Buildings and contents insurance is there to protect what for many is their most valuable asset – their home. This takes on added significance if your home is of a particularly high value – especially if it is a period property, for which a specialist home insurance policy may be required.
The buildings insurance aspect of a policy covers the structure, bricks and mortar and permanent fixtures and fittings of a home against threats such as storm damage, floods and fires – each policy has different levels of protection. The contents aspect of a policy meanwhile, protects the items you keep in your home such as furniture, appliances and curtains.
The importance of decorating and maintaining a period property correctly
One of the reasons some conventional home insurance providers do not offer cover for period homes is because of the expense involved in repairing any damage. Non-specialist workers using inappropriate materials could seriously affect the value of the property with authentic materials, specialist stonework and experienced craftsmen required. Similarly, period properties may also be listed or situated in a conservation area and this further complicates the process.
If you do live in a period home then you may want to recreate the look and feel of the period whilst still enjoying your 21st century comforts:
- Edwardian homes (from 1901-1914)
The underlying theme of interior design of the Edwardian era was simplicity, light and air. Avoid bright white paint, instead use off-whites or pale creams. Woodwork in soft woods such as pine, should be grained or else painted. Hardwoods such as oak or mahogany should be varnished or polished. Door fittings are typically brass, with plain carpets and curtains.
- Victorian homes (from 1837-1901)
If you want to be authentic, carpets should be heavily patterned in dark green, red or blue. Bathrooms should be functional rather than decorated with pictures, ornaments or accessories – the most decorative item should be the suite itself. Do not remove dado rails and remember that wallpaper was the single most important element in the decoration of a Victorian room.
- Georgian homes (from 1714-1820)
There should be a sense of elegance, proportion and symmetry to any decorating scheme with burgundy, pea green and Wedgewood blue some of the most popular colours of the era. Traditionally the door furniture from the Georgian period was cast iron painted black, rather than the brass ‘Georgian-style’ fittings produced today, while floorboards, window sills, doors and skirtings were often painted. Only expensive hardwoods, such as oak and mahogany, were varnished.
- Tudor homes (from 1485-1603)
Tudor homes should feel warm, comfortable and cosy with heavy fabrics and drapes. Authentic Tudor homes will have extensive wood panelling and all woodwork must be left unpainted. Door fittings, if not original, should be in the original style – usually cast iron painted black.
Why is buildings and contents insurance so important?
Clearly replacing authentic items in a period home if they were stolen or damaged would be an expensive task due to their value and rarity. Meanwhile rebuilding a home of this nature could be financially crippling without support. In fact, if your property is listed then failing to restore it to its original condition could even lead to prosecution.
Look for policies that cover specialist materials and administration costs – if your home has a Thatch roof, ensure that is specifically covered against fire as part of the policy. If your home contains unique (permanent) fixtures and fittings from the period then ensure they are covered under the terms of the buildings policy and that there is no limit on individual items. Meanwhile, antiques and works of art should be covered as part of the contents aspect of the policy but again it is important to check the individual item limits.
Check the sum insured on a buildings insurance policy too. Many specialist insurers allow you to protect the home up to 125 per cent of its rebuild cost in case you run into additional expenses. Watch out for penalties for under insurance too – contents should be covered up to market value with new for old replacements.