Increasingly, houses are being built largely or in part using non-standard construction. Insurance can be difficult to get for these properties without an understanding insurer.

What do we mean by non-standard construction materials? In short, it is everything except brick, stone and concrete for walls, and slate or tile for roofs. Insurers need to know about these because often different materials present different risks, may require some extra conditions on your policy, or may not be covered at all.

And there can be as many types of non-standard material as there are types of property, many unknown to most customers – cob, composite panels, bungaroosh, corrugated iron, fibreglass, glass, flint, plastic, prefabricated, stramit, timber, wattle and daub, asphalt, corrugated iron, living roofs, metal, shingle and more.

When looking for an insurer for non-standard construction, look for one that has the flexibility to cover most materials. There are some that insurers will not cover, for example asbestos, because of the risk of third party liability potential, or thatch, because of the fire risk. There are some specialist thatch insurers available but most insurers will not want to offer cover in that case.

Glass is a very popular construction in modern homes, and make sure that you have the correct cover if you have a glass roof. Most insurers show flexibility and Emerald Life allows up to 20% glass roof without any increase in premium. More than that would need a refer to the underwriters but we aim to be flexible and constructive.

Most other types of roof are also covered by Emerald Life, including living roofs. There are small uplifts on different types of construction because they often cost more than standard construction. In addition, there are extra costs with non-standard construction in terms of on-going maintenance. Insurers may well require non-standard roofs to be checked regularly by a qualified contractor, say every five years, as part of the insurance cover, so it is important not to forget to do that. Forget, and you may run the risk that an insurer will refuse to pay out on a claim for water damage.

For new or recent builds, there is often a 10-year construction warranty. That may cover construction defects but would not cover a lack of proper maintenance, so it is important to remember the different ways of looking after modern or non-standard properties.

Stepping away from insurance for the moment, for properties for non-standard construction a proper survey is essential. There are two types of survey for a residential property – a homebuyers report and an extensive full survey. Given that non-standard construction is, well, non-standard, that extra cost of a full survey, and the insurance that comes with it, is likely a worthwhile expense.