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External walls and home insurance

If you live in a home that hasn’t been constructed from bricks or stone, it will make a difference to the cost of your home buildings insurance

GoCompare author
Updated 3 December 2021  | 3 mins read

How do external walls affect home insurance?

When an insurer is calculating a buildings insurance premium, they'll consider what your home is constructed from.

They'll also estimate the cost of rebuilding the property from the ground up if an event like a fire or flood makes it unhabitable. This is known as the sum insured. 

Rebuilding calculations factor in the method of construction and the materials used to build your home’s roofing and exterior walls.

The materials used can affect rebuild costs and, in some instances, may lead to an increase in the cost of your premiums.

Key points

  • Homes with external walls made of unusual building materials will usually require specialist buildings insurance
  • Some wall-building materials are more vulnerable to extreme fire and flood damage than others
  • Accurately calculate the rebuild cost to ensure you’re not underinsured

Does the type of wall make a difference?

Most UK houses have exterior walls built from brick or stone, these are classed as standard construction. Insurers can work out quite easily the risks and costs involved with this type of property.

If the walls of your property are made of anything more unusual or unconventional, then things can get more complicated.

Your home could be classed as non-standard construction and you may find fewer options available when looking for a policy. It's also likely to be more expensive to insure than a standard construction property.

In some cases, you may need to look for a specialist insurance provider.

Why do the building materials used have an effect on my insurance?

If the walls of your property are built from materials that are hard to source or cost a lot to repair and replace, this can push up the cost of your insurance.

For example, period homes or listed buildings with walls constructed from cob or wattle and daub will require costly specialist tradesmen and time-consuming techniques to build or repair. 

And some building materials, such as timber, are considered more vulnerable to extreme fire and flood damage than brick or stone walls, which can also mean an increase in insurance costs. 

Properties with concrete walls are classified as higher risk as they’re prone to defects and crumbling with age.

Insurers generally class the following as ‘non-standard’ wall-building material:

  • Timber walls, timber-frames, log homes
  • Structural glass
  • Cob
  • Wattle and daub
  • Straw bale
  • Concrete
  • Metal cladding
  • Corrugated iron
  • Fibreglass
  • Flint

How do I know what material my walls are?

The home buyer survey or building survey from the purchase of your home should tell you what your walls are constructed from.

How do I make sure my buildings insurance covers my needs?

When you apply for a buildings insurance quote, most providers ask you for an estimated rebuild cost (sum insured). This is the amount it would cost to completely rebuild your home from the ground up (not what it’s worth at market value).

It’s important to calculate your rebuild costs accurately and to check you’re insured for the right amount. Otherwise, you could end up either paying too much, or forking out for any shortfall because you’re underinsured.

There are a few ways to find out the rebuild cost of your home.

If you’ve recently bought your property, you might find it on your mortgage valuation or the deeds to your home.

Or you can use the residential rebuilding cost calculator from the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS).

The figure calculated includes the cost of demolishing and clearing away the property and rebuilding it to its existing design and specification.

If you live in a listed building, a house that’s not made from standard materials or a home that has special architectural features, you may need the advice of a chartered surveyor to help you calculate rebuild costs. 

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors can help you to find a surveyor in your area.

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