Timber-framed building insurance

Why do timber-framed homes need specialist insurance?

Timber-framed houses are still sometimes seen as a more of an insurance risk compared to houses built from brick or stone. While this type of home is extremely eco-friendly, cheap to build and has the potential to save you money on central heating, historically they’ve had an increased risk of fire. This could cause particularly costly damage to the structure and contents of your home.

Timber-framed homes could also fall victim to problems from damp, rot and pest infestations, such as beetles and woodworm.

Despite the fact that timber-framed buildings have been traditional in the UK for centuries, some insurance providers still consider them ‘non-standard’ – and a small minority refuse to insure them or will only do so with a hefty price tag attached.

Nowadays, construction techniques have evolved, making sustainable timber-framed homes fast to build and a lot more durable and less vulnerable than they used to be. For example, the regulations around fire-proofing and damp-proofing (including the techniques used in both) have improved. As a result, modern timber-framed homes can be no more expensive to insure than any other type of building.

And that’s why comparing and finding an insurance provider with experience of this kind of property could potentially save on your premiums. So, let us do the hard work of investigating the market for you.

Do wattle and daub panels make a difference when insuring historic timber-framed houses?

Yes, they can, because fewer insurance providers cover this type of historic property so there’s less competition around price. Some providers shy away from insuring timber-framed properties with plaster panels, including period wattle-and-daub buildings, as they could be centuries old. This type of property could be more expensive to repair if damaged as specialist skills and materials may be required, particularly if the property is listed and needs to be faithfully restored.

But wattle and daub has some advantages for timber-framed buildings too. Its flexibility matches that of timber frames – the infill panels move with the building so can help avoid some of the problems that more fixed structures have.

My timber-framed property also has a thatched roof. Will that make a difference?

Potentially, yes. Thatched roofs also need specialist insurance as they’re considered a greater fire risk. You might be asked to take particular fire precautions and keep the roof periodically maintained.

The rebuild cost of a thatched-roof property will also be more expensive than a conventional house because specific materials are needed and the work must be carried out by a specialist thatcher.

See more on insuring a home with a thatched roof

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Get insurance for your timber-framed home

Compare quotes today for your timber-framed home to find a great-value deal. Give us a few details and we’ll gather a variety of quotes from some of the UK’s most respected home insurance providers.

What do I need to get a quote?

As well as personal details and the address of the property, you’ll need to give us the following information:

  • What type of home it is
  • When it was built and if it’s a listed building
  • How long you’ve lived there
  • The construction of the property, for example, what the walls and roof are made from
  • Whether the property is in a good state of repair or if any building work is being done
  • If there are any trees close to the property
  • If there is subsidence or cracks in the external walls
  • If the property has been flooded.

We’ll also ask whether you want to insure your home contents too.

Chris King

Home insurance expert

What our expert says

“Timber-framed buildings can vary from modern, sustainable, system-built homes to ancient Tudor-built properties, each special in their own way. Compare expert providers, with experience of dealing with timber-framed buildings, to find competitively priced insurance that suits the build and age of your home.” 

Frequently asked questions

What are the benefits of owning a timber-framed house?

Apart from the aesthetic appeal, a timber-framed home has a number of benefits: 

  • Quick to build – the timber frame is manufactured off-site, then erected in less time than brick or stone buildings. Off-site fabrication can also offer higher quality-controlled results than a construction site.
  • Eco-friendly – materials used to construct timber-framed buildings are often sustainably sourced and readily available. Timber is a renewable material and produces far less CO2 than traditional brick or concrete. Timber also absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere then stores it, helping to cut down on the greenhouse effect.
  • Energy-efficient – timber is a natural insulator, which means your home is quicker to heat up and you’ll typically use less energy on heating.
  • Build costs more predictable – although the cost of a pre-designed timber home can be higher than other construction materials, it could offer more price certainty because factory costs tend to fluctuate less than building on-site.

What are the insurance risks of a timber-framed home?

While the appeal of timber-framed homes is understandable, they can pose a greater risk when it comes to insurance.

Fire

Even with modern fire-proofing regulations, timber is still considered a fast-burning material and therefore a major fire risk. Your insurance provider may ask you to take fire prevention measures before agreeing to insure the property – for example, installing a fire alarm and having fire-retardant systems in place.
If you’re considering buying a timber-framed property, make sure you understand what fire-safety measures are already in place.

Decayed timber

Timber retains moisture that could lead to decay over time, causing rot and beetle infestation. This can be a problem in period properties, especially if they haven’t been properly maintained over the years.

Flood damage

Timber-framed buildings are more vulnerable to water damage than traditional brick-built homes. You might find it more expensive to get flood insurance, especially if your timber-framed home is in a high flood-risk area.

Read our guide on how to protect your home from flooding.

Will I pay more for timber-framed home insurance?

Because of the higher risk levels, you may find it more expensive to insure a timber-framed home. When calculating the cost of your timber-framed home insurance, underwriters will consider several factors, including:

  • The rebuild cost of your home
  • The likelihood of you making a claim
  • Your claims history.

But the cost can also depend on the insurance provider you choose. Just because your home might be classed as non-standard doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a competitive quote.

The ideal way to make sure you get a good price for timber-framed home insurance is to compare quotes with us.

Are flats ever timber-framed or is it just houses?

Yes, they can be. Some old, historical timber-framed buildings can be divided into flats and growing numbers of purpose-built, low-rise flats are being constructed with timber frames. There are even some modern high-rise flats that are timber-framed, including a nine-storey block in Hackney, London. Other projects are also now appearing round the world, for example, in Australia and Sweden. Taller blocks of timber flats seem likely to become more common as the need for new homes and demand for use of more sustainable materials grows.

If you’re buying property, it’s a good idea to make sure you understand what materials the building is constructed from. This should be made clear in your home survey. You’ll need to state what your home is made from when you apply for buildings insurance.

What will my policy cover me for?

This will vary from provider to provider, so it’s important to read the fine print when assessing a quote. Some might provide cover for insect damage and rot, while others won’t. The same goes for subsidence and heave. If your timber-framed home doesn’t have a foundation, you may have difficulty finding an insurance provider who will cover you for these risks.

What information do I need to provide when applying for non-standard home insurance?

It’s essential to clearly state that your home is timber-framed, as some insurance providers won’t offer cover for non-standard houses.

Timber-framed homes can vary hugely between self-built, eco-home designs to listed buildings of wattle and daub. It’s important to tell your provider as much as possible about your home when you apply, to make sure you get the right cover. For example, when getting a quote with us, we’ll ask whether your timber-framed building has plaster panels.

You’ll also need to let the provider know if your timber-framed home was built without a foundation. This could increase your insurance premium, as timber-framed homes lacking a foundation could be more vulnerable to subsidence.

All of this information will make it possible for the insurance provider to supply you with their fairest quote.

How can I work out rebuild costs for my timber-frame home?

If you bought the property in the past five years, your home survey might include the rebuild cost. But if you’ve been living there for longer, you may need to get an up-to-date assessment.

If your home is built with non-standard construction materials, is a listed building or was built before 1720, you may need to consult a chartered surveyor for an up-to-date rebuild cost. It’s recommended that you do this at least every five years.

Can I get landlord insurance for a timber-framed home?

If you’re planning on renting out a timber-framed property, you can get insurance. However, you might have fewer options to choose from compared with a property made from what insurance providers consider standard materials.

I’m planning a self-build timber-frame house. Can I get insurance?

Yes, and it might even be worth talking to insurance providers before you start construction. They could advise you about what they’re looking for in terms of making the finished construction more durable and reducing risks to the property.

How can I keep insurance costs down for my timber-framed home?

Making sure that your property is in good repair – and problems are prevented or promptly dealt with – will help keep your home protected. It could also have a positive impact on insurance costs as insurance providers will ask you about the state of repair of your property.

You could help prevent damp by making sure gutters aren’t blocked or leaking, as well as using the right render materials alongside good ventilation. Make sure you check the wood regularly. Some pests are attracted to rotten wood, so avoiding this kind of damage could potentially reduce the chance of an infestation.

Fire prevention measures, such as fire alarms, extinguishers and sprinkler systems, could also help bring down the cost of your premium and might be necessary to get your insurance application approved.

Comparing what’s on offer from different providers can help make sure you get the cover you need at the right price.

I have a log cabin. Does this require specialist insurance?

If your home is a log cabin with a permanent address, then you can compare home insurance from the providers we offer at Comparethemarket. But if the cabin doesn’t have a permanent address, then you’ll need specialist insurance.

If your cabin was treated with fire-retardant protection when it was built, it’s worth letting your insurance provider know. Make sure your cabin is well-protected with appropriate security locks on doors and windows too.

If you rent out your log cabin as a holiday home, you should think about public liability insurance, in case a guest injures themselves on your property and tries to make a compensation claim against you. You might also want to consider cover for loss of rental if the cabin becomes unusable due to damage from fire or flood, for example.

Page last reviewed on 14/06/2022
by Helen Phipps