Older may not be wiser … when it comes to buying home insurance

Insuring an older property
Check your insurance cover carefully when buying an older property

The property of your dreams may well be the quintessential English house, or thatched cottage with roses growing up the walls and over the front door, or maybe your ideal home is Georgian, Regency, Victorian or Edwardian property.

But did you know that the age of your property affects the cost of your home insurance, the rule of thumb being the older the house, the more your home insurance will cost? That older house, full of charm and character may cost you up to around £50 a year more to insure than a new-build property. This may seem strange when you consider that the build quality of most older houses is superior to that of the modern-day mass-produced estate homes.

Sadly, older property costs more to rebuild or fix than its modern counterpart, due to the increased complications of non-standard building regulations and greater cost of traditional building methods and materials.

Another aspect, which is often overlooked, is whether the property is in a Conservation Area or is a Listed Property.  A Listed Building celebrates a building’s special architectural and historic interest, and also brings it under the consideration of the planning system so that it can be protected for future generations.

The older a building is, the more likely it is to be listed. All buildings built before 1700, which survive in anything like their original condition, are listed – as are most of those built between 1700 and 1840. Particularly careful selection is required for buildings from the period after 1945. Usually a building has to be over 30 years old to be eligible for listing.  A Conservation Area is an area of special architectural or historical interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.

These constraints mean that in the case of a Listed Building, or one sited in a Conservation Area, you do not have the automatic right to reconstruct the property in more readily available materials and with more modern and widespread techniques, following a fire, thus the cost of reconstruction is increased.  

Coupled with this, older property, at least statistically, is more likely to suffer from being built partly of dangerous substances, such as lead or asbestos, which can be expensive to remove. Other factors, including subsidence (particularly in Victorian and Edwardian homes), damp and mould problems, or electrical and plumbing issues, will also make the older property a greater risk for home insurers.

It is essential that if you intend to buy an older property, you do so with your “eyes wide open”. The best way to do this is to employ the services of a competent Chartered Surveyor. You will find a list of these at www.propertysurveying.co.uk


Back to July 2018 Newsletter

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