Have you recently bought a new build home and been told you can’t use the loft for storage? Or you have been told that loft boarding invalidates your NHBC warranty? You are not alone and this information is incorrect.
Loft boarding is a great way to improve the storage space in your home and make it more comfortable to live in. Loft boarding will not void your NHBC warranty if it is installed and used correctly.
Read on for a more in depth understanding of what you can do in your loft without affecting your warranty.
What is a new build warranty?
On completion of your purchase of a new build home you will receive a warranty and insurance protection from the property developer. This provides you with protection from any building issues on moving in, and for a period of time after.
The protection generally includes a 2 year builder warranty and at least 8 years insurance cover for physical damage to the home caused by a failure to build to the Technical Requirements. This could be structural or non-structural building defects.
Who provides new build warranties?
A new build warranty is set up by the property developer and handed over to the homeowner on completion of the purchase specifically on exchange of contracts.
The developer can setup the warranty with a number of organisations, who must be members of a Consumer Code, but the main ones are:
NHBC (National House Building Council)
LABC Warranty (Local Authority Building Control)
While there are other providers the above four cover around 95% of all homes built in the UK. For the purposes of this blog we will concentrate on the NHBC warranty as this is the most widely used for private new home owners.
What Does Your NHBC New Build Warranty Cover?
1) Before Purchase
The NHBC warranty includes deposit protection for builder insolvency before completion of your new home.
2) In The First Two Years
In the first two years it provides protection for remedying any building defects and repairing any physical damage caused by a failure to meet the NHBC requirements at the builders own cost and within reasonable time.
In addition, it includes paying for any action required to treat, isolate or remove contamination from the land in line with any statutory notice or improve the condition of the land to prevent a statutory notice from being issued. It also includes paying for the reasonable cost of removing and storing your possessions and alternative accommodation, if necessary, while work is being carried out.
Essentially, the NHBC guarantees the obligations of the builder under the builder warranty.
3) In The Subsequent 8 Years
In the following 8 years it provides cover for any physical damage resulting from a building defect. The cover provides for physical damage resulting from physical damage to foundations, external cladding, curtain walling, external render, load-bearing elements including floors and walls i.e. the structural parts of the floors in the home, but not including the floor coverings.
The warranty can also provide cover for alternative accommodation during this period in the event that your home(s) is uninhabitable because of a failure to meet NHBC requirements. This can include costs of reasonable comparable alternative accommodation for those who permanently live in the home and temporary storage of your furniture; and reasonable ancillary costs while your home is unfit to live in. Full details of the warranty can be found here.
The loft is an excellent option for adding additional storage to your new build home without affecting the habitable rooms below. It is also a relatively low cost option too, win-win.
Your new build home will have at least 270mm of quilt insulation in the loft, possibly up to 400mm of insulation in some cases. This means the insulation will be far deeper than the height of the bottom cord of the truss.
Therefore, to be able to use your new build loft for storage you will need to board it out so it is safe to use and it doesn’t compress your loft insulation.
To board out your loft correctly you will need to raise the loft boards above the insulation. We have a blog specifically for this job, see here.
Raised loft boarding can be used to create much needed storage, or alternatively to safely access equipment that is located in the loft (e.g. solar panel inverters).
Does Loft Boarding Affect Your New Build Warranty?
The full NHBC policy document can be found here, which outlines exactly what does and does not affect the warranty.
Generally the policy outlines that if any alterations are carried out by a homeowner after purchase, any defects that are found to result from the alterations would not be covered by the warranty.
It is therefore important to ensure that any alterations to your home after purchase do not cause defects to your home.
For loft boarding the main issues to consider are the additional loading of the roof structure, the performance of the insulation and the ventilation in the loft.
Where a loft hatch has been supplied in a new build home, the roof structure has been designed to accommodate light storage plus the weight of a person accessing and moving around in the loft.
Chartered Structural Engineers confirm this and that trusses in new homes that are fitted with a loft hatch are designed to BS 6399-1:1996*. This standard specifies that the roof structure must be designed to carry a 25kg/m² loading for storage and a 90Kg load to account for a person accessing the loft.
The NHBC also confirm that ‘Where access to loft space is provided, structural design is required to take account of live loading on ceiling joists for the purposes of occasional entry and maintenance and a nominal live load allowance is included in acknowledgement that homeowners are liable to place light, miscellaneous and infrequently used items, such as might be suitable for spreading across widely-spaced joists, in the loft area’
Therefore, if your new build home has a loft hatch it will have been designed to accommodate the weight of light storage and the weight of a person to access the storage.
*Extract from BS 6399-1:1996
5.2 Ceiling Supports and similar structures
The following loads are appropriate for the design of frames and covering of access hatches (other than glazing), supports of ceilings and similar structures:
a) without access: no imposed load: or
b) with access: 0.25KN/m² uniformly distributed over the whole area and a concentrated load of 0.9KN so placed as to produce the maximum effect in the supporting members
The loft insulation should not be compressed as this will affect the energy efficiency of the house and may lead to other issues. A raised loft boarding system will ensure insulation is not compressed.
The ventilation in the loft should not be compromised as this could lead to condensation and potential mould issues. Vents should not be blocked as part of the boarding process.
Therefore, if the boarding is raised above the insulation with a system such as Loft Leg XL and is correctly installed, does not interfere with the ventilation of the loft, and not overloaded, loft boarding will not invalidate your NHBC warranty.
How Do You Avoid Invalidating Your Warranty?
You can avoid invalidating your warranty by ensuring any alterations to your new build home doesn't cause defects to your home.
If you are installing loft boarding, make sure you use a system such as Loft Leg XL to prevent the insulation from being compressed. The raised loft boarding needs to be installed to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Once installed it is also important not to overload the raised boarding and not to block any vents in the loft. If all the above are carried out your warranty will not be invalidated.
Do Raised Loft Board Systems Invalidate Your Warranty?
No, as discussed above, a raised loft floor system if fitted correctly using a system such as Loft Leg XL will not invalidate your warranty.
Make sure of these key steps:
1 ) The loft boarding is raised above the insulation using a system such as Loft Leg XL
2) The raised loft boarding is fitted to manufacturer’s instructions in accordance with the NHBC's guidelines.
3) The ventilation in the loft is not altered
4) The raised loft boarding is not overloaded
If you have any concerns about the work, contact the NHBC for advice. The Loft Leg NHBC statement can be found here.
Loft Leg Ltd. specialises in providing homeowners and builders with innovative, state-of-the-art loft storage essentials. Get started utilising your loft space in the most efficient way possible by visiting www.loftleg.com