Guide to insuring a timber-framed home
- Be honest and accurate with your insurer about the materials used to build your home
- Timber-framed buildings may be more vulnerable to flooding and fire
- Some timber-framed buildings may have been built without foundations, which may mean cover excludes subsidence, heave and landslip
Finding home insurance for timber-framed buildings can be a bit of a challenge due to providers perceiving them as a higher risk than other dwellings.
This is because, despite their ubiquity in the UK, timber-framed buildings may be classed by home insurers as being constructed from non-standard building materials.
This can be true if you live in a modern timber-framed property, constructed as a self-build or by a contractor, or in a wattle-and-daub Tudor cottage, or in a unique eco-home.
What's more, some insurers perceive timber-framed buildings as being more vulnerable to fire, which means some might not be able to provide cover and others may charge a higher premium.
This all means you might have less choice of home insurance quotes, and the prices asked for may be higher than for equivalent houses made with more standard construction techniques.
Insuring a timber-framed home
Covering a timber-framed property isn't always straightforward, and when you search for insurance it's important to declare what materials your home is made of so you can get the right policy for your needs.
Questions to answer
- Gocompare.com will ask if your home's built with a timber frame
- If so, select whether it's a timber frame with brick walls or a timber frame with plaster panels
If you enter Gocompare.com's home insurance comparison journey you'll be asked about the construction of your home and what your external walls are built with.
You'll be shown three options; brick, stone and other. If your home's constructed with a timber frame, click 'other'.
You'll then see a drop-down menu with a list of options, including timber frame with brick walls and timber frame with plaster panels.
It's important to be honest with your insurer about the construction of your home. If you get it wrong and need to claim in the future, you could find that your insurance is invalid.
While the brick walls choice may not cause too many problems in your insurance search, the plaster panels option will cover traditional wattle-and-daub buildings that may be hundreds of years old.
Insurers can be nervous when it comes to covering homes that aren't built with standard bricks and mortar, but that doesn't mean homeowners can't find the right policy
Ben Wilson, Gocompare.com
If your property falls into this more unusual category, it's worth proceeding to see if we can find you the right quote.
But you should note that you may need to turn to a specialist broker or insurer to find appropriate cover, perhaps by speaking to them in person rather than quoting online.
"Insurers can be nervous when it comes to covering homes that aren't built with standard bricks and mortar, but that doesn't mean homeowners can't find the right policy for their home," said Gocompare.com's Ben Wilson.
"Finding the right cover may mean going to a specialist, but it's always important to check the wording of any policy to make sure your home's protected in the way you think.
"Using a comparison website can also be a quick-and-easy way to find the right policy for you and your home."
Due to the lightweight materials used and the way timber frames bear the building's weight, some timber-framed homes have been built with little or no foundation, which can have some major insurance implications.
Timber-framed homes in London
The Great Fire of London spelled the end of timber-framed buildings in the city for over 300 years by prompting the 1666 Rebuilding of London Act, which was aimed at preventing a repeat of the catastrophe.
The law changed in the early 1990s, and since then the popularity of timber-framed buildings in the capital has caught up with the rest of the UK.
If this is the case for your home, it should still be possible to find cover but you may find your insurer will refuse to protect you against claims involving landslip, heave and subsidence, which can be incredibly costly.
Make sure you know what's in the ground beneath your house and be sure to let your insurer know the exact situation - getting it wrong could invalidate your cover.
Flooding and timber frame buildings
Flooding may be more of an issue for timber-frame buildings than homes of standard construction because the timber frame may suffer greater damage than brickwork if flooding is significant.
This is another factor that might mean insurance premiums are slightly more expensive. To protect your home, see our guide on reducing the risk of flooding.
Building your own timber-framed home
Timber-framed buildings and homes look like they're only going to become more popular. They're sustainable to produce, easy to construct and timber is accessible, affordable and can last for many years when maintained correctly.
Find out more
- The Structural Timber Association has tips, advice and information for people building their own timber-framed homes†
A home built with timber as the main construction material will also have excellent insulation potential, meaning heating your home could be cheaper.
If you're building your own timber-frame home, the sooner you can bring insurers in, the better.
If that's at the design stage they'll know what materials are being used and what systems are being installed to prevent fire, such as smoke detectors and fire alarms.
Having guidance and advice from insurers early on will make the process all the simpler and will help ensure you don't have problems finding insurance once your build is finished.
Need more information?
If you want to find out more before committing to a quote, try our home insurance guides.
By Emily Bater