Self-Build Home Insurance – What you need to know

‘Selfie’s’ really are all the rage these days! The awareness and popularity of self-build homes in the UK has been rocketing, with many self-builders realising the considerable advantages of their construction.  A self-built home offers many exciting possibilities, but it also represents a significant investment in both time and money. Self-building carries risks of injury and damage to property and so it is important to understand what your risk exposures are and how to protect against them. Insuring your self build project doesn’t need to be overly complicated, but it is important to get it right.

When should I think about self-build insurance?

In a nutshell, plan as early on in the process as possible.  Once you have exchanged on your plot of land or property you are responsible for the insurance on it.  You are liable for any third parties that may enter your land and suffer injury, damage or loss if there has been negligence on your part.

You may have bought your plot with a view to building in years to come, in which case self-build insurance won’t be suitable, because Self-build insurance only starts to operate once the self-build project is due to start.  If this is the case, you can purchase ‘plot insurance’ and usually the cheapest way to secure property owner’s insurance for a plot of land is to speak to your existing home insurers.  They may be able to extend the ‘legal liability to the public’ section of your household policy to include your new plot.

If your existing insurer is not agreeable to this, then a ‘plot insurance’ policy can be bought and these start at around £180 for £1m worth of cover.  Higher limits can be obtained if deemed necessary, however, pricing does vary depending on the location, size and type of plot.

What does self-build insurance cover?

If you have bought your plot and plans are underway to erect your self-build, you need to take out self-build insurance. This type of insurance is a property and liability package for those individuals undertaking a self-build home project for their own occupation upon completion.  It is not for developers.

There are essentially two areas of cover: The Contracts Works – where you are covered against perils such as fire, theft, storm damage and accidental damage during the contract works and then your Liabilities which provides cover for accidents that occur on site to members of the public or contractors working for you.

Contract Works covers you for loss or damage to:

  • the buildings whilst in the course of erection
  • the plant, tools and equipment being used

Public and Products liability will cover you for:

  • Your legal liability to pay compensation, costs and expenses in respect of personal injury or damage to the property of a third party.

Employers liability will cover you for:

  • Your legal liability to pay compensation, costs and expenses in respect of bodily injury sustained by an employee arising out of and during the course of employment with you.

Cover starts the moment you exchange contracts on the property or plot of land and during the construction process right up to the point that the home is completed and signed off.   Once completed, you then require full home insurance.

My contractor is insured – do I still need self-build insurance?

It is always advisable to remain in control of insuring your project to ensure that there are no grey areas or gaps in cover.  If your project is being financed with a mortgage, it is highly unlikely that the lender will accept a contractor’s policy and may insist you source your own insurance.  Your contractor is likely to have some insurance, indeed you should always check that as a minimum they have liability cover, but their policy might not cover materials that you have sourced and bought. Their policy may have other restrictions and exclusions that leave you and your build vulnerable.

How is self-build insurance priced?

The risks a property faces can differ depending on where it is built. An inner-city property is more susceptible to theft and malicious damage.  Generally, a self-build site will lack the security of a larger development, so they can be a target for thieves with materials and tools proving particularly popular. Rural properties may be less attractive to thieves, but can be more susceptible to weather related claims such as storms.

In general the value of the construction forms the basis of how the project is rated for insurance along with the length of time cover is required.  Some policies offer a 9 month period of insurance, whilst others 12 months with the option to extend to 24 months thereafter.  You could expect that a 9 month policy with a construction value of £200,000 to start at around £450.

What sort of claims can arise?

Theft is the most frequent claim for self-build insurance where materials, tools and machinery are stolen from the site.  There continues to be targeted thefts of Non-Ferrous Metals (NFM) such as copper, lead, tin and related alloys such as brass and bronze, but aluminium and ferrous metals such as iron and steel are also sought after.  Construction sites can be prone to a ‘strip out’, where nearly all metal is removed by thieves. This can include electrical cables and switchgear, pipework, radiators, flashings, boilers, gates, fencing and so on.

Should an accident occur on site for which you are held responsible the claims can run into a great deal of money which can delay your build or make it financially impossible to complete it.  This even includes trespassers. Accidents are certainly one area where your liability cover comes into operation.

Are there any exclusions?

There will be exclusions in an insurance policy, so a thorough understanding of the policy wording is crucial.  Some key exclusions are listed below:

  • The first part of any claim (your excess)
  • Damage to vehicles
  • Gradual deterioration or wear and tear, faulty or defective design, materials or workmanship
  • Damage to existing structures and contents (unless a sum is shown is shown opposite)
  • Repair to or replacement of your plant or hired in plant caused by its own mechanical or electrical breakdown
  • Terrorism (unless cover is specifically requested)
  • Damage to existing structures unless these have been noted.
  • Loss or damage from pollution or contamination

Risk management is key and as is having a solid working relationship with clear lines of communication with your contractor, should you be using one Whenever the site is left unattended all reasonable measures must be taken to ensure the site or premises are secure.  This would include ensuring that the tools and equipment are kept inside a locked and secured building or unit.

