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  • Things to consider when buying or building a non standard home

    If you are in the fortunate position of considering either buying or building a non standard home then this could be an exciting time for you. However, before you let that heady moment take over and plunge straight in with both feet you need to be acutely aware of the additional costs and limitations that may be imposed on you in terms of procuring, insuring and general up-keep of the property.

    Non standard home insuranceA non standard home can be classed in terms of the type of property, the construction materials used, the location and use of the property, or even by the residents of the home. With a non standard home, increased risk comes hand-in-hand. Whether it be increased risk of damage, theft, or difficulty sourcing materials and labour for repair or rebuild.

    Any non standard home will cause complications with finance, warranties, insurance and selling on. It is a fine balancing act deciding just how far you are willing to go on the spectrum of what can be considered non standard, and should be contemplated carefully before jumping in.

    Non standard construction

    A home that is built of anything other than the ‘standard’ bricks and mortar can be considered non standard construction. Materials such as timber frame, oak frame, steel frame, cob, straw, wattle and daub, flat roof, thatched roof, green roof and concrete prefabricated are all examples that will put you into non standard territory. Each of these options are considered specialist and affect the availability of financial mortgage products, buildings insurance and warranty. Not to mention, if you choose to sell your property in the future and the impact which is then passed on to your prospective buyer.

    Often mainstream lenders will not even consider mortgaging a non standard home and many insurance providers will lack the specialist knowledge required to correctly assess the risk, resulting in either excessively high premiums or refusing to quote at all. Traditional insurers are profoundly aware that a non standard home can lead to higher claims, and increased costs of repair. The materials used may also be more susceptible to fire and water damage or can suffer greater damage over time, such as concrete which will crumble and crack.

    Listed buildings will be subject to damage and decay due to the sheer age of the property. High repair costs will also be a necessity due to the legal requirement to upkeep the property to original standards.

    A specialist insurance provider will be able to provide the relevant expertise in these areas and offer appropriate and comprehensive cover.

    Property location

    The location of your property can also affect its status as a non standard property. Perhaps a home you are interested is located in a flood risk area or a location prone to subsidence. In areas of possible subsidence it is important to consider the surrounding area, is there a high proportion of clay in the ground? Is there a willow tree located within 40 meters of the property? Are there any damaged drains surrounding the property?

    Flooding is fast becoming a serious problem in the UK and cases are on the increase. For an initial idea on if a property is located in a flood risk zone you can use the Environment Agency’s Flood Risk map. Once you are sure of the location risks, if you are serious about purchasing or building a property in a flood risk area you should first assess the level of risk. It may be wise to consider if the property has PVC windows and door frames as opposed to wood and to avoid patio or folding doors to reduce your risk. Likewise with internal fittings and décor; plastics and metals are favourable materials.

    If you are proposing to build on a flood plain you should know that new properties are required to be built with the ground floor at least 300mm above the highest probable level of flooding. You can also look to utilise engineered bricks with increased water resistance when compared to handmade varieties.


    If you’re a considering building or buying a high value property then this will fall into the category of a non standard home which will be at greater risk of vandalism or theft. Or perhaps you are intending to let out a property to tenants, purchase a holiday home or second home, each of which could be left vacant for long periods of time and carry increased risk. All of these options will impact upon insurance options available to you and you will normally need to approach a specialist insurance provider to gain adequate cover.

    Selling up

    If you intend to sell your property in the future at some point then you will need to consider the impact of a non standard home on the saleability of the property, which will ultimately also affect the value. Demand for non standard homes tends to be low due to the nature of the difficulties involved and as such eliminating many lenders may result in needing to find a cash buyer or someone with at the very least a large deposit. This may even be the case if the property is in good condition and there are no clear issues relating to the home.

    With all of this in mind, before buying or building a non standard home you need to make sure you fully understand the implications; check with mortgage lenders, warranty providers and specialist insurance providers to find out exactly how they are likely to assess your risk and property value so you have a clear picture of the impact of your decision.

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