about new build loft boarding:
Section 7.2 – Pitched Roofs
The chapter which is most relevant for loft flooring is Chapter 7.2 – Pitched Roofs. However, there is very little detail pertaining to what you can and cannot use your loft for. Instead, the focus is on the construction of the timbers making up the roof space and the methods required to adequately damp-proof, ventilate and insulate the roof space.
Section 7.2.12 – Access
Suitable access to the roof void is required to access things such as cisterns, tanks, HVAC or solar panel equipment if present. In such cases, the NHBC Standards actually require that securely fixed boards are fitted as walkways to the equipment. The only requirement relevant to new build loft boarding is that “boarding should be securely fixed without compressing the insulation.”
Section 7.2.15 – Ventilation, Vapour Control & Insulation
The only other section of interest is 7.2.15, which gives some requirements for how the roof void is ventilated to the outside air, the application of damp-proof membranes and the insulating performance of loft access hatches. Regarding insulation, the only relevant requirement is that it should be of suitable thickness so as to meet building regulations.
In summary, your NHBC new build warranty protects you when you encounter issues in your home due to your builder’s work not meeting NHBC requirements.
And those requirements, or NHBC Standards, say nothing about boarding your loft invalidating your warranty. On the contrary, they state cases where you are required to board at least parts of your loft and that any loft boarding should be raised to provide ventilation to your loft insulation.
So, nothing there that prevents you from flooring your loft in your new build and keep your NHBC warranty intact.