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When you think of a house in the UK, the chances are your thoughts will turn to a brick building with a tiled roof, after all this is the form the majority of UK homes take. However, there are plenty of homes which do not follow this formula, from those with thatched roofs to glass walls, and as such are not covered by a standard property insurance policy. If your home does not fit into the standard criteria, then you will require a specialist non-standard property insurance policy.
Some people set out to deliberately build their property from unusual materials for all sorts of different reasons, from aesthetics to environmental concerns. However, for others they will not realise their property falls into the non-standard category until it is time for them to purchase an insurance policy, or worse still when they try make a claim on their policy and realise their standard property insurance is actually inadequate and they have left themselves underinsured.
If it isn’t bricks and mortar, the chances are it is classed as a non standard material.
Examples of this include:
Below, we have laid out a list of the most common forms of non standard property found in the UK.
This technique dates back over 5,000 years and has become popular again in recent years as it is a truly sustainable method of building.
First, timber framework is constructed. Grooves are then cut into the beams and wooden splines are inserted between, vertically and parallel to each other, before thin reeds are used to close the gaps by weaving them between the splines. This comprises the wattle.
Daub is a mixture of mud, straw and animal dung, which is pressed in from both sides of wood, drying to create a solid wall and making the building somewhat weatherproof.
Another similar but older method is to use Cob, a mixture of sand, straw and clay. There are thousands of homes across the UK built using this technique, and it has recently seen a renaissance in Devon where the soil is perfect for making cob.
Any repairs will need to be undertaken by a specialist.
Modern masonry homes typically have an inner supporting wall built with concrete blocks and an outer supporting wall made of bricks. A timber framed home replaces this inner wall with timber instead, which is still strong enough to support the load of the whole house. Which
The outer wall is often clad in brick which can give the building the appearance of a typical brick built home. Other forms of cladding include stone, block and render, or plain timber boarding.
This is one of the most common forms of home construction in the world, except for in the UK where only around 8% of buildings use this technique, therefore making it qualify as a non standard property.
Steel frames revolutionized the building process, allowing for construction on a scale which was impossible before and reducing the building cost. It was this technique which led to skyscrapers becoming a common feature of city skylines the world over.
The advantage this method has over timber frames is that steel is not combustible and is immune from rot or decay as it is not an organic material. However, be aware that in some older steel framed houses, asbestos may have been used as insulation. If you think your house could fall into this category, have your house checked by a professional for any signs of asbestos as this could be deadly in the long run.
Also known as prefabs, these were originally built in the 1950s to address the housing crisis which hit post-war Britain. Fast forward 60 years, and there are now over 1.2 million of these homes in the UK and they have come a long way since the days of an impersonal box split into 2 rooms.
Modern prefabs can be vast, offering multiple stories and even basements. Each section or module is constructed off site in a factory before being delivered and constructed on site, which speeds up the build and keeps down the costs.
They also have environmental benefits compared with traditional building techniques.
This traditional technique is still practiced today. It uses layers of dry vegetation including straw, water reed, sedge, heather or rushes to direct water away from the inner roof.
One of the main reasons this requires a non standard policy is the risk of fire is far greater than with a regular tiled roof.
When speaking to your insurer, you must tell them precisely what your roof is made from. If you are unsure, it is best to contact a thatched roof specialist.
Traditional sloping roofs often result in wasted space both inside and out, which is one of the advantages of flat roofs. Depending on the construction, it can provide you with a great, private outdoor space.
However, from an insurers perspective, they are more prone to leaking and as such pose a higher risk. Luckily, flat roofs are easy to inspect and you should do so on a regular basis, checking for any cracks or leaks, as these can turn into serious problems very quickly.
Shingles are flat rectangular shapes which are laid in rows across the roof from the bottom upwards. Each layer overlaps the joint with the previous one, making it water tight. Older shingle roofs use copper or lead sheeting as underlays, whereas more modern ones will have a layer of plastic.
Over the years a variety of different materials have been used for the shingles, including wood, asbestos-cement, slate, asphalt shingle (paper soaked in bitumen then covered in aggregate) ceramic or composite. Asphalt shingles with a fibreglass-base are the most popular choice today, as they are less of a fire risk than shingles with wood or paper bases.
A listed building is an object or structure that has been placed on the UK Statutory List of Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest.
Data from 2016 shows there were over 375,000 listed buildings in England. There are 3 levels:
Generally speaking, the older your home is the higher the chance it will fall into one of the above categories.
As they are protected by law you will still require special permission to make any repairs or alterations to the building, and will more than likely be required to use very specific, and usually very expensive, materials so that the repairs are in keeping with the rest of the building.
Which is why standard property insurance will not provide you with sufficient cover.
If you live in an area that is particularly prone to subsidence or at a high risk of flooding you will require non-standard property insurance, regardless of what material the building is constructed from.
This is because claims associated with these things are usually very high, hence the higher price of premiums in affected areas.
Be honest with you insurer about what materials your property is built from, as otherwise you could invalidate the insurance which would be a disaster if you had to make a claim.
The more unusual the property, the trickier it will be to insure and the higher the price of the premium. This is because the cost of the rebuild will be greater than a regular building, and the risks are harder for the insurer to assess.
If your home is left empty for a prolonged period of time, you will need to buy a specific unoccupied property policy.
The same applies if you are trying to insure a holiday home; you will need holiday home insurance.
Get in touch with our team today to find which of our partners has the right non standard property insurance policy for you!