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Lorna Harrington

What is the rebuild cost of my house?

The cost to rebuild your house for insurance purposes is based on your house being rebuilt from scratch.

The rebuild cost of your house for insurance purposes is based on your house being rebuilt from scratch.

Your rebuild cost differs to the market value. It’s important to make sure this figure is accurate to avoid being over insured or worse, underinsured.

If you’ve recently bought your home, the rebuild cost should be on your mortgage valuation or deeds.

What’s included in the rebuild cost?

Your rebuild cost should include any professional fees associated with rebuilding, the cost of clearing the site, delivering new materials and if necessary storing them at the site.

As well as:

  • The structure of the home
  • Fixtures and fittings e.g., kitchens, bathrooms
  • Oil & gas tanks and cesspits
  • Permanent swimming pools
  • Tennis hard courts
  • Walls, gates, fences and hedges
  • Terraces and patios
  • Drives and paths
  • Car ports and garages
  • Sheds, greenhouses, summer houses and other buildings

How do I calculate the rebuild cost of my house?

If you own a standard, brick-built home, there are two ways to calculate your rebuild cost:

  • Use the Building Cost Information Service’s house rebuilding cost calculator
  • Hire a chartered surveyor from a RICS regulated firm to carry out a professional assessment
Example of a standard brick built home

If your home is:

  • A listed building
  • Made of stone
  • Difficult to reach
  • Eco-friendly
  • Constructed before WWII
  • Altered
  • Used for a different purpose
  • Has extensive external features or outbuildings
  • Updated with expensive fixtures and fittings

Or, if 10 years have passed since your property has had a professional building insurance valuation, it’s important to arrange a Reinstatement Cost Assessment (a professional rebuild valuation) from a RICS regulated firm.

Example of a stone built home

Is my building listed?

To find out if you live in a listed building, go to the relevant website for your country:

Next steps

  1. Contact us to discuss your property and whether you would require a Reinstatement Cost Assessment
  2. Review the rebuild cost of your home each time you renew your insurance
  3. Update your rebuild cost any time you make changes to your property or its use
  4. Choose a Major Review on year 3 to keep your valuation accurate

The valuation of listed and historic buildings for insurance purposes

A modern brick house might cost of the order of £1,500/m² £2,200/m² to rebuild. We frequently visit Listed properties which cost at least three times this amount and if the property is complex in construction with fine internal features, then the cost might be in excess of £15,000/m² to reinstate.

BCH experience is that listed buildings cost significantly more to rebuild following an insured loss than unlisted buildings.

Through our experience of providing valuations of listed and historic buildings for insurance all over the United Kingdom, we know that Listed buildings cost significantly more to rebuild following an insured loss than unlisted buildings.

Naturally the question on everyone’s lips is …”how much more? What percentage should I add to the sum insured?” We would love to give you a simple answer; but unfortunately it all depends.

The first factor to understand the valuation of listed and historic buildings is, where does the starting figure come from? If you have taken building rates from the internet (such as BCIS) that are intended for a 250m² modern home of a brick-block construction and our subject house is a stone cottage, in a conservation area, approached via a narrow bridge across a stream, the price per metre could be 100% to 200% more, i.e. £2,200/m² for the modern home and £6,000/m² for the stone house.

Where a listed building is in commercial use, there is even less published data available. At BCH we see a broad spectrum of listed structures from monumental office buildings taking pride of place in our town and city centres, to converted prisons and military barracks now in use as hotels or apartments. The published rates for new build office buildings range between £1,500 and £3,000/m² whereas an assessment for a classically inspired 18th century stone building – with many retained internal period features – in use by a local authority as offices could be assessed at £15,000/m2.

4 key factors which affect the valuation of listed and historic buildings for insurance

1. Professional Fees

historic-buildings-valuation-professional-fees

For a Listed building one may need or want to employ a team of professionals (architects, surveyors, mechanical and electrical engineers, planning consultants etc.) who have specific experience, qualifications and/or a proven track record of working on such buildings.

