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Home insurance for non-standard construction

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What do insurers class as non-standard construction?

Houses of non-standard construction are generally built from materials not considered ‘standard’ by insurers.

Most standard UK houses are made from brick or stone with a tile or slate roof. Insurers treat anything that falls outside this trend as ‘non-standard construction’. 

Insurers can be wary of non-standard homes because the risks and repair costs are less predictable.

That means home insurance for them tends to be more expensive, or there’ll be less choice of insurers that’ll cover them at all. 

Why non-standard properties are harder to insure

Non-standard homes can have reduced structural integrity or be made from dangerous and outdated materials, like asbestos. 

They’re generally harder to insure than standard homes, because:

  1. Repairing or replacing parts of your home is probably more expensive

  2. Non-standard materials are more likely to need ongoing maintenance

  3. Building materials might be harder to find or vulnerable to further damage

  4. You might need a specialist tradesperson

  5. Rebuild and repair processes could take longer, increasing labour costs

Types of non-standard construction houses

Getting home insurance for the following types of build could be complicated: 

  • Steel framed or BIFS houses
  • Timber-framed buildings
  • Modular and pre-fabricated homes
  • Listed buildings
  • Thatched roof
  • Concrete
  • Cob
  • Clunch
  • Bungaroosh
  • Wattle and daub
  • Straw bale
  • Flint and stone houses
  • Houses with grass and peat turf walls

Some insurers on our panel can quote for some of these builds. But not all. You'll be asked how your house is built when you're getting quotes with us. If you don't see your build type or you're unsure if an insurer can cover you, it's best to call and ask.

Concrete buildings don’t tend to show flaws, as most have a brick facade
But the risks of crumbling concrete and rusted steel rods will make them hard to insure

Insuring prefab houses

After World War II, prefabricated houses were a part of the government’s effort to rebuild Britain.

The University of the West of England reports that 1.5 million prefab buildings were built in the UK in between 1945 and 1955,

Because the lifespan of a prefab house is just 10 years, insuring them now is very difficult because they’re labelled as ‘defective’.

Arcon bungalows and Phoenix prefabs are just two examples.

Steel-framed houses made by the British Iron and Steel Federation (BISF) were built to last and should still be insurable.

But getting a mortgage - particularly if you’re a first-time buyer - can be another issue altogether.

How to tell if your home has true brick or brick facade walls

Some pre-fab homes will have a brick facade, sometimes known as brick veneer.

Brick veneer homes usually have ‘weep holes’ for air to circulate and water to drain, so check the row of bricks just above the foundation.

If these bricks have finger-sized holes drilled every so often, your house has brick veneer walls.

Homes with lintels above windows and doors, and deep windowsills usually have true brick walls.

What you need to tell insurers if you live in a non-standard building

When you get quotes for home insurance, you’ll be asked:

  • What your home’s made of - the walls and the roof
  • When it was built
  • If it’s a listed building
  • Nearby water sources, or large trees
  • Previous subsidence
  • Flooding risk

Have your home survey report, if you have one, and other important property documents to hand to help you answer your insurer’s questions.

Asbestos removal will usually be covered by home insurance when the asbestos is disturbed and it wasn’t your fault, for example, a fallen tree

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