10 May 2023

Joe Gooden celebrates Build-Zone's 20 years in Structural Warranty and Latent Defects Insurance

By Build Zone

Build-Zone – the award-winning Structural Warranty provider and established significant force in providing Latent Defects Insurance across the UK and Ireland turns 20. They cater for 10 or 12-year Structural Warranty policies across Residential, Commercial, Social Housing, Mixed-Use, Build-to-Rent and Major Project spaces.

Build-Zone was established in 2003 as a trading style of Sennocke International Insurance Services as a specialist Structural Warranty provider. April 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the business that was acquired by Aston Lark in 2021.

We spoke with some of the senior management team at Build-Zone to look back over a period in which the business has established a key foothold in the construction insurance market, to understand what makes it so successful and to gain insight on the key changes they have experienced, and those on the horizon.

Here’s Joe Gooden – Director and Head of Broking & Business Development, reflecting on Build-Zone’s 20th anniversary.

Joe Gooden has worked for Build-Zone for 5 ½ years and has over 23 years of experience in the insurance sector; he is a Director of Sennocke and focuses on Major Projects.

What have been the key challenges in the structural warranty market over the last 20 years?

One of the biggest challenges we have to overcome relates to peoples’ understanding of what they are purchasing, so it comes down to how well-informed they are about the process and the product. The buying signals can be completely different depending on the customer. If you have got a smaller developer, they might just be looking for a quick sale, and they may be less interested in the financial strength and rating of the insurer behind a brand.

Whereas when you get into the Major Project space that I look after, so much more due diligence goes into those deals. The net widens, and you’re dealing with lawyers, accountants, funders, JV partners, etc., who usually look into the detail of the insurer’s security and the levels of cover they’re buying to ensure its suitability.

Other challenges stem from the development of MMC and how the future of these materials and techniques filters down to warranties. MMC has some fantastic benefits: the ability to build faster and reduce the number of on-site staff, which lessens the health & safety risk and the impact on carbon footprint reduction, but unlike traditional construction methods, some technical auditors are unfamiliar with such innovations, so our in-house technical team BZSS, ensure we work with those best suited to specific projects.

Do you think Build-Zone has made a lasting impact on the structural warranty industry?

“Celebrating our 20th birthday is a fantastic marker, especially in an industry where many providers don’t survive the 10 or 12 year policy periods. So that in itself is a major achievement. Our previous MD and founder, Paul, did a great job of building the business from scratch and has employed some excellent people throughout that period, many of whom are still with the business today. So in terms of the future, we’ve got a perfect base to continue building on”.

Over the last 20 years, we’ve grown in terms of the types of clients we’re dealing with and the types of project sizes we can underwrite. And generally, across the market, we are viewed as one of the key market leaders in our sectors. The plan is to continue recruiting the right people, drive the business forward, and ensure everyone knows who Build-Zone are.

The great thing is that the legacy is there and being built upon; we’ve still got work to do, which is a good thing as well because it keeps us on our toes and keeps it exciting.

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