On completion

Congratulations!  You’ve built your dream home and hopefully haven’t had to make an insurance claim.  However, if you have, you want to take comfort from the fact that you have been in control of the insurance, having bought a self- build insurance product that gives you that peace of mind.  It is important that you read the policy wording carefully on purchase so that you know what the policy will do for you in the event of loss or damage and so that you know what your obligations are in order for cover to be effective. The last thing to arrange is full household insurance in order to continue the protection of your greatest investment.

For more information or to obtain a quotation on your self-build project please contact Alexandra Richards on 07464 545648 or [email protected]

Smash Success for A Taste of Borders Tourism

A Tourism and Hospitality event, A Taste of Borders Tourism, organised by Local MSP Rachael Hamilton, Borders College, Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Borders and Midlothian Borders Tourism Action Group (MBTAG) went down a treat with local students.

The event that welcomed 152 pupils from secondary schools across the Borders to Kelso Racecourse educated the invitees to learn more about the vast array of opportunities in the Tourism and Hospitality sector and encourage them to consider it as a rewarding career.

The event highlighted what skills are needed to succeed in the sector and also what skills the sector is short of.

The Scottish Borders is currently experiencing a skills gap in the Tourism & Hospitality sector despite being a key contributor to the local economy and one of the strongest in Scotland. It is estimated that tourism contributes around £20 million to the Borders economy.

The event was kindly sponsored by Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers, Rabbie’s Tours Scotland, Kelso Racecourse and DYW Borders.

Organisations taking part in the event were:

  • Born in the Borders.
  • Firebrick Brasserie.
  • Visit Scotland.
  • Barony Castle.
  • Buccleuch Arms.
  • Carfraemill.
  • Borders College.
  • MBTAG.
  • Provender Melrose.


Rachael Hamilton MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire said:

‘Firstly, many thanks to all who sponsored and helped make this event happen. The Scottish Borders is proud to have one of the strongest Tourism & Hospitality sectors in Scotland and it is right that we celebrate it and work to make it stronger.

‘The sector is facing a skills shortage challenge. However, we have incredibly talented young persons who can fill these shortages and actually help improve and grow the sector.

‘The young people of the Scottish Borders can and will make a tremendous contribution to our local economy and we should support them to do just that. This event has highlighted the talent we have in our young persons. It is time to cultivate that talent and work together to see not only the Tourism & Hospitality sector grow, but also the Scottish Borders economy grow as a whole.

Alexandra Richards from Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers added:

‘Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers are delighted to have supported this inspiring event.  It highlighted that a career in Hospitality & Tourism in the Scottish Borders is not just about working in a hotel or restaurant.  If you are interested in digital marketing, filming, advertising, logistics, management, entrepreneurship and even insurance and risk management – all these roles can and need to be fulfilled in the Hospitality & Tourism Sector in the Scottish Borders with enthusiastic young people who are passionate about where they come from and want to showcase the Scottish Borders to the rest of the world.

‘We are proud to be sponsors of Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland who have provided over 1,200 scholarships and more than 10,000 bursaries to nurture and support the development of local, emerging Scottish talent within the hospitality industry.  Today’s interactive event delivered by Scottish Borders organisations played a really important and vital role in helping young people understand what opportunities are out there for them.’

Traffic Disruptions from Monday 8th January – Edinburgh Office

Edinburgh Council will be undertaking Carriageway renewal works, which will be situated in close proximity to our Edinburgh Office. The works are to resurface the carriageway on Great Junction Street and are scheduled to commence on Monday 8th January 2018 and expected to last 4 weeks depending on weather conditions. Operating times will be from 08.00 -17.00 Monday to Saturday and 10.00 – 16.30 on Sundays.

Road use during the works:

To allow for the safe execution of works there will be temporary road closures and parking restrictions.Traffic on Great Junction Street will be restricted to North bound traffic only and the following closures will be put into practice:

  • Great Junction Street from Bonnington Road Junction to North Junction Street / Ferry Road Junction to all vehicles travelling south to the Foot of the Walk. North bound traffic towards North Junction Street will be unaffected.
  • Cables Wynd from Yardheads to Great Junction Street will also be closed for the duration of the construction works.
  • The diversion route for south bound traffic that would normally travel along Great Junction Street is via Coburg Street, Sandport Place and Henderson Street, to arrive back at Great Junction Street. Traffic will be managed in and out of Mill Lane, Taylor Gardens and Ballantyne Road by the contractor.  There will be a left turn only policy for traffic exiting Bonnington Road, Bangor Road and Ballantyne Road for the duration of the works.  There will be a right turn only policy for traffic exiting Taylor Gardens and Mill lane, again for the duration.


