Meet The Team: Henry Plaster
Having joined One Guarantee at its inception in 2017, Associate Director Henry Plaster has lots of experience in the world of property development. Here he shares his insights on his role and where he thinks key sector developments will occur in the future.
How long have you worked for One Guarantee?
I’ve been at One Guarantee since we launched 5 years ago and it’s been a fantastic journey so far. We’re an evolving company of highly experienced, enthusiastic people who provide a first-rate service to our clients. Over the years I’ve witnessed One Guarantee grow from a team of 3 to 10 now being involved in the business!
What are your favourite aspects of your role?
Quite simply, it’s the people. Although some areas of insurance have been taken over by robots, the structural warranty and latent defects insurance sector is still very much dependent on human interaction and decisions. The policies we arrange are often complex and bespoke to the development in question and a large part of our warranty involves the monitoring of the build, known as the technical audit process, which means that I am frequently liaising with our surveyors.
Another of my favourite aspects is the real sense of accomplishment you get when a project reaches practical completion. I love knowing that I’ve played a role in the development and eventual sale of a property.
What makes the building warranty and latent defects insurance sector so different from regular insurance?
There are two distinct differences from your typical insurances, such as employers’ liability, motor and household policies. The first is that our policies are not renewable. Our policies start from legal completion of the property and run for a period of 10 or 12 years.
Secondly, developers take out warranties for the benefit of the future homeowner, so in effect the ‘insured’ play absolutely no role in the buying process. While not mandatory, warranty insurance on newly built properties is a requirement for UK mortgage lenders, who will not lend unless a recognised warranty is in place.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I am fortunate to be able to divide my time between working from home and going into the office either in London or Norwich. It’s crucial under this new way of working that our team communicates regularly, so a typical morning starts with a group call.
I try to keep my day as structured as possible although urgent matters inevitably crop up. I’m a keen advocate of visiting our clients and suppliers in person so I can often be found in my high-vis on a construction site.
Exercise is also very important to me, so I’ll try to start the day with a swim or round it up with a ride on my road bike after work.
What are your clients’ biggest challenges?
Believe it or not, Covid-19 was not as much of a challenge for our clients as initially expected. The construction sector was fortunate to largely remain open during the lockdowns, albeit at reduced capacity.
The biggest challenge at present is therefore the shortage of material and labour, which is creating delays and severe price increases. Many of our clients are small-to-medium-sized developers or housebuilders and these shortages appear to be affecting nearly all of them.
Where do you see the industry 10 years from now?
The move to low carbon, efficient and sustainable development is inevitable. We have already seen this in action with the growth of modular builds and Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).
While MMC is a welcome form of construction from the warranty sector’s perspective, it does bring with it a different type of risk from standard latent defect claims. Because the majority of the structure is designed, produced and assembled in a factory, much of the surveying process takes place there. MMC also introduces systemic risk; in other words, the risk of common defects among multiple properties. The warranty industry has therefore been forced to adapt to MMC as it's certainly not going away.