Non-standard construction home insurance

Nobody likes to think of their homes, or themselves for that matter, as ‘standard’. But when it comes to home insurance, ordinary, normal and completely predictable are all very good - at least when it comes to finding a deal on your policy. 

But what if your dwelling is more unusual? There are several criteria that may classify your home as a “non-standard construction”, which can affect how insurance providers looks at your home insurance application. And it’s not as unusual as you might think… Here’s your need to know guide.

Nobody likes to think of their homes, or themselves for that matter, as ‘standard’. But when it comes to home insurance, ordinary, normal and completely predictable are all very good - at least when it comes to finding a deal on your policy. 

But what if your dwelling is more unusual? There are several criteria that may classify your home as a “non-standard construction”, which can affect how insurance providers looks at your home insurance application. And it’s not as unusual as you might think… Here’s your need to know guide.

Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
3
minute read
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Last Updated 17 MARCH 2022

What is a non-standard construction?

A non-standard home is one that’s built from non-typical materials or outdated construction methods. These sorts of homes are not normally covered by standard home insurance

But with centuries of house building under our collective belts, they’re not as unusual as you might assume. They can include, for example:

  •  Listed buildings – listed buildings have their own specialist insurance
  •  Steel or timber-framed buildings
  • Alternative construction materials – these include some cladding, flint, straw bale, cob, wattle and daub, grass and peat turf walls
  • Roof material - a thatched, plastic, rubber or shingle roof can mean you need non-standard home insurance
  • Flat roof homes
  • Modular and pre-fabricated homes - such as HUF HAUS

There are currently around 1.5 million concrete prefabricated homes in the UK - mostly put up after the Second World War to provide affordable homes for families who lost their houses in the Blitz. 

And around 60,000 UK homes are still topped by a thatched roof. In fact, that number is increasing as some new properties are being built with thatch. 

As is so often the case, insurance providers each have their own rules on what exactly non-standard means. Some may think a property that has been underpinned - a construction method for properties that are suffering from current or previous subsidence - is non-standard and others won’t, for example.

Why do I need non-standard construction insurance? 

Non-standard properties can be more expensive to insure. This is because replacing or repairing certain aspects of a building is likely to be more expensive in non-standard construction. This could lead to higher claims costs due to the expense of materials and labour. 

At the same time, more ongoing maintenance might be needed for a non-standard construction home and the materials could be more prone to damage, increasing risk. The number of tradesmen who have the expertise to maintain or repair non-standard properties may also be smaller, enabling them to charge higher fees. Finally, the processes may take longer, making it more expensive to repair a non-standard construction property.

Your circumstances and situation can also sometimes mean that you need specialist, non-standard house insurance. If you’re bankrupt, away from the property for extended periods or have other particular needs, it could be the best option.

What do you need to tell your insurance provider if you live in a non-standard building?

For starters, don’t panic. You won’t need to know off the top of your head if your home is classified as non-standard. It’s not even your responsibility to work it out. 

The questions you’re asked when getting a quote will capture all the information needed for a provider to decide whether or not to offer you a policy and how much to charge. 

As long as you can tell them the facts about your home, such as what it’s made of, when it was built and if it’s listed, the insurance provider will decide if they classify it as non-standard or not. 

If you’re not sure what your home is made of, have a look at the deeds or ask your estate agent/landlord if you rent.

And when asking for a non-standard construction home insurance quote, remember some concrete and prefab – or prefabricated reinforced concrete (PRC) homes (such as Hawksley PRC houses) – have a brick façade. 

And make sure you have any necessary documents to help your insurance application. For example, if you live in a thatched property that’s had a fire-retardant spray applied to the roof, make sure you keep the certificate. 

Keep any treatment or electrical/gas check certificates in a safe place. If you’re buying a non-standard home, make sure you get these from the vendor.

How can you work out how much it will cost to rebuild a non-standard property?

When it comes to buildings insurance, part of your premium is based on how much your property would cost to rebuild.

We’ve said that non-standard property materials could be harder to source or the methods of construction be less commonly used. This may result in specialists being required to help with construction, which could push up the rebuild cost. 

If you’re not sure how much it would cost to rebuild your property, don’t worry, we’ll help you with this when you get a quote.

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