Buying a non-standard home 2024

Emma Myrie

Written by

Emma Myrie

Insurance Underwriting Expert

Libby Goodsearles

Reviewed by

Libby Goodsearles

Head of Marketing

Less than 1 minute

Updated: 13 Mar 2024


what are non-standard construction properties?

A non-standard construction property is any home which does not have brick or stone walls and a roof made of slate or tile.  ‘Standard houses’ do have brick or stone walls with a roof made of slate or tile. A non-standard construction is therefore anything that falls outside of this, such as, for example, timber-framed homes, concrete homes and barn conversions. 

Non-standard homes tend to be common areas where the materials used to build them are (or have historically been) more readily available. When you buy a non-standard home, you need to be aware that the cost of building maintenance and the cost of non-standard construction home insurance may be higher. 

how to tell if a house is a non-standard construction property

If the walls are not made of brick/stone and the roof not made of tile/slate the house will be non-standard construction. Some common types to look out for are:

  • Non-standard materials in the walls or frame for example timber frames, steel frames, concrete walls, cob, wattle and daub
  • Non-standard roof: any roof not made of slate or tile such as shingle or thatch, or a flat roof which are often constructed of materials such as asphalt or felt on timber.
  • Non-standard construction methods i.e. prefab houses/HUF houses. Some listed homes may also be non-standard due to different construction methods, and this also applies to homes built before 1850. It’s important that you are certain of a property’s construction before you purchase it – the seller could have documentation which details this, but a chartered surveyor will be able to tell you the construction type and advise on the structural integrity of the property.

is there a high demand for non-standard construction homes?

Demand for certain types of non-standard modern construction homes can be limited, as many people are now aware of the difficulties associated with their ownership. The problems that arise from maintaining a wooden or concrete construction home can discourage both buyers and mortgage lenders, often because it is difficult to tell whether the property has been looked after sufficiently in the past. Improper maintenance can lead to a modern construction home losing its value very quickly. If this happens, it can make it hard for owners or mortgage lenders to recoup losses. When a modern built property deteriorates, it can be very costly for non-standard construction insurance providers to pay out claims.

Issues to consider when buying a non-standard construction home

Non-standard homes can be:

1. More difficult to maintain depending on their materials

2. At greater risk of damage and issues due to their materials

3. More difficult to secure a mortgage with, or insure due to their increased risks

things to consider with a concrete house

concrete lifespan

There are currently around one and a half million concrete prefabricated homes in the UK, most of which were erected during the post war period as a stop-gap measure to provide affordable housing to those who lost homes to the Blitz.

The problems with concrete homes become more apparent over time, therefore, you will need to source specialist modern materials home insurance when you own such a house. Concrete walls will typically begin to crumble as they age, and cracks begin to appear as the steel binding rods that hold them together corrode. Though there is no telling how quickly this will happen, the known susceptibility of the material makes it harder for an underwriter to judge the risk a house might face and can make it difficult for you to obtain modern construction home insurance. In turn, this also makes it difficult to secure a mortgage to buy a modern construction property (which consequently makes it difficult to sell on).

getting a non-standard construction mortgage

You may encounter difficulties when trying to buy a non-standard construction home, not just when finding the buildings insurance, but also when you try to organise the mortgage. Mortgage lenders tend to look upon non-standard homes with the same suspicious gaze that insurers often adopt.

There are a number of reasons for this, the first being demand. Because demand for non-standard housing is rather more restricted than that for an ordinary property, mortgage providers (always anticipating the worst) think that it will be harder for them to recoup their losses if you default on your mortgage. The second reason is maintenance. Because a non-standard home may require more TLC than the norm, lenders worry that you will not maintain it as it needs to be maintained. Again, poor maintenance can lead to decreased property values and could result in the lender losing out in the event of foreclosure.

non-standard construction INSURANCE

When buying a non-standard property, there are a few steps you should take to minimise the hassle you might encounter. Many are sold at auctions, so you should make sure you know what a house is built from before you make a bid. Secondly, plan for any additional conveyancing, legal or mortgage costs and understand that you may have to sell the house at a lower price than usual to attract a buyer down the line. Finally, you need to make sure that you can find an insurer willing to provide you with the  that you need.

The difficulty associated with finding insurance for a non-standard home is often a result of mainstream insurers lacking the specialist knowledge necessary to properly assess the risk. When insurers are unfamiliar with the actual risk, they will usually either charge too much for premiums, or refuse to offer quotes altogether to protect their own interests.

This is not the case with Homeprotect. With us, you can get a quote for non-standard home insurance online for almost all construction materials. If your home is on fixed foundations and is in the UK, Homeprotect can help.

woman on laptop next to window

Get a home insurance quote online

Get a quote online in less than 10 minutes*

Recommended by our customers

72% Saved money when they switched to Homeprotect*