Has your builder told you that boarding your loft voids your new build warranty? Then we’ve got news for you. Because, in fact, NHBC & loft boarding go very well together. There are even cases where building regulations require you to board your loft. Read on to find out more!
Your NHBC warranty
If you are the proud owner of a new build home, your NHBC Buildmark warranty protects you from any issues that are due to faults in the design, workmanship or materials of your home. It’s there to hold your builder to account in case their work does not meet the NHBC requirements. Think of it as a strict set of standards based on building regulations.
But the cover changes over time: During the first 2 years after completion, your builder is responsible for rectifying any failures to meet the standard. So, you’re protected if there are issues with the work the builder has done – such as leaky windows due to faulty seals.
During years 3 to 10 after completion, your NHBC warranty provides insurance for damage that is a direct result of such a failure. This covers major problems with the structure of the house – like foundations, external render, roofs, ceilings & chimneys.
This means that after the first two years, smaller repairs become your responsibility – like problems with your gutters or fixtures and fittings. That’s why it’s so important to check your house for issues during the snagging period. Check out our loft snagging checklist to help with that.
NHBC & Loft Boarding
Another important thing to know about the NHBC & loft boarding: If you’re planning alterations, extensions or, for example, to floor your loft, standard new build warranties (i.e. NHBC) don’t provide cover for building work. Or for any damage or problems caused by it, for that matter.
So, if you have a problem with your house, the NHBC will first ascertain who caused the damage: Did the builder fail to meet the requirements? Or is it a result of something you have done to the property?
This means the question is not so much if boarding your loft voids your entire NHBC warranty. The question is if your builder can blame the damages they have caused on your loft boarding. (Or any other work you have done on your house, of course).
The answer is easy: Looking at the NHBC Buildmark policy, it would be difficult for the builder to blame loft boarding for any issue you have with your house. There is nothing in the text that gives the NHBC a blanket ‘out’ like this.
How to Avoid Invalidating your Warranty
So far so good. But prevention is better than cure. So, how do you avoid issues with the NHBC & loft boarding in the first place? Here are the two main issues to look out for.
What to look out for:
- Dampness & mould: Condensation forms naturally in your loft. Especially in winter when there’s a large difference between outside and inside temperatures. But if the airflow in your loft is restricted, dampness and mould will form over time. And this will keep your loft insulation from doing its job. If you have loft boarding installed, your builder will argue that the boards have restricted the airflow and prevented the condensation from being ventilated away.
- Structural issues: British Standards require your roof trusses to accommodate a minimum static load of 25kg per square metre. This is in addition to a dynamic point load of 180kg at the weakest point. If you see nails pop in the ceiling plasterboard or worse, your builders will claim you exceeded the allowed loading in your floored loft.
What to do:
So, what can you do to be on the safe side and keep the NHBC from weaselling out of a valid claim due to your loft boarding? It’s simple:
- Trusted traders: Make sure all work is meeting NHBC standards by choosing competent contractors who are fully insured. Look for companies that are members of relevant trade associations like the Federation of Master Builders.
- NHBC-approved loft flooring: Choose a raised loft flooring system that meets NHBC standards and is industry-approved, like LoftZone. All you need to do is show the BBA certificate proving that, when installed correctly, LoftZone does not affect airflow because it leaves a suitable gap.
- Follow regulations: Keep to the regulations for the intended use of your floored loft. For example, LoftZone loft flooring allows for one person to walk on it plus up to 25kg of loading from stored items per square metre.
In summary: Whilst flooring your loft cannot void your whole house warranty, doing it the right way will help you avoid missing out on a claim for certain loft-specific issues.
Am I Required to Board my Loft?
Do you have a solar pump and inverter, an alarm system, water tanks, mechanical ventilation systems or a gas boiler in your loft? When items in your loft require regular maintenance, building regulations require you to provide safe access in the shape of a platform or walkway from the hatch to the item in question.
Depending on the equipment, you might also have to provide a working platform of at least 1 square metre. And don’t forget to use raised loft boarding to avoid squashing the insulation.
You can find this in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2015), Clause 82, the National House Building Council (NHBC) Good Practice Guidance and the British Plumbing Employers’ Council (BPEC) CEN1 guidance document.