Parking suspensions will be in place to suspend waiting and unloading on both sides or Great Junction Street from Bonnington Road Junction to North Junction Street, Cables Wynd from Yardheads to Great Junction Street, King Street I and Coburg Street in its entirety. However please note if you are visiting our Edinburgh Office during opening hours, you are welcome to park in our office car park located off street.


Brand Refresh for Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers

2017 has been a year of consolidation and steady growth for Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers. We are now addressing plans for continued growth and investment in professional development.

Over the course of the last 6 months we have reviewed our current branding and we are now delighted to launch our new, refreshed look.


This updated logo gives our brand a new lease of life and stands us in good stead for our future plans. While we have stayed true to our core values, we have given the logo a cleaner, more polished appearance. We are following our brand refresh with a new website which will launch in early 2018.

If you have any feedback please do not hesitate to get in touch. We would be delighted to hear from you. [email protected]

Remember, remember the Fifth of November

It’s that time of year again and whilst we don’t want to dampen the spirit, we have some great tips to help you stay safe.

Sparkle safely!

Sparklers can be perceived as harmless fireworks. However they actually burn at very high temperatures and therefore can cause serious damage and injuries. When handling sparklers remember to,

  • Always light one sparkler at a time. Lighting several at a time will increase the risk of creating a flare up.
  • Wear gloves when handling sparklers. This will reduce the risk of burning your hands.
  • When sparklers are lit, hold them at arm’s length and ensure you remain a safe distance from others.
  • Don’t light sparklers near any other fireworks you may have. This increases the risk of fire.
  • When the sparkler is finished, put it in a bucket of cold water. Sparklers retain their temperature even after they have been extinguished. Emerging them in cold water will reduce the temperature quickly.

Check out our favourite recipe for Bonfire Banoffee Pie!


  • 300g Ginger nut biscuits or digestives
  • 100g Butter
  • 5 Bananas (Peel, Slice Lengthways, then in half)
  • 1 X 397g tin Carnation Caramel
  • 3 x 200g Bags of Marshmallows


  1. Line the base of a 21cm loose bottomed tart tin (3.5cm deep) with nonstock baking paper. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until they reach a fine crumb with the melted butter and spoon into the tin. Use the back of a spoon to press the biscuits into the base and up to the side. Chill in the fridge for 30minutes.
  2. Lay the bananas on the base in an even layer. Spoon the caramel into a bowl, stir well until smooth, then pour evenly over the bananas, to the top of the biscuit case. Chill for a further 30minuntes.
  3. Preheat the grill to high. Arrange the marshmallows on top, starting with an even layer all over, then pile up to 2 or 3 high in the centre. Grill for 15 secs or until gooey and brown on top. Decorate cake with sparklers if you like.

Ghoulishly good tips to help prepare you and your home for Halloween!

Halloween Travel Tips

If you travel on the roads this Halloween we advise you use extra caution to protect yourself, fellow passengers and others around you.

  • When traveling through neighbourhoods and poorly lit areas, use the utmost caution and drive slowly. Children’s movements can be unpredictable. Additionally their costume may make them less visible to you.
  • Avoid distraction whilst driving by putting your all devices away, this will reduce all temptation to take glances.
  • If you are wearing a costume that restricts your movement or view, take it off for the duration of your journey.

A scarily safe pumpkin

Using a candle to illuminate your well carved pumpkin can be dangerous, Halloween costumes and paper decorations can easily catch fire. Therefore consider using a battery powered candle or alternatively a toy jack-o’-lantern. Both will provide you with a seriously spooky yet safe glow.

Trick or Treat?

Whilst nearly all trick or treaters are harmless children eager to gather as many sweets as they can, it’s important you remain vigilant when answering your door. Halloween costumes can be deceiving, therefore if you have an particularly uneasy feeling about the person behind the mask, don’t open the door!

Sitting this Halloween out?

No problem, but don’t turn the lights out!! Yes a well lit house may well attract little monsters, however it will likely dissuade potential thieves!

Check out our favourite recipe for toffee apples below!


