What is an architect’s certificate?
An architect’s certificate of completion is a document issued by a professional consultant, such as a chartered architect or surveyor, on a new build or newly converted property that vouches for the quality of the build and can be used to raise finance on it.
It is correctly known as a Professional Consultants Certificate, and is backed by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, but the term ‘Architects Certificate’ for new build projects and conversions is still commonly used by building and finance professionals.
If you need an architect’s certificate in a project in Birmingham or the West Midlands, Lapworth Architects have the expertise to get you one. But before that, let’s explain exactly what this certificate actually does.
Why do I need an architect's certificate/PCC?
This document acts as a technical certification if you’re looking to sell, mortgage or refinance a property built in the last six years. If you or your purchaser want to take out a mortgage on a new build, as lenders will generally only lend money against the property if it’s protected by a document like the CML’s Professional Consultants Certificate or an National House Builders’ Council (NHBC) warranty.
By way of an example, if you have a new build or newly converted property and:
- You’re selling the property and your buyer needs a mortgage or;
- You want to re-mortgage the property to release the property’s equity or;
- You’re looking to raise a Buy-to-Let mortgage;
Then the architect’s certificate is the minimum document your lender will require if you’re looking to raise a mortgage against a property completed in the last 6 years. They are widely accepted by banks and building societies as an assurance of construction quality, because they are backed by the issuing consultant’s professional indemnity insurance.
What does an architect's certificate cover?
The purpose of the PCC is to confirm to the mortgage lender that the construction of the property was overseen by an experienced and professionally accredited consultant, and that they have signed off on the quality of the build once complete. This means that a chartered architect or surveyor visited the site during the build to:
- check progress during construction
- ensure that the build conformed with building regulations drawings
- make sure that the property followed building contract instructions.
In addition, the PCC also guarantees that the consultant named will remain liable for any structural mistakes or issues to the first purchasers and their lender (and subsequent purchasers and lenders) for the period of 6 years from the date of the certificate. It guarantees that the consultant:
- has appropriate experience in the design and/or monitoring of the construction and conversion of residential buildings; and
- will keep a certain level of professional indemnity insurance in force to cover their liabilities under the certificate.
What’s the difference between a PCC and an NHBC warranty?
The scale of small developers and self-builders means that not all conversions and new builds will benefit from an extensive new home warranty, and so where this cover is not available – for example, if a developer doesn’t meet registration requirements for existing new build schemes due to their size – a Professional Consultants Certificate/architect’s certificate is in fact preferred.
Although it might seem like an NHBC warranty is a better option, the NHBC works to represent hundreds of developers – and this means that the larger scale means greater expense and more barriers to resolving the issue. An architect’s certificate can be completed within two weeks, and can therefore be absolutely invaluable as a guarantee to moving a project along in terms of finance.
The other advantage of a PCC compared to an NHBC warranty is that generally an architect or an architecture firm is putting their own reputation on the line as a guarantor of service and build quality, and this often means better efficiency and problem solving. Our experience in issuing architect’s certificates at Lapworth Architects for projects around Birmingham and the West Midlands has been exactly this, as they often get financial or legal processes moving efficiently.
What's the advantage of an architect's certificate/PCC?
Essentially, one of scale – it is a commercial reality that many developments across the UK are undertaken by very small developers or self builders who complete relatively few projects. The Professional Consultants Certificate operates as a viable way to secure funding in these kinds of projects.
PCCs are also usually more economical than an NHBC warranty as there is no premium element compared to a structural warranty or latent defects insurance product – which is rarely needed on smaller projects anyway. This means a small developer or self builder can save over 50% on the cost of the certification while still meeting the lender’s requirements for raising financing.
PCCs may also be used in cases where a warranty has been granted, but the provider is no longer in business.
It’s worth mentioning that a PCC is not suitable for larger, mixed-use developments.
How Lapworth can help you with an architect’s certificate
If you’re looking to start a small development, have a self-build home or if you’re converting a larger property into flats, then a PCC is the best choice for you to accredit your project. Our 20-year experience and chartered architects can provide you with a Professional Consultants Certificate, giving you the confidence you need to move forward. If you need an architect’s certificate in Birmingham or the West Midlands, then come and talk to us. Give us a call on 0121 455 0032 for your no-obligation consultation.
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