Building works

13 February 2023

Are your premises undergoing repairs, maintenance or an extension?

Silhouettes of two construction workers standing on scaffolding at sunset

What are your obligations?

You are responsible for ensuring that anyone working on your premises is competent and will work safely with due regard for others’ safety. You must be able to show that you have procedures in place to ensure the people you appoint to carry out works are suitably trained and competent.

What should you do before building work starts?

Consult with your architect to establish insurance obligations under the terms of your contract and advise your broker as soon as building work is planned. You may need to arrange additional insurance cover in respect of:

  • The existing structure together with the contents, and
  • The works and all unfixed materials and goods other than builders’ plant, tools and other equipment.

What should you do when employing contractors?

You should carry out reasonable checks to ensure contractors are competent and experienced in that type of work, especially when hot works are involved.

You should ensure that the contractors have suitable insurances against public liability (PL) (Third Party) and employers’ liability risks. Such insurances should also be extended by specific reference to protect the interests of your organisation by the inclusion of an indemnity to principal clause. It is reasonable to see your contractor’s valid current certificate of insurance, showing an adequate PL indemnity. This should appropriately reflect the scale and scope of the works and the values at risk.

Are there any particular considerations regarding hot work?

Building work may mean the introduction of additional hazards, such as hot work. This involves the application of heat and includes work involving the use of blowlamps, heat guns, cutting torches and welding apparatus. This is often undertaken by plumbing and decorating contractors and roofing contractors in particular may be using tar boilers.

A Hot Work Permit must be issued if your building works are insured with us and there are hot works involved. This will ensure, as far as possible, that contractors obtain permission from an authorised person before starting work and fire prevention precautions are taken before, during and after the works take place.

Reviewing a Hot Work Permit Checklist will help you to prepare for any works being carried out, giving due consideration to fire protection, the surrounding area of the work and equipment used.

Things to consider regarding wet works

Work on wet systems are common during building works, construction projects or routine maintenance. Losses during wet works are frequent and can quickly become costly, causing significant delays.

A Wet Work Permit should be issued (and in some instances may be a policy condition) if your building or works are insured with us and wet works are involved. This will ensure, as far as possible, permission is gained from an Authorised person before work is started and relevant precautions are taken before, during and after the works.

What basic precautions can you take?

All workers should be shown where fire extinguishers are and told where responsible officials or telephones can be found in the event of an emergency. The local police and fire brigade should be advised if the repair works are major. During the contract period responsible officials should inspect the buildings carefully at the end of each day to ensure all is in order, wherever possible, irregular visits should be made during the day.