  • 8 Apples
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 6 drops of red food colouring (optional)


  1. Remove the wax coating on your apples and place them in a bowl.
  2. Cover the apples in boiling water. After 30 seconds remove the apples and remove the stalks and place the apples on a wooden skewer.
  3. To make the toffee, pour the sugar into a saucepan. Add 100ml water and set over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then add the golden syrup and vinegar. Use a spoon to pour a little toffee into a bowl of cold water. When it’s ready it will harden instantly. If the toffee is still soft, continue to heat.
  4. Carefully and quickly pick up each apple using the stick and dip it into the toffee. Rotate each apple in the hot toffee until fully covered, drain for a few seconds then place onto baking paper with the sticks facing up and vertical.
  5. Leave to cool, then enjoy!

Highly Commended Winner 2017 of Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight

We are delighted to have been given a highly commended award for our efforts at promoting Scottish Food & Drink during the recent Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight 2017.  The initiative encouraged businesses of all shapes and sizes to change just one thing to promote Scottish produce.  As members of Scotland’s Food & Drink we championed local producers and suppliers via our social media channels.

Speaking at the official prize giving at the NorthLink Ferries terminal in Aberdeen, Fiona Richmond, Head of Regional Food at Scotland Food & Drink, said:

“Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight takes place every year and it’s a fantastic way of celebrating our growers, producers, chefs and restaurateurs’, as well as our vast and delicious Scottish larder.”

How To: Protect your home during renovations

Great article in the Scotsman at the weekend by Al Richards one of our in-house private client and art experts.

Your home is often your most valuable asset.  Rebuild values can run into excess of £1m so there are many things to consider before planning any refurbishment or renovation works.

Home insurers are often unable to accept the risk of insuring your home if it is undergoing works in excess of £50,000. To an insurer, the risk has materially changed and your home is effectively classed as a building site. This could leave you uninsured if, for example, a fire broke out that’s unrelated to the building works.

Heritage and period properties can present the most challenging circumstances with high rebuild values. In some cases, homes in Scotland have faced rebuilds in excess of £20m where millions are being spent on renovation works.

It is essential to protect the existing structure therefore you should look to insure your contract works under one ‘catch-all’ policy to avoid gaps in cover or any grey areas. This will ensure a cleaner, simpler claims process should any incidents occur.  Therefore, before you undertake any sort of home works, you must inform your broker or insurer.

If you don’t take these steps, your existing insurer will most likely reduce the cover provided under your existing policy and in many cases may cancel this cover altogether. This could leave your home uninsured at a time of potential risk or damage during the renovations.

There are two risk elements to consider: the contract works including works in progress, plant and machinery, building materials, liabilities and your existing home, its contents and your liabilities.

Many homeowners aren’t aware that their home insurance premium could change as a result of work.  However your property is more susceptible to damage during building work. The risk of fire increases greatly if there is electrical work, welding or hot works being undertaken or if there are paint removal torches being used. Incidences of theft can potentially occur with the number of people working on the site at any given time.

There’s also a greater likelihood of exposure to the elements or damage to water pipes.  In addition there are increased liabilities such as the risk to public safety due to falls and accidents from holes and accessible walkways.

Your household insurer is unlikely to agree to insure the works so this leaves you reliant on your architect or contractor’s Contractors All Risks and Public and Employer’s Liability insurance to provide adequate cover for you.

The two main options are – the contractor insures the works and you continue to insure the existing structure of your home and its contents albeit on a significantly reduced basis.  The other option is that you insure the works and structure under one specialist policy. This will allow you to retain complete control over the insurance for your home.

It is advisable to talk to your insurance broker before undertaking any work as they will introduce you to a policy that will continue to insure your buildings, contents and liabilities within your existing home policy.  This can be combined with the building works on an all risks basis up to a contract value of £5m and beyond.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Al Richards – [email protected] or call  0131 553 2293.

Bruce Stevenson colleagues to ride in The Hiscox Tourmalet Challenge

“The Hiscox Tourmalet Challenge takes place on the 8th July 2016 in the Pyrenees mountains of southern France to raise monies for a number of charities. A team of brokers and Hiscox staff will cycle Stage 8 of the 2016 Tour de France the day before the professionals and Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers will be represented on this epic ride by Derek Skinner and Gary Bratt, both of whom are accomplished cyclists and eager to accept the challenge.

The punishing 147.5km route from Lourdes to Bagnères-de-Luchon (the professionals will start in Pau, covering 183km with the additional 33.5km coming on flat roads before arriving at the mountains) includes four large mountain climbs, including the iconic Col du Tourmalet which tops out at 2115m.

The team’s aim (apart from conquering the four climbs on the route) is to raise a total of £25,000 for charity. Each member of the team will choose a charity for which he or she will raise funds. To donate, please go to the following JustGiving  page and sponsor the riders for a worthy cause.”