Completing your self-build: the final stages
After months of hard work, your self-build is finally coming to life before your very eyes and almost ready to move into. You’ve spent months if not years poring over architectural drawings, interior designs and furnishings. But now, as all your plans finally come together, what’s required at the very final stages of the build? Here, we provide a checklist of sorts for the final activities and considerations required around completion stage, to ensure moving day is as stress-free as possible.
Final warranty inspection
Ideally, your self-build home will have no defects - but that’s not always the case. While significant structural issues (such as in the foundations or load-bearing elements) aren’t always immediately apparent, any that do crop up will usually do so in the first two years after completion. These risks can be covered with a structural warranty (sometimes referred to as latent defects insurance), which usually lasts for 10 years and costs anything from £1,500 to £5,000, depending on the size of your house and complexity of the project.
Your warranty provider should have been visiting at regular intervals throughout the build to confirm that the house has been built to a satisfactory standard at each stage, and issue certificates to this effect. To demonstrate that your house is officially complete and covered by the warranty, you’ll receive the final certificate at the completion stage. This highly important document should be kept safely with the house paperwork and be passed on to any subsequent owner.
Energy Performance Certificate
Every new build requires an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to be prepared by an accredited assessor. Using the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) methodology and software, the energy performance and environmental impact of your self-build is assessed and compared to other dwellings. After the assessment, the assessor will give you a digital copy of your certificate. It’s worth bearing in mind that the cost of an assessment varies by assessor and the size of the property.
Official completion certification
Once you reach the guide completion date written into your building contract and your home is almost ready to move into, your contractor should notify you or your surveyor, project manager or homebuilding package supplier that the house requires an inspection. If everything is in place for handover, the formal application to the local authority can be made for the official completion certificate.
This document is one of the most important you’ll be given during your self-build and will enable you to move into it, rent it out or put it up for sale. Without it, your project will not be proven to have been built and finished to a satisfactory standard and won’t officially be allowed to be used as a place to live in.
‘Snagging’ involves gathering your tradespeople to do a final walk-through the house and rectify any minor and larger faults throughout. This might include anything from poor paintwork to badly fitted windows, but you may find more serious defects. Be thorough – although your property may look neat as a pin at first glance, a closer look could highlight potential red flags, saving you hundreds or even thousands of pounds later on.
Homeowner insurance policy
While you’ll have been covered by self-build insurance throughout the build process, you’ll need to switch it out to a homeowner’s policy once it’s ready to move into. Although they’re infinitely customisable, there are certain standard elements including (but not limited to) damage to the exterior or interior of your house, personal liability for damage or injuries and even hotel or house rental while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.
Claiming back VAT
If your self-build home is for personal use, you’ll be able to claim back some VAT on the materials used. Bear in mind that labour doesn’t form part of the reclaim procedure as it should be zero-rated at the time of the build, and you can’t get money back on VAT paid out for services, such as tool hire.
You’ll have a three-month window in which to submit your claim following the issue of your formal completion certificate. It’s crucial that you include everything that’s relevant, as you can only do it once. Alongside your request, you’ll need to attach:
- Your bank details
- The planning permission document
- Proof the building work is finished (such as a letter from your local authority)
- A full set of building plans
- All invoices
- Bills and any credit notes
- Proof the VAT has been paid
HMRC will acknowledge receipt of your claim by letter within 10 working days, and you’ll normally get your refund within 30 banking days of them receiving your forms.
Once you’ve completed everything on this list, you can truly enjoy the fruits of your labour and make your new house a home! Take a look at our case studies to be inspired by other breathtaking builds.
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