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Insuring non-standard construction homes built from wattle and daub through to steel!

A house is not a home.........well, these days it can be anything you like and it need not just consist of bricks and mortar! Here we take a look at some of the alternatives popular in today's construction market, all of which offer home owners the chance to have the house of their dreams.

Steel Frame Houses

There are over 120,000 steel frame houses in the UK, which accounts for around 0.06% of housing stock. The 'steel frame' refers to a skeleton of the building being created with vertical steel columns and horizontal 'I' shaped beams. The skeleton then supports the floors, walls and roof, which are all attached to the frame. Steel frame homes have an impressive strength-to-weight ratio as steel is very durable and can offer great design flexibility.

Steel does not warp, spilt or crack – unlike some other building materials. However, on the downside, it is less energy efficient than timber as it conducts heat and cold and so can make for a chilly home if you cannot keep the thermostat at a reasonable level!

Concrete Homes

Concrete homes are renowned for their durability and cost-saving feature – not surprising as concrete is the world's most often used man made-product in construction. 4.3% of UK homes are built with some form of concrete: however it is very unusual to be able to spot a concrete home because the walls are often hidden behind a traditional facade of brick or stucco rendering.

Post-war 'prefab' temporary homes were generally constructed with pre-cast concrete panels and frames with the aim of them lasting ten years. Quite a number of these houses have since been demolished as the concrete crumbled and the steel bars inside the concrete rusted and became dangerous. However, many still remain today and are quite habitable and cosy.

Modern construction methods and the use of insulated concrete panels enable homeowners to have a well designed and comfortable home built largely of concrete.

Wattle and Daub – still going strong!

Wattle and daub is a building material comprising a woven lattice of wooden strips called wattle which is 'daubed' with a sticky substance. It has been used in construction for over 6,000 years and is still used widely all over the globe. Many historic buildings include wattle and daub wall construction – especially within timber framed buildings. The modern day equivalent of wattle and daub include techniques such as lath and plaster, drywall construction and plasterboard. Some properties still include 'cob and daub' which is a material made of mud and straw. Cob walls are freestanding and usually two or three feet thick, whereas wattle and daub is used in panels that fill the gaps within the structure of a timber framed building, as opposed to freestanding construction use.

Timber frame

Timber is a very traditional material for the construction of house frames and has become very popular in the last 20 years. Timber framing can be built and assembled on site much quicker than some other construction methods. Timber frame homes can be highly insulated providing warmth in winter and a cool environment in summer.

Eco Roof – the grass is always greener.....

Modern eco roofs are made of a system of manufactured layers deliberately placed over roofs to support growing vegetation and are relatively new. However, green or grassed roofs have been used for hundreds of years, but now with space being at a premium, 'roof top' gardens provide a way to keep the green element in large developments, such as the Ethelred Estate which is situated close to the River Thames in London.

Extensive green roofs have low maintenance requirements but they are generally not maintenance free, a myth which was cultivated some time ago and now disproved. Maintenance of eco roofs includes fertilization to increase flowering and succulent plant cover.

So, there is plenty of choice when you are looking at building or buying a new home. One thing to bear in mind though is that non-standard building constructions often require specialist insurance. This is either because they present a larger than usual risk, or because the construction method is new and so not proven and tried over many years.

Westhill Insurance Services will provide you with professional advice and will provide specialist advice as to how to proceed to insure your property. Our friendly team will make sure they understand fully the complexity of your property and will then shop around to find the best possible insurance to suit your budget. As an independent broker we can ensure we find you a quote to cover all that you need at the best price. We understand the complexities of insuring non-standard buildings and we know the questions to ask to get the information we need to construct a quote which will stand the test of time.

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 16th October, 2013