Although fees are not fixed, you are likely to find that professionals with such specialisms charge more for their services than the average because of their expertise and because more time is involved to get the job done. You may also find that the correct person is not locally based and that additional travel and accommodation expenses will be charged. Very sought after teams may be busy at the time of a loss and having to wait for them may also increase costs.

Professional fees on a standard building might come in at around 13.5% including VAT of the rebuild cost. For a Listed building, let’s say an extra 5- 8% should be added. In very unique situations, 30% could be expected and some insurers set aside 25% as standard.

2. Time delays – of various types!

Work on Listed buildings tends to take longer than on a conventional building. For example, partition walls in modern buildings are often formed with plasterboard sheets nailed to timber studwork, whereas in Listed buildings timber laths and lime plaster might be used which takes much longer to construct and will involve more expensive specialist trades.

And this leads us onto the next point…

It is not uncommon for a Listed building to sit for at least a year following a major loss before reinstatement work can commence. Time delays cost money as there are still various professionals working in the background and prices tend to increase with inflation.

Time delays can also be caused by the site becoming of archaeological interest whereby the authorities insist on carrying out research etc. The cost of this is borne by the insurer.

For expected delays and increased working time on site, one could reasonably expect the overall value to increase by 5-12% depending on the specific property and grading.

3. Conservation Approval

All work to a seriously damaged Listed building will need approval from the Local Authority who may also call in Historic England. The home owner is therefore at the mercy of these bodies, who are keen to see that no traditional forms of construction are lost, when the damaged building is rebuilt.

Although some modern materials may be accepted, the cost of rebuilding will increase greatly if they insist on retaining the original form of construction. And there is no way of knowing in advance what the authorities will specify. It is not unknown, for example, for a stone quarry to have to be re-opened to provide similar stone to that which was originally quarried and used many years ago.

At BCH we will take into account the specific materials used on a site. If constructed from ashlar stone this could increase the cost of the building by over 50% compared to rebuilding in good quality brickwork.

An acceptable contingency on a modern home would be 5%. On a Listed building we would add perhaps 5-10%. If stone is from a specific quarry as detailed above, an additional contingency would need to be added.

4. Complexity

Many stately homes as well as small cottages have high sums added for garden walls and driveways, both of which should be included in the valuation upon which the premium will be calculated.

It is often said by clients that they will never lose the entire brick walls that surround their property and, in such circumstances, some insurers will pay for damage up to a certain limit (known as first loss.)

There are coach houses and other outbuildings which can add considerably to the sum insured as all of these buildings will be within the curtilage of the main house and therefore come within the Listing, even though they may not be separately described.

In London, there are difficult issues to contend with if the building fronts onto the pavement as materials delivered to site will need to be moved immediately inside the building. There are also problems and of course additional costs of working on building with restricted access and working space for reconstruction purposes.

To sum up the valuation of listed and historic buildings for insurance:

It is not simply the Listed status which increases the sum insured. It is the type of materials and labour required to reinstate an historic building, the additional fees that will be incurred, specific location factors and timing; all of which increase the valuation for insurance purposes.

You can find out more about our Reinstatement Cost Assessments for residential properties here or for commercial property click here.


This paper was originally written and researched in 2014 by:

Lorna Harrington BA(Hons), MA, PGDipConsHistEnv (RICS)

Nicholas Tufton FRICS

Updated in 2018 & 2021

Commercial Director celebrates and reflects on 2 years at BCH

A driving force of BCH, our Commercial Director, Mark Briggs celebrated his 2-year work anniversary last month.

A driving force of BCH, our Commercial Director, Mark Briggs celebrated his 2-year work anniversary last month.

Mark arrived at BCH in 2019. As a Director of a quantity surveying and construction company, T&B, he brought with him immeasurable practical expertise to strengthen our business processes in reporting Commercial Building Reinstatement Cost Assessments.

BCH is the UK’s market leader for RCAs and Mark is leading the evolution of company strategy and innovation, whilst keeping the customer experience at the centre of these improvements.

Mark holds a BSc(Hons) in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management, Cert CII, is an Associate of the RICS and is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Builders.

Joining the company not long before the pandemic started, Mark was instrumental in navigating some of the most challenging times in business, as the world got to grips with new ways of operating.

“I arrived in the role of Commercial Director only ten months before COVID hit, which has meant the last two years have been a significant challenge.

COVID has been life changing for many both professionally and personally. An optimist by nature, I hope along with many, that we will soon turn a corner and we can look back and reflect on how we used the lockdowns effectively to make some positive changes.

Through hard work, and some luck, I believe as a business we have successfully navigated the COVID pandemic and indeed have made considerable progress for our team and customers.

During this unprecedented time, we have bolstered our existing professional relationships, have crystallised many new relationships and have made significant progression on a digital transformation of BCH. The result of which, to date, has been the introduction of a brand-new IT system and the launch of Benchmark, our desk-based e-Valuation service.

It is always a privilege to work with a strong team around you and I am delighted that during my first two years, we have had the opportunity to promote various members within our team, and also invest in our future processes and services by taking on an in-house Project Manager and IT Principal. We also find ourselves in a position to recruit more surveyors and it is wonderful to see what talent there is out there.

At BCH there is never a dull moment and I look forward to celebrating our 15th Anniversary this December with the hope of a return to business as normal soon.”

We congratulate Mark on an interesting, challenging and rewarding 2 years at BCH and look forward to the continued evolution and progression of the business for our team and customers.

Daniel Weston

Buildings Insurance Surveyor

Buildings Insurance Surveyor

Daniel joined Barrett Corp Harrington in 2021 as a Building Insurance Surveyor. Based in Derbyshire, Daniel will start surveying blocks of flats and commercial properties throughout the UK this year and plans on becoming a RICS Certified Property Measurer.

Outside of work Daniel competes in his local Badminton League and spending time with his young family.

Non-standard buildings insurance valuations

Due to their unique nature, non-standard buildings insurance valuations can be much more complicated to establish – making it difficult to get the correct buildings insurance cover.

Due to their unique nature, non-standard buildings insurance valuations can be much more complicated to establish – making it difficult to get the correct buildings insurance cover.

Non-standard buildings are typically older and constructed with more expensive or unique materials.
As well as the construction materials, skilled labour and the location play a big part in determining the correct rebuild value and adequate buildings insurance cover.

Examples of non-standard residential properties:

  • Thatched properties: These can be expensive to repair, and can suffer extensive fire damage
  • Listed buildings: Most are over 100 years old and can be expensive to repair using traditional materials and methods
  • Larger properties: Homes insured for a value over £1M, or with more than six bedrooms
  • Unusual construction properties: This includes steel or timber framed buildings, because they can be expensive to repair

Buildings insurance for residential property can be provided in different ways depending on the type of building:

  1. Bedroom rated insurance: Some buildings insurance providers will base how much cover you need on the number of bedrooms you have. For example, if you have a two-bedroom house, they may give you up to £250,000 of buildings insurance cover, or £350,000 if you have a four-bedroom house.
  2. Blanket cover: Some insurers set a standard claim limit for their policies, regardless of how much your house would cost to rebuild. This is usually a high amount, for example £1 million, or even unlimited, so you know you should be covered for any repairs you need.
  3. Rebuild cost: Some policies set the cover level at the cost of rebuilding your home from scratch if it was destroyed.

Rebuild cost-based buildings insurance & non-standard buildings insurance valuations

With a non-standard residential property, it is more likely that your chosen insurer will not provide cover on a bedroom rated or blanket basis, but rather a rebuild cost.

If your insurance policy is based on a rebuild cost, it’s imperative that the rebuild cost you provide when you take out the policy, is accurate and includes everything that is referred to within the insurers definition of ‘buildings’.

Examples of property features which contribute to the ‘buildings’ and rebuild cost:

  • The structure of the home
  • All fixtures and fittings e.g., kitchens, bathrooms
  • Oil & gas tanks and cesspits
  • Permanent swimming pools
  • Tennis hard courts
  • Walls, gates, fences and hedges
  • Terraces and patios
  • Drives and paths
  • Car ports and garages
  • Sheds, greenhouses, summer houses and other buildings

The rebuild cost is not the same as the market value, it’s the amount it would cost to completely rebuild your home if it was destroyed beyond repair. It includes the price of labour and materials.

This cost is usually different to your home’s sale price or market value. Very large, older buildings in a remote location may have a higher rebuild cost than their market value, whereas a small building, in a highly sort after, location will have a rebuild cost lower than its market value. Basing your policy on your home’s rebuild cost will prevent you from over-insuring and paying higher premiums than necessary.

The importance of a correct rebuild cost

While you want to ensure that you are not over-paying on your premium and therefore overinsured, you most certainly don’t want to be underinsured.

You shouldn’t try to make savings on your premium without checking the rebuild cost with an experienced building insurance surveyor.

Reinstatement Cost Assessment

The RICS recommend that a Reinstatement Cost Assessment is undertaken every 3 to 5 years to establish an accurate rebuild cost.

This involves an experienced building insurance surveyor visiting and assessing all aspects of the property to create a detailed report. The report will include the specific rebuild cost of your property, which you can then provide to obtain the correct buildings insurance cover. This will ensure that in the event of a valid claim, you receive the appropriate cost to repair or reinstate your property.

To find out about a Reinstatement Cost Assessment for your property, please call 01455 293 510 or email info@bch.uk.com.

World Theatre Day: Spotlight on Theatre Buildings

Theatre Buildings

Our theatres are part of our heritage, our memories and home to the creative industry which accounts for 1.9 million jobs and £84.1 billion a year!

This weekend marks World Theatre Day (Saturday 27th March) and this year will be an online celebration.

If like me, you’re an avid theatre fan and have also re-booked your tickets multiple times (4 times so far for ‘Six’!), you’ll be missing taking your seat, observing the stillness and waiting for the show to start!

Building insurance valuations for theatres

The Theatre Trust’s database contains almost 4,000 theatre buildings, yet sadly only half of these are standing today. This emphasises just how important it is to look after and preserve our theatre buildings and buildings insurance plays a huge part in this.

When you think of the theatre, you probably imagine a huge older style building with exquisite features inside, adorned ceilings and a vast space between the stalls and the gods. Theatres are extraordinary buildings that are very difficult to put a value on.

Often when discussing Reinstatement Cost Assessments, reference is made to rates per m2 (£/m2) and I thought it would be interesting to explain how they can vary in a building like a theatre.

While lots of buildings have an average internal floor to ceiling height of around 3m, a theatre stage and auditorium has a huge, cavernous space meaning the relationship between floor area to wall area is far from typical and thus – if talking in rates per m2 – could increase by e.g. 400% depending on the individual theatre.

The same applies to other buildings with voluminous interiors: sports halls, churches, lofty warehousing, tall barns, all need to be insured for higher values than shorter neighbours of the same square footage.

Why extraordinary buildings need to be seen to be valued

Expert assessment is needed of buildings such as theatres as the BCIS data only holds a sample size of 5 and, if you are an Opera fan, there is only 1 sample.

Breaking the building down to consider the different areas of seating, reception spaces and the complex web of rooms backstage, is all important to coming up with an overall calculation.

Our Victorian theatres also include a wealth of internal embellishment which would be expensive to replace, but adds hugely to the atmosphere and experience of theatre goers.

The city centre locations make any potential reconstruction challenging, with limited access and space to store materials and site offices.

While few new theatres are being built, and existing theatres are in need of investment, a window into potential costs and challenges is seen via refurbishment and renovation projects.

Work began on the Leeds Playhouse which is being funded by a £15.8m investment to revamp the theatre with a new accessible entrance, upgraded equipment and studio space.

At BCH, we consider all such details and prepare a tailored Reinstatement Cost Assessment as unique as the building itself.

If you are involved in the insurance arrangements of a complex building and would like to determine the precise rebuild value of a property, please contact us on 01455 293510 or email info@bch.uk.com.

 

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