A Guide to Home Insurance & Saving with Online House Insurance Quotes
Flat Roof Home Insurance
Getting house insurance on a house with a flat roof need not be a problem at all.
As a rule of thumb houses with up to say 10 to 15% flat roofing are not subject to any extra charges for home insurance. Above that percentage you might expect a higher premium or a larger excess to the policy. It can be assumed that houses with over 20% flat roofing will be regarded as a non-standard insurance risk.
The insurer needs to establish whether the type of construction is 'standard' or otherwise. On the proposal form you will be asked about the type of construction of the house to be insured. Flat roofs fall into the 'non-standard' category. You will be asked the proportion (percentage) of the house that has a flat roof. You may be asked to state the particular type of flat roof construction, for example, felt and bitumen on wood or concrete and steel beams and its age.
House insurance policies are not designed to cover the flat roof from gradual deterioration; the usual wear and tear that can be expected to occur over the lifetime of a flat roof. But they should cover the contents of the house if they are damaged during specified events. For example, during a storm resulting in damage to contents caused by water leaking through the roof. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain the flat roof in a sound condition. Its obviously much wiser to renew a suspect roof well before any leaks appear.
Tenants in blocks of flats or apartments with a flat roof would normally find that the house insurance is included in the service charge.
For houses with non-standard flat roofs it may be worth consulting a specialist house insurance broker or insurance company familiar with providing cover for such properties.
Before buying a house with a flat roof it is important to get the roof surveyed. The flat roof may be difficult to access, for example, due to its height or the lack of an access hatch. A standard homebuyers survey does not include the surveyor getting onto the roof, or even getting up a ladder, though an examination through binoculars may or may not be carried out. It is therefore worth considering a specialist flat roof company to carry out a more detailed roof survey.
Having a proper examination by a flat roofer will tell you a lot more about the life expectancy of the roof. It may be possible to ascertain the type of roofing felt used which will have a big impact on the life expectancy of the roof. In addition the roofer can give an estimate of the likely cost of renewal of the roof. Renewal costs can be hard to estimate without knowing the condition of the decking and timber beneath the roofing felt.
If the roof has failed in one or two areas only the chances are that the whole roof will still need renewing. However localised patch repairs are possible but the work will not be carried out under any guarantee. Where the outer membrane only is nearing the end of its usefulness, it can be acceptable to simply overlay the existing roof.
If the roof does require renewal it can be an opportunity to add extra insulation (whilst maintaining adequate ventilation). Insulation reduces heat loss in winter and heat gain in the summer. Modern 'high performance' roofing felts, or reinforced bitumen membranes, give greater life than older materials. Bear in mind that there are alternative coverings for flat roofs such as fibreglass and rubber (EPDM).
It is adviseable to check that any roofing contractor you do employ has the appropriate level of public liability insurance. Its also helpful to know if they are members of a recognised trade association, such as the Flat Roofing Alliance (FRA).
A well constructed flat roof will have a slope (pitch) of at least 1 in 80. Roofs that do not have the correct fall will suffer from ponding; standing water that does not drain. The roof should have adequate drainage and guttering. Conventional eaves gutters eliminate the problem of water leaks that can occur from internal outlets fitted on flat roofs. Roof gutters and outlets should be kept free from debris and guards fitted where necessary.
When buying a house with a flat roof do ask the vendor if they have had the roof renewed and when, and whether they have kept the receipts. Its possible that the roof may still be under guarantee. Many roofing contractors offer guarantees on new flat roofs - generally five years in duration but sometimes longer. In addition there may be an Insurance Backed Guarantee (IBG) meaning that the roof is covered for a specified time by an insurance company; reassuring should the roofing company that carried out the work no longer be trading.