Peace of mind is a crucial part of the Construction Sector, particularly when new builds or significant remodelling is involved. GM Business Connect met recently with Adele Reid, managing director of Altrincham-based ABC+ Warranty. The company specialises in structural warranties and certificates for both the residential and commercial sector, along with a range of many other ancillary services.
Adele – can you share with us the history of ABC+ and how you developed as a business?
“Just over 30 years ago our surveying history was started by then Managing Director Trevor Bartlett. Over the years the business has grown steadily, and became ABC+ Warranty in 2011. We currently have 50 colleagues with plans for further growth. Trevor has now taken over the role of Technical Director and I’ve taken the reins of Managing Director, and we can count our customers over the years in the 10’s of thousands. We operate from our headquarters in Altrincham, and from here process all enquiries. We deal directly with Developers, Builders, Self-builders, Mortgage Brokers, Finance Suppliers, Solicitors and Estate Agents, and for site monitoring supervision we operate a team of dedicated Regional Surveyors who cover the entire UK.”
What services do you offer?
“Uniquely ABC+ are the only Royal Institute Chartered Surveyors (RICS) registered structural warranty company in the UK, which means our inspections are subject to the highest standards demanded by RICS. This provides peace of mind to both homeowners and lenders when buying properties certificated to ABC+ standards. We provide a 10 or 12 Year Structural Warranty, and also a half price alternative known as the 6 Year Professional Consultants Certificate which importantly still allows the property sale to proceed. Without these types of certificates, new build and converted dwellings would not be able to be purchased or sold in the UK. It also provides a way to claim against structural defects within the property up to a period of 12 years following completion of works.
“The warranties and certificates we provide are also suitable for those purchasing their homes under the government’s Help to Buy scheme and acceptable for Housing Associations. We’re also very aware of the many and varied costs that have to be met when going through the process of buying and selling properties, and as such promise to beat any other structural warranty quotation. We also don’t charge membership fees, renewal fees, holding bonds or any other hidden costs unlike most other warranty providers. As a competitive business we also need to be quick with results from our surveys, and our RICS Surveyors have created a unique surveying app made available to our National Surveying Team. This means that our clients are able to receive a copy of their Survey reports within a matter of hours following their inspections. We’re also quick with our quotes, offering a 60 second quote service following completion of a short form found on our website: www.architectscertificate.co.uk
“To support our warranties and certificates we also offer a comprehensive range of services for both the residential and commercial sector, including a range of insurances, building control, road bonds, architectural services, stage payment certificates and site inspections.”
How were you and your customers affected by COVID restrictions?
“ABC+ remained fully operational during the national lockdowns. Everyone worked from either our offices or from home, observing safe working guidelines at all times. We are actually classed as critical workers under two categories: ‘Financial Services’ and ‘Construction – as Surveyors’. We also assisted the Government in writing the COVID ‘Back to Work’ office safety guidelines to assist people returning to work in a safe office environment following the first lockdown.
“Our Altrincham offices were amongst one of the first businesses in the UK to be fully certified COVID safe. We provided screens for desks, hand sanitising stations, masks, COVID signage, floor markers, COVID testing for staff and temperature checks. Also, our surveyors have been following the highest level of safety guidelines on the front line throughout COVID to ensure that clients’ projects were able to continue safely and without interruption. We supported this by creating the ‘Safe Site Inspections’ guidelines for clients and surveyors to protect all involved whilst conducting full site inspections.”
You mentioned you assisted the government in writing COVID guidelines for returning office-based businesses – how active are you in your own sector and what do you do to support it?
“Like many businesses we quickly adapted to virtual working, and that included virtual tradeshows – The Virtual Winter Homebuilding & Renovating Show in January and more recently as headline sponsor at the Grand Designs Live ‘Ask An Expert’ Weekend at the end of May. ABC+ were interviewed by celebrity property expert Kunle Barker. Our objective is to educate self-builders and property developers on the necessity of a structural warranty for new build homes or developments.
“Our team are also very ambitious with one of our core objectives to raise the construction standards of workmanship amongst developers and contractors. We have provided advice to the Construction Minister and to the New Homes Quality Board who are appointing a New Homes Ombudsman. This will cement consumer confidence when investing in UK property and generate more trust and accountability across the entire sector. ABC+ are also construction expert speakers, and provide advice at many of the UK construction shows (albeit, currently virtually).”
As a business, how supportive of your local community are you?
“We strongly advocate supporting local businesses and services, also we are a main sponsor of Altrincham Grammar School for boys, which enables children from all backgrounds to be recognised for outstanding talents in many different sporting and educational events and competitions. We’re also very conscious that school leavers have been hugely impacted with the lack of jobs currently available since leaving school last Summer. ABC+ wanted to show their support, and so appointed two local school leavers who are being fully supported by ourselves via an apprenticeship scheme on a RICS 5 year degree course, in collaboration with the local University of Salford.
“Our principal Surveyor is also a weekly attendee of the local ‘Grafters’ networking groups which support a large majority of construction trades specialists. The company sponsors local charity, The Children’s Adventure Farm Trust (CAFT), which provides a safe and fun environment for the terminally ill, disabled and disadvantaged children in the North West.”
How important is accreditation for you as a business?
“We find it crucial to follow strict industry guidelines from a safety and reassurance perspective for our clients. Following the guidance set by RICS as the only structural warranty business in the UK, the accreditation gives us real credibility and reassures our customers and lenders that they can relax in the knowledge that our warranties and certificates are of the highest standards. We are accredited by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Structural Timber Association (STA), Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT), and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). We are also Stroma certified.”