No, a selfbuild house never seems complete, but at the stage commonly called practical completionthis is the point at which basically all the building work is complete and you can move in. There may be the odd small outstanding item and occasionally minor defects may show up over the following months various things come into effect:
- Obviously you yourself want be satisfied with the completed work.
- Building Control, who govern how a house is constructed, can issue a completion certificate. See below.
- Your architect can issue a certificate of completion. See below
- Your lender (if you have one) needs to be satisfied about releasing final payments. They may require either of the two above or they may want to rely on a surveyor’s report (usually a surveyor who they nominate and you pay for)
- You can pay off your builder (but probably keep some retention money (see below)
- The NHBCThe National House-Building Council describes itself as being "the leading warranty and insurance provider and standards setter for UK house-building for new and newly converted homes" (Solo) insurance (if you opt for this cover) comes into effect on completion and lasts for ten years. Same if you choose the Build Zone warranty
- Building site insurance can cease on completion and normal building insurance take over
- VATValue added tax can, to a large extent, be reclaimed on self build. see the page on VAT can probably be claimed on completion. See more
- An EPCenergy performance certificate is required
- note that the Home Information Pack requirement has been suspended.
Building Control and Building StandardsIn Scotland, the system administered by a local authority for granting permission for work to be done (Building WarrantA Building Warrant is the legal permission needed to commence building works. The Building Standards Service is responsible for granting Building Warrants) and for a completed building to be occupied (Completion Certificate) see Building Standards can issue a completion certificate providing the various stages of inspection have gained approval. This certificate may be required by your lender, solicitor or if you sell the house on in future. It shows that the main stages of the building works have been completed so far as can be reasonably ascertained by a building inspector. The Benchmark certificationA certification scheme for installers in the building industry. This includes Electrical, Heating, and MCSMicrogeneration Certification Scheme. MCS is an eligibility requirement for the Government's financial incentives, which include the Feed-in Tariff and the Renewable Heat Incentive. See the MCS web site Certification for Solar Electric, Solar Heating and Heat Pump Installers. These installers can self certify their own work for Building RegulationsThese are the mass of regulations that cover safety, health, welfare, convenience, energy efficiency etc. in the way buildings are constructed. Not to be confused with Planning consent (which is more to do with whether you can put up the building in the first place) approval. See the Benchmark web site system is also included in this.
The certificate does not guarantee that there are no hidden problems and it is not insurance cover. If you were to sell the house on some time after completion then usually this certificate is what the buyer would ask to see, probably along with an up to date surveyor’s report.
In Scotland, prior to the occupation of a new property a ‘habitation certificate’ needs to be issued by Building Standards. This would be in the form of either a Temporary Occupation/Use Certificate or Certificate of Completion. (It is an offence to occupy a building without one or the other).
Your architect (if you use one) can issue a ‘practical completion certificate’ when the job is finished. This may be all your lender needs to release a final stage payment of the mortgage. This certificate basically states that the building has been completed according to the plans and is usually based on visits made by the architect during the building work. It does not imply that there are no hidden defects which might come to light later and it is not the same as insurance cover such as is provided by an NHBC certificate.
It is normal, on small domestic scale building contracts, to withhold 5% of the payment due to the builder for a period of 6 months, or occasionally one year, after practical completion. This is usually known as the defects liability period. At the end of the period a schedule of defects is drawn up, the builder makes good any defects and then your architect (if you use one) issues a Certificate of Making Good Defects. The builder is then paid off in full. This all needs agreeing beforehand with the builder, usually in the form of a written contract.
It may be that by the end of the job you are involved in a dispute with your builder. See Disputes
Log book and instructions
Caves were not very technical but modern houses can be. When the power goes off or a burst pipe sprays water over your computer it pays to have instructions about how to handle it. There are various ways of doing this but remember that a computer may not be of much help. Probably the best way is to have all the information collected in a ring binder (along with logs of service intervals etc.) and then to also have individual instruction sheets in laminated covers, discreetly situated near the relevant appliances such as boilers, consumer units, broadband connections, fire alarms etc.