A guide to buildings insurance and your type of roof

Most of us take having a roof over our heads for granted and thinking about what it’s made of might seem irrelevant – as long as it keeps the warmth in and rain out. But the stuff your roof is made of could have an impact on your home insurance – so you might want to read this before you decide to upgrade to that chocolate box thatched cottage.

What different types of roof are there?

Most of us are too busy thinking about what’s going on inside the walls of a house rather than what’s up top. Chances are that if you live in a regular looking house then your roof will be made of a conventional roofing material such as slate, tile or concrete. Unconventional roof materials include metal, glass and thatch (unconventional by modern standards at least). While the majority of us don’t get a chance to dictate what our roofs are made of it’s worth noting simply to understand what impact it has on your insurance.

thatched roof

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How different roofs affect your buildings insurance

If your home and roof is made with standard building materials that are relatively inexpensive to buy, repair or install and are hard-wearing; then your building insurance premiums are likely to be less than for someone whose home is made with unconventional materials.

Non-standard or unconventional construction and materials might win your house some grand design award, but the accolade comes at a price. Unconventional materials are non-standard for a reason, thatch for example, relies on a skilled thatcher to install and the type of material used (traditionally water reed) can be expensive. Thatch roofs also have a limited lifespan – usually a maximum of 25 years. Plus, although you can douse your roof with fire retardant; thatch is flammable.

Other alternative materials include glass – whilst common enough for windows, as a roof covering, it’s considered unconventional. The same goes for metal, whilst it can seem like an everyday material, as a roof on a residential property, it’s considered non-standard.

Your buildings insurance is there in case you have any repairs or need to build your house from scratch and your roof makes up a considerable part of that. So when it comes to working out your premiums, your insurance provider has to take into account material and labour costs along with any associated risks inherent in the materials used (such as increased fire risk with thatched roofs), such as its longevity or how desirable it is to thieves (such as with lead or copper roofing).

Flat roofs

Be clear with your insurance provider about any other roof type on your home – such as an extension or garage with a flat roof. These can come with their own set of problems such as asbestos (if exposed to the fibres these can cause ill health). Flat roofs, especially older ones, can be prone to sagging or damp if water doesn’t run off properly. Unfortunately, it’s often hard to spot that they need maintenance until water starts to come through – which can mean more work is required to fix them once the problem has been logged with your insurance provider. They also often have moss growing on them and require reasonably regular maintenance.

new house

Working out what you’ve got up top

Look up and see for yourself. It’ll be pretty obvious if you have a thatched roof and slate will usually be dark grey finished with metal edging and the roof will have to be at a pitch of 30° but for most of us, tiles or concrete will be used. Any home surveys you’ve commissioned should also tell you the materials with which your house is made of.

Be honest with your insurance provider

 Whatever roof you’ve got, you should always be honest with your insurance provider. Not only will little white lies go down like a lead balloon, you may be charged an increased premium, have special conditions applied to your policy via endorsements or also possibly invalidate your insurance policy or your claim so your insurance provider may not pay out for your claim. But whatever roof you have, make sure that you and all your lovely stuff inside is always safe as houses with buildings, contents or combined home insurancestart a quote online.

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