Home insurance for non-standard properties

If you live in a house with a thatched roof or go away for more than 30 days at a time, insurance providers may consider you ‘non-standard’. Find out here what that means for your premium.

If you live in a house with a thatched roof or go away for more than 30 days at a time, insurance providers may consider you ‘non-standard’. Find out here what that means for your premium.

Chris King
From the Home team
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Posted 25 FEBRUARY 2020

What is a non-standard home?

As far as some insurance providers are concerned, a non-standard home is one that’s built from non-typical materials. A standard home in the UK is usually one built from brick or stone with a tile or slate roof. Non-standard homes are those that don't use those typical building materials. These can include: 

  • steel or timber-framed buildings
  • modular and pre-fabricated homes such as HUF HAUS
  • listed buildings
  • cob (a centuries-old building material made from clay mixed with water and straw, about 600mm thick and built in layers, often found in Cumbria and the South West of England)
  • wattle and daub – daub is similar to cob, but the daub is used to fill in a woven lattice of wooden strips called the wattle. This is the most common earth construction in the UK
  • straw bale
  • flint
  • grass and peat turf walls, mostly found in Scotland
  • alternative cladding.

The roof material can also affect your home insurance. A thatched, plastic, rubber or shingle roof can mean you need non-standard home insurance.

We can’t say exactly what all insurance providers consider as non-standard because it’s likely to differ – some may think a property that’s been underpinned is non-standard and others won’t, for example.

Non-standard buildings are more common than you might think. There are currently around 1.5 million concrete prefabricated homes in the UK. These were mostly put up after the Second World War to provide affordable homes for families who had lost their houses in the Blitz.

Around 60,000 UK homes are topped by a thatched roof, and that number is increasing as some new properties are being built with thatch.

Insurance for a non-standard property

If your property is non-standard, you’ll still be able to find cover. But you’ll need to find an insurance provider who’s happy to provide non-standard construction home insurance. We compare a wide range of the UK’s leading insurance providers to help you find the right policy.

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.

Why can non-standard properties be more expensive to insure?

Non-standard properties can be more expensive to insure 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.

With non-standard building materials, more ongoing maintenance might be needed and the materials could be more prone to damage, increasing risk.

  • Building materials may be expensive, hard to come by, or more vulnerable to fire or water damage.
  • The number of tradesmen who have the expertise to maintain or repair non-standard properties may be small, enabling them to charge higher fees.
  • Processes may take longer, making it more costly to repair a non-standard construction property.

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

You won’t need to know off the top of your head if your home is classified as non-standard. 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 was 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.

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.

Also, 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 safely. 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.

If your property is made from non-standard materials, they 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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