Are timber frame houses more expensive to insure?

Naturally, timber-framed buildings have a higher combustibility. The fact that the building's fire “load” is too high will boost the insurer's premium rate. If this is combined with a very high refurbishment value, it can become an obstacle to an insurer accepting 100% of the risk. If other insurers participate in a (scheduled) coinsurance agreement, this can have an impact on the price, scope of coverage, and availability of insurers.

Another reason why building timber-framed houses costs more is because you typically use high-quality timbers. You can't use any type of wood. Each frame must be carefully selected and processed to ensure stability and durability. Does wood home insurance cost more than rod frame house insurance? Not necessarily.

It depends on where and how the house will be built. As with any type of home construction, if your structure site is in an area prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, or earthquakes, the cost will be higher. Due to the widespread use of wooden frames by the construction industry, lenders are much less likely to make this distinction. Over the next decade, many of the UK's largest developers have announced a significant increase in timber frame construction, targeting both a greater proportion within their development portfolio and the expansion of innovative techniques and technologies.

Timber-framed buildings are constructed of lightweight materials, so some have been built with little or no foundation. The rising cost of insurance for timber structure construction in the UK has compounded this increase, threatening to further erode much of the recognized value gain and return on investment of this modern construction method. Timber frame homeowners face different challenges when seeking insurance, because their homes have features that don't always meet normal insurance criteria. In the past, many insurance companies did not consider insuring a timber-framed home, but advances in construction methods have reduced the stigma surrounding these risks.

However, there are specialized insurers that understand the needs of timber-frame homeowners and can offer you a more competitive insurance quote instead. Although new timber-framed constructions are as robust and durable as brick structures, they are still classified as “non-standard”. Timber structures are extremely strong and durable, offer a wide variety of home styles, and when manufactured with ethically extracted wood, wooden houses are sustainable and environmentally friendly. This is their main disadvantage and one of the reasons why many people consider timber frame houses to be “weak”.

The Structural Timber Association can advise you if you are building your own half-timbered house. With the help of an agent specializing in construction insurance, a sturdy timber structure risk strategy can be prepared to allay potential insurers' concerns about the risk factors of a development. As the pace of transformation in timber structure construction accelerates, so does awareness of the risk factors associated with timber structures and the growth of historical data that can guide the course of future risk strategies. In modern timber frame construction, structural insulation panels (SIPs) and ventilated roof systems are used to achieve superior insulation and reduce energy costs.

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Serena Uccello
Serena Uccello

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