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Before You Start Building- Your Safety during Home Renovations FAQ

Construction workers on site

Construction workers on building site- Be aware of the dangers to your person and property. Take sensible precautions

It is important to think about safety from the very beginning. Your architect will advise you of your legal health and safety responsibilities for the overall project. Your legal obligations mostly relate to the safety of people working for you, but you must also think about your own exposure to any risks the construction project may present.Such risks may include the risk of injury when you visit the site, risk to your property and contents, or financial losses due to inadequate insurance of your property during construction.These steps will help keep you and your home safe and secure during the construction period.

  1. Define the work area clearly
  2. Establish access rules
  3. Establish a store room or space which you control
  4. Check the scope of your home insurance cover and the contractors insurance for any omissions.
  5. We recommend a professional asbestos survey tips and info at the start of the design process for at-risk properties.

Defining the Work Area

The site area may be an open green field, it may be an entire derelict house, or it may be the garden of the house you live in. Agree the site area in writing or on a drawing before work starts. It may have to accommodate parking, storage of materials, and temporary toilets as well as the area of the new construction. The contractor should ideally be able to lock or securely fence- off the entire area outside working hours.

Access Rules

  1. The contractor should have exclusive control of the area for which they are responsible.
  2. You do not need to check the work; this is part of the architect’s job. Limit your site visits to pre-arranged dates.
  3. Only enter the site in the presence of the contractor or their representative and agree a site visit procedure with the contractor. (See upcoming post for our recommended site visit procedure.)
  4. Consider the entire site area dangerous and “off limits” unless the contractor specifically says otherwise.
  5. Agree how many sets of keys will be provided to the contractor?
  6. Agree working hours (this may be specified in your planning permission)
  7. Agree the time and date of handover to the contractor in writing
  8. Agree a point of contact with the contractor for the project and try to get several phone numbers in case of emergency.
  9. How will sub- contractors get in on a daily basis? Will the contractor appoint a supervisor or visit personally every day? Avoid leaving a key “under the mat”; this is all too common on building sites and it’s a recipe for disaster.
  10. If an existing house has an alarm system, leave as many sensors as possible in place for as long as possible. Change the alarm code after the project is complete.

Storage of valuables

If work is happening in the home you currently live in, it is best to create a “store room” for valuables and items such as furniture and electronics that must be kept clean and dust- free during construction. This room should be locked by you, and the contractor should not have access. Most contractors prefer this because it means that their staff are beyond suspicion if items are lost, misplaced or stolen during the project.

Insurance- Your Home Insurance and the Builder’s Insurance Policy

Your home insurance cover may be affected by construction work. You must contact your insurer, describe the works in detail and ask them to set out what effect (if any) the project has on your insurance cover. Make a phone call to them before commencement of works, and then follow up with a letter to confirm their acknowledgement.

During the building project, the builder’s insurance will cover a range of risks relating to the project and the building under their care. The insurance duties are set out in standard building contracts. As a general rule, the builder insures the area under his control, and you insure the area under your control, but this is a very vague and general rule.Contact your insurer and let them tell you if the work affects your home insurance policy. You should then review the contractor’s policy and look for any gaps in overall cover.

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