When people look to buy or rent a home, they know their budget and taste. Brick homes offer old-fashioned elegance. A wood frame home offers a less expensive, easy to maintain alternative. The taste preference many not be a good idea, however, based on where the home is located. Homes made or brick versus those with a wood frame face different perils that can have a significant affect on homeowners’ policy premiums and repair bills.
Brick homes are cheaper to insure in some areas and wood frames in others. Geographic location and likely perils are big factors when trying to figure which building type (brick versus wood) makes sense for an area and is cheaper to insure.
Different construction methods have pros and con in different parts of the country. Here is a look at some of the factors that influence insurance costs based on brick versus wood construction materials:
Fire Damage: It may seem like wood homes would be more likely to suffer fire damage. However, most fires start inside the home itself. A kitchen fire can happen in any residence, so can electrical fires, so whether brick versus wood house material was used in construction is not much of a factor for fire coverage in many areas. The exception is for homes in an area prone to brush fires. Brick homes do fare a little better, but again the costs for covering a loss are not that different. The brick walls remain standing, but, like a wood home, the roof and contents may not be saved.
Wind Storms and Tornadoes: Disaster photos in the news after large tornadoes show splintered wood piles that used to be homes. They clearly depict that wood frame homes do not withstand windstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes better than brick ones. While wind damage can occur to roofs on any type of house, brick homes will not be a total loss from wind. (Be aware that flooding, which created a lot of the damage after Hurricane Katrina, requires separate coverage than what is provided on a homeowners policy.)
Earthquake Coverage: The price for earthquake coverage is considerably higher in California and other Pacific Rim areas where they are a frequent peril. However, earthquakes happen all over the U.S. There are countless examples, such as when the Washington Monument was damaged by a 5.8 Virginia one in 2011 and the continuing swarm of earthquakes in Oklahoma this year. Purchasing earthquake coverage for brick homes is costly since they do not hold up well in temblors. In fact, brick homes cannot legally be built in areas heavily prone to earthquakes or they must be retrofitted in others. Wood frame homes may be cheaper to cover, but earthquakes damage them and the belongings in them, too
Replacement Cost and Home Age: Brick homes tend to be stately and elegant, and old. They offer great insulation from heat. They are also very expensive to fix in the event of a loss, so they can cost more to insure in areas that do not face a lot of perils from Mother Nature. Older wood frame homes are also more expensive to insure than newer wood homes unless there have been improvements done. Houses with out of date electrical, plumbing, heating, air conditioning and types of windows will cost more.
Deciding where to live is a big decision. While it is nice to focus on the brick versus wood exterior of a home, take the time to find out what the insurance claims experience is in the area, even theft rates. For example, all of California may face an earthquake peril, but it is a good idea to know if a home is near a fault line or on soil that will probably liquefy in a quake. Be aware that the perils in the area, as well as whether the construction is wood frame versus brick, affect insurance premium costs.
By Dyanne Weiss