Both timber- and brick-based home construction methods offer unique strengths and weaknesses; however, generally speaking, it is less expensive to insure a brick house due to its resistance to some forms of property damage. Timber-framed homes are still the norm in most regions due to their comparatively simple construction and lower initial costs. Brick homes are still susceptible to earthquake damage, particularly in multistory structures without metal reinforcements. While the framing structure of a home plays an important role in its insurance cost, other factors such as the building's age, the quality of its electrical and plumbing systems, and the material of its roofing also play roles.
Timber-Framed Buildings and Insurance Costs
Timber-framed buildings cost more to insure for a host of reasons; one of the most important is the fact that timber framed structures are far less resistant to fire than those made of brick. There are a few other reasons that timber-framed structures require a higher insurance premium. For example, timber-framed buildings are more vulnerable to termite damage and high winds, particularly in older wood-framed homes. It is important to note that the building's value per square foot is usually far lower than that of a brick-framed-and-walled structure, and that a lower property value means a lower insurance payout in the event of total destruction. Due to the fact that the building itself is worth less, it may actually cost less per month to insure, albeit at a higher premium per dollar value of the home.
Why Timber Frames Remain Popular
Timber frames remain popular because they are less costly to transport, shape and install than brick or cement. Chemical treatment to timber also gives modern wood framed structures more resistance to rot, making it a more viable choice for high-quality structures. Timber-framed homes are significantly easier to renovate. Imagine how much easier it is to remove drywall, pull a few nails and move the studs than it is to break up a wall made of brick and mortar. Timber-framed structures are popular in colder climates because brick alone provides very little insulation and is tougher to attach insulation to. It is easier to install insulation between the studs in a timber building.
Insurance Cost Benefits of Brick Based Construction
In addition to the more widely known fire resistance of brick masonry structures, brick buildings are more resistant to wind damage. Tornadoes and hurricanes can throw objects at high speeds, which could easily damage wooden studs and plywood. By contrast, heavy brickwork is better able to resist such impacts. While brick structures can resist many forms of damage, home insurance is still worthwhile, since damage can occur and it can be costly to repair. Due to the fact that some insurance companies charge a premium for fire insurance on buildings further than 15 minutes away from the nearest fire brigade, