Getting the right kind of home insurance for timber framed buildings

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Find out about the risks associated with timber framed buildings and make sure you get the right cover for your unique home

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Home insurance is essential if you want to protect your home and its contents. From everyday maintenance and repairs to unexpected events like flooding, burglary, or house fires, a good home insurance policy provides affordable solutions when you really need them.

For some homeowners, insuring the building itself can raise a lot of questions, particularly those who own structures made from timber frames Timber homes have lots of desirable practical and aesthetic qualities but, as a result, home insurance premiums can increase and policies can become complex. To help you get a solid answer, Admiral has pinpointed some of the all-important questions.

Should I buy a timber framed house?

Buildings made from timber frames are becoming more popular in the UK, particularly in rural areas. Not only do timber homes evoke the feel of contemporary country living, but they’re also durable, relatively cheap, quick to construct, eco-friendly, and can save you a lot on central heating.

Unlike homes made from concrete blocks and brick, timber frames can be constructed in a matter of days rather than weeks. Materials are also often sustainably sourced and readily available.

Many timber frames are formed in factories as kits, and brought to site prepared for immediate, fast and straight-forward construction, without being hindered by weather constraints. Cutting the timber in the factory can take time, however, due to the need for accuracy and wood preparation.

When it comes to heating your home, timber structures tend to heat up and cool down quicker than brickwork, reducing the length of time central heating needs to be switched on and keeping the house temperate in the summer months.

Due to timber framed homes having a quicker turnaround for construction and relatively low cost, they are now being considered as a solution to the UK’s growing housing crisis. 

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

As with a lot of natural materials, bespoke homes or atypical structures, regular maintenance is essential. Cladding and fascia boards can be applied to timber to protect the wood from extreme moisture and heat, and of course, due to the fast burning materials, homeowners need to be more vigilant to prevent house fires.

Whilst timber is great for rapid insulation, it can also retain moisture, and consequently is at risk of condensation.

This leads to problems such as rot and cracks, which can cause long term damage to the timber. To avoid excess condensation, most construction companies install a vapour check - such as foil-based plasterboard between the lining of any inside wall and insulation material to prevent vapour from passing through the timber.

Dry rot can also be an issue and may become more of a risk with climate change and increased temperatures, so make sure you regularly check and treat the wood, getting expert help when needed

Another issue with timber is the lack of noise insulation compared to brickwork. Noise will travel a lot further around the house and from the outside world, so it’s worth speaking with your architect to find out about sound absorbent walls.

How will owning a timber home affect my home insurance policy?

In the past, many insurance companies would not consider insuring a timber framed home, but advances in construction methods have reduced the stigma surrounding these risks. Generally speaking, a house made from timber is just as durable as one made from brick, but homes built from timber frames are still classed as non-standard properties by the majority of insurance providers.

Most recommended insurers, including Admiral, have widespread expertise in the field of non-standard properties and timber frames, and will be able to advise on the right policy for you, making sure it covers the structure as well as the contents of your home.

As when purchasing any insurance policy, be sure to do your research. Find out about the history of your home and gather as much information as you can before you get a quote. The higher risk of damage by fire or flooding in timber structures may affect your premium. Different standards of timber construction can also have an impact

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