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Timber-framed building insurance

If your home has eco-conscious wooden frames, you could find that you need specialist insurance. Here’s everything you need to know about insuring timber-framed homes.

Why do I need timber-framed house insurance?

You may need specialist timber-framed house insurance because wooden houses are considered more of an insurance risk than those built from brick or stone.

Timber homes are eco-friendly, cheap to build and could save you money on central heating. Unfortunately, they could come with an increased risk of fire. Timber-framed homes can also suffer from damp, rot and pest infestations, such as beetles and woodworm.

Although timber-framed buildings have been around for centuries, some insurance providers still consider them ‘non-standard’. Other providers refuse to insure them or will only do so for a hefty price.

But construction techniques have evolved, making sustainable timber-framed homes fast to build and more durable than they used to be. Fire-proofing and damp-proofing techniques have also improved, which means modern timber-framed homes could be no more expensive to insure than any other building.

Do wattle and daub panels make a difference to my timber-framed house insurance?

Properties with wattle and daub panels can be more expensive to insure than other homes. This is because fewer insurance providers cover this type of historic property so there’s less competition around price. Some providers won’t insure timber-framed properties with plaster panels – including period wattle-and-daub buildings.

This type of property could be expensive to repair as it requires specialist skills and materials. This is even more likely if the property is listed and needs to be faithfully restored.

Wattle and daub has some advantages, though. Like timber frames, it’s flexible – the infill panels move with the building – so doesn’t suffer from some of the problems associated with fixed structures.

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

Timber-framed homes have obvious appeal, but can pose a greater risk when it comes to insurance. Potential issues include:

Fire

Even with modern fire-proofing regulations, timber is a fast-burning material and a major fire risk. Before agreeing to insure the property, your insurance provider may ask you to add fire prevention measures, such as a fire alarm and fire-retardant systems like sprinklers.

If you’re considering buying a timber-framed property, be clear on what fire-safety measures are in place.

Decayed timber

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

Flood damage

Timber-framed buildings are more vulnerable to water damage than 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.

How can I keep timber-framed house insurance costs down?

To keep your home protected – and your insurance costs down – make sure your property is in good repair and deal promptly with any issues.

You could help prevent damp by making sure gutters aren’t blocked or leaking, and make sure you have good ventilation, too. Check your wood regularly as some pests are attracted to rotten wood.

To get your insurance application approved, you may need to put fire prevention measures in place, such as fire alarms, extinguishers and sprinkler systems. Having the most up-to-date technology could lower the cost of your premium.

Always compare what’s on offer to get the cover you need at the right price.

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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 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, we’ll need to know:

  • What type of home it is
  • When it was built and if it’s listed
  • 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 trees close to the property
  • If there’s subsidence or cracks in the external walls
  • If the property has been flooded.
Author image Helen Phipps

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.”

- Helen Phipps, Insurance comparison expert

Frequently asked questions

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

Timber-framed homes have a number of advantages:

  • Quick to build – the timber frame is manufactured off-site, so can be erected quickly.
  • Eco-friendly – materials are often sustainably sourced and readily available. Timber is a renewable material and produces far less CO2 than brick or concrete. It absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere and stores it, helping cut the greenhouse effect.
  • Energy-efficient – timber is a natural insulator, so your home will heat more quickly and you’ll use less energy.
  • More predictable build costs – pre-built homes can offer more price certainty because factory costs tend to fluctuate less than building on-site.

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

Timber-framed flats are rare, but do exist. Some historical timber-framed buildings are divided into flats and growing numbers of purpose-built, low-rise flats are being constructed with timber frames.

Some architect-designed, high-rise flats are timber-framed and nicknamed ‘plyscrapers’. Taller blocks of timber flats are likely to become more commonplace as the demand for sustainable materials grows.

If you’re buying property, be sure to check what materials it’s built from. This should be made clear in your home survey. You’ll need to state your home’s construction materials when you buy buildings insurance.

What will my policy cover me for?

What exactly your insurance policy covers will vary, depending on your provider. That’s why it’s so important to read the small print. Some policies cover insect damage and rot, for instance, while others won’t.

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

It’s important to tell your provider as much as possible about your home when you apply for insurance, so you can get the right cover. You’ll need to tell them:

  • That your home is timber-framed – some insurance providers won’t cover non-standard houses
  • How your property was built – timber-framed homes can be self-built, eco-home designs or listed buildings of wattle and daub. When getting a quote with us, we’ll ask whether your timber-framed building has plaster panels.
  • Whether your property has foundations – you’ll need to let your insurance provider know if your timber-framed home was built without a foundation. This could increase your premium, as timber-framed homes without foundations can be more vulnerable to subsidence.

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

To get an up-to-date rebuild cost for homes built with non-standard construction materials, you may need to contact a chartered surveyor.

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

You can get landlord insurance for timber-framed homes. But you might have fewer options to choose from.

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

Yes, you can get insurance for your self-build timber-frame house. It may be worth talking to insurance providers before you start construction. They can recommend ways to make the construction more durable and reduce risks to the property.

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

If your log cabin has a permanent address, you can compare home insurance at Comparethemarket. If it doesn’t have a permanent address, you’ll need specialist insurance.

Let your insurance provider know if your cabin was treated with fire-retardant protection when it was built. You’ll need to make sure your cabin has decent security locks on doors and windows, too.

If you rent out your log cabin as a holiday home, it’s worth considering public liability insurance. This covers you if a guest injures themselves on your property and makes a compensation claim. You might also want to consider cover for loss of rental if a fire or flood makes the cabin unusable.

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

It may do. Thatched roofs also need specialist insurance as they’re considered a greater fire risk. You might be asked to take certain fire precautions and keep the roof maintained.

Thatched-roof properties are more expensive to rebuild than conventional houses because they require specialist materials and labour. This is likely to mean your insurance costs more.

Insuring a home with a thatched roof

Page last reviewed on 12 MAY 2023
by Helen Phipps