Understanding Insurance

Your guide to non-standard construction insurance

Home insurance is essential no matter the type of property you call home. But when your home is different to the standard bricks and mortar, finding the right home insurance can be difficult. Non-standard types of properties are not covered by standard home insurance and instead require non-standard home insurance.

Here at Dial Direct, we have put together a useful guide to help you understand the ins and outs of non-standard home insurance.

What is non-standard home insurance?

Non-standard home insurance is probably something you haven’t heard of before, but it’s important you understand it to make sure your home insurance is valid for your type of property.

When thinking of the classic image of a home, most of us would imagine a property made of bricks and mortar with a slate or tile roof. And this is true for insurance purposes. So, if your home differs from this in any way, it’s likely to be classed as a ‘non-standard construction’ and will need a different type of home insurance.

For a brief introduction to non-standard home insurance, watch our video:

What is a non-standard home?

If you take a walk around where you live, you’re bound to come across some weird and wonderful properties. These unusual houses are what would be classed as a non-standard home for the purposes of insurance.

The definition of a non-standard home tends to differ between insurance providers, but generally includes homes built from non-typical materials. But don’t be fooled into thinking these types of houses are rare, as some popular styles of home are non-standard homes. There are an endless list of types of non-standard homes, but let’s look at 10 examples:

 1. Thatched

The classic icon of rural England. The beloved thatched house is an ancient style of property, dating back to around 700 AD. Despite being around for so long, the style remains popular with over 60,000 thatched properties in Britain today. So why are they classed as non-standard? Due to the risk of fire to thatched properties and how extensive any fire damage would be, this makes it more costly to repair in the event of an insurance claim.

2. Cob

Far from being a type of bread, cob properties are an ancient style of construction dating back around 10,000 years. They are built using a mixture of sandy soil, clay and straw. Although less prominent than thatched houses, cob houses can be found primarily in the South of England. They remain relatively specialised as few builders are skilled in cob construction, which makes it more difficult for insurers to calculate the cost of rebuilding the property.

 3. Clunch

These are a style of traditional building made from chalky limestone found mainly in the East of England. Newer clunch properties are rare, but older clunch homes still exist. Due to the fact they are so unusual, they are classed as a non-standard home.

 4. Bungaroosh

Bungaroosh is a method of construction mostly found in Sussex. It consists mainly of lime, but also includes pebbles, sand and broken bricks. It is well-known to be a weak method of construction which has poor resistance to water, and can become fragile. As a result, this makes it a concern for insurers.

 5. Pre-fab

This style of house is usually built separately off-site, then transferred to the site of the house. Prefab homes were popular following WWII, but due to the way they are constructed any damage requires replacing whole sections of the structure. This can make them quite expensive to repair.

 6.   Steel framed

Steel framed properties are hailed for being easy to build, lightweight and affordable. However the steel frames are not flame resistant and softens in high temperatures, which makes the property difficult to insure.

 7. Timber framed

The use of timber frames in the construction of houses is a reliable, widely-used method, but their use does not automatically mean the property is classed as a non-standard home. Some older buildings which are timber-framed are in fact classed as standard due to how sturdy and safe the property is. If you believe your home is timber-framed, check this with your insurer or a surveyor.

 8. Eco homes

If you have watched some episodes of Grand Designs, you’ll have seen an eco home or two. Eco homes have grown in popularity thanks to the recent focus on climate change and the environment. They tend to use environmentally-friendly materials, e.g. grass roofs, which renders them non-standard.

 9. Flat roofs

Flat roofs are exactly what the name suggests. They tend to be considered as non-standard due to the risk of weather damage. As there is a high risk of flat roofs leaking, these are classed as non-standard homes. However, if the flat roof is no more than 20% of the overall property, your insurer may still class your home as standard and allow you to take out a standard home insurance policy.

10. Listed buildings

A building is classed as listed to protect its historical and architectural interest. If a building dates back before 1700 and remains in its original condition, it is listed. The reason that listed buildings require non-standard home insurance is because of the extra rules and regulations which govern any repairs to the building.

Is non-standard home insurance more expensive?

It is not a given that you’ll pay more for non-standard home insurance compared to standard, however it is likely. Premiums tend to be higher for non-standard home insurance due to the higher risk factors involved in insuring those properties. For example, the risk of fire with thatched roofs and risk of water damage with flat roofs. Other properties, like the older traditional properties, are more difficult for the insurance companies to work out the sum assured (total amount you are insured for).

For these reasons, it is important that you are honest and transparent when purchasing your home insurance, otherwise your insurance could be invalid. If you are unsure whether your home is non-standard, you may need the help of a surveyor.

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