Warranty Technical Audits
The Inspection Process
The Technical Audit forms an important part of the Warranty provision and process. It uses one of our Partnered Approved Inspectors (AI’s), Assigned Certifiers or specialist Surveyors to review the build as it progresses.
If your build has already started and you are using one of our Partnered Approved Inspectors or Assigned Certifiers as your Building Control Body, we can still progress under our combined Building Control and Technical Audit process.
If your build has started and you are not using one of our Partnered Approved Inspectors or Assigned Certifiers then we can still progress as detailed below.
If the build has completed and you are looking to take out a Warranty, then we can utilise the Partnered Approved Inspector or Assigned Certifier and undertake a Completed Housing Survey.
The auditing process for the Warranty is carried out both in the office and through site visits to enable a Warranty to be issued.
Initially, a Plan Check is undertaken preferably before the build starts.
Depending on the type, size and stage of your build the Surveyor will conduct a number of Key Stage Inspections and/or general inspections at various stages throughout the construction phase. Please note that not all stages detailed below will require a visit as this is very much dependent on the type of project/build.
In relation to visits, where the project has not yet started, there are typically four key stage inspections to complete on a new build project and these are detailed below.
Additional visits may also be included due to the size, type, stage and programming of your project form the information you have given to the Warranty provider.
Normally you will be advised what inspections will be required for your project by the Surveyor who may provide you with a visit plan. If the inspection regime alters during the course of the build/project due to a change in the size, type or phasing of your project, then additional cost(s) may be incurred and these may be at your account.
Please bear in mind that the Surveyor will no doubt have a busy diary and will require reasonable notice to attend site (this could be up to five working days).
It is crucial that all Inspections are conducted at the correct time and it is YOUR responsibility to arrange for these visits to be undertaken at the correct time.
If as a result of a failed visit or at a requested visit, the project was not ready for inspection, then BZSS through your Warranty provider may charge you for the wasted visit.
If stages are missed then this may have implications for the Warranty provider. You may be asked at your own expense to open up completed works to show parts of the build which have been covered up. The Warranty provider, may even elect to exclude certain elements of the build from the Warranty or even decline to offer cover at all.
The Inspection Process
First Inspection - Foundation Excavations
This inspection should be co-ordinated to ensure that the Surveyor arrives at least two hours in advance of the pouring of concrete as sometimes a certain amount of trimming or de-watering of the trench bottoms may be required before any concrete is poured. It is important to bear in mind that if the foundations are to be “pulled” in stages including underpinning, then this should be discussed with the Surveyor as soon as possible to agree a schedule for any additional inspections required.
For Warranty Technical Audits, we only allow for one visit at this stage so if the foundation “pull” is in stages, additional visits may be required which will be over and above the pre-paid survey inspections for which you have paid the Warranty provider.
Invariably the initial visit is the first opportunity for the Surveyor to fully discuss the project with you in person and comment on when they are likely to want to undertake future visits in line with your proposed build.
It is important that if a Plan Check has not already been done by this stage, that a set of Construction Plans is made available to the Surveyor to enable them to carry out or complete the check to make sure all the Building Regulations/Building Standards and Warranty requirements have been met.
Obviously if anything is identified at this time it can be discussed and solutions agreed to avoid any delays or abortive work. If any issues are identified during the course of construction, then these will be advised at the time of the inspection and confirmed to you in a Remediation Notice issued shortly after the visit. These should be addressed as soon as possible and evidence provided to the Surveyor in order that the issue can be cleared.
During the build it is essential that all underground drains are seen laid on a suitable bed and surround. Falls and lines are also checked so ensure they discharge to the outfall point and all new connections are made correctly. It is at your discretion (but good building practice) if an air pressure test is conducted at this stage in order to identify any potential leaks prior to covering the drains but in any event, Warranty providers will require a test of all of the drainage system upon completion of the works.
If an inspection of the drainage is not undertaken during the key stage visits, then you will be responsible for providing evidence that the drainage system has been checked/inspected by a fully competent and insured person. Without independent evidence, the Warranty is likely to be endorsed insofar as the Warranty will not cover damage to the system or may not be issued.
In some cases, it is possible to accept specific written confirmation from the Building Control Body that the drainage system has been tested on completion and meets the necessary requirements. However, the issue of the Building Control Completion Certificate alone is not sufficient evidence and is not normally accepted by BZSS or the Warranty providers.
Second Inspection – Damp Proof Course/Damp Proof Membrane and Over-site Preparation
To prevent damp ingress at ground level the Damp Proof Course (DPC) will normally be inspected together with the Damp Proof Membrane (DPM) where appropriate.
If a Ground Bearing Slab is proposed, the compacted fill and DPM will need to be inspected prior to the concrete being poured.
If a suspended slab is utilised such as a beam and block floor, the design must be provided as part of the plan check and a number of blocks left out temporarily to enable a full inspection of the void. Provision for effective cross-flow ventilation should also be seen below the suspended ground floor slab.
This stage also gives the visiting Surveyor time to discuss the remaining programme of inspections with you and to firm up the proposals for the superstructure and the remaining schedule of the build.
Third Inspection – Roof On & Scaffold erected
This visit should be planned at a stage where the roof finish has been completed but the scaffold is still in place to enable safe access to review the roof system as a whole and any fenestration which has been installed. A clean and clear cavity should be free from mortar droppings with correctly positioned insulation together with appropriately fitted cavity trays, these are vital in preventing the horizontal ingress of moisture. Due to the programming of works with most builds, with the roof on work may have progressed “internally” including the start of the electrics and the carcasing of internal walls and this is a good stage to review this
In the unfortunate event that any remedial works are identified to the roof or the wall construction, this will provide sufficient opportunity to rectify any faults and provide guidance for the remaining construction.
If your build includes a timber frame system to form the main structure, the visit should be planned for when the frame has been erected and the roof finish has been completed, ie the frame has been “loaded”. Again the scaffold should still be in place to enable the auditing Surveyor to fully review the roof finish, the insulation and any fenestration which has been fitted. A further visit will then be taken shortly afterwards to review the start of the waterproof envelope.
Here the visit is designed to review the start of the external cladding. Where applicable, a clean and clear cavity should be free from mortar droppings with correctly positioned insulation, wall ties correctly fixed through the tape to timberwork behind, and appropriately fitted cavity trays. If a board and render system is proposed, then the Warranty provider will require type approval via an Agrément certificate.
Fourth Inspection – Pre-Plaster
Geared towards more complex builds such as conversions, extensions or refurbishments, large or long term builds, the Surveyor may require additional visit(s) at this stage of the build to review other aspects of the superstructure, which may include elements such as flat roofs. This inspection provides an opportunity to inspect the “Skeleton” of the build whether the build is of a traditional construction or a timber frame kit is utilised.
Structural elements such as floor timbers, beams and the roof timberwork together with ‘First Fix’ (electrical and plumbing installations) should be exposed prior to them being covered up. It is also an opportunity to discuss the requirements that must be satisfied before the Surveyor will be able to conduct the Completion inspection.
Final Inspection – Completion
All works should be completed and the commissioning and completion certificates obtained. These may include but are not limited to HETAS, Gas Safe, Electrical, SAP, Sound and EPC. If any of your build includes an element of tanking or flat roofing, a financially adequate 10 Year Insurance Backed Guarantee for the materials and workmanship will be required by the Warranty provider.
During the final visit, the Surveyor will review the build or project as a whole and may ask for additional information concerning the build including photographs and any as built drawings etc. Safe access will be required to review the drainage system and access into any loft voids.
If any Remediation Notices have been issued during the project these should have been cleared by this stage. If there are further issues brought about by the Surveyor as part of his final visit, these should be addressed as soon as possible.
It should be noted that some items raised may only be related to the Warranty and whilst the Building Control Certificate could be issued by your Building Control Body, it won’t necessarily mean that a Warranty certificate can be issued.
Any issues which remain outstanding, may simply delay the issue of the Warranty Certificate or possibly lead to exclusions being applied or worse case, the withdrawal to offer cover completely.
Once all the Certificates and Guarantees have been obtained the Surveyor will be in a position to complete their Technical Audit of your project. They will then confirm to BZSS allowing us to issue our Technical Audit Assessment Certificate resulting in the Warranty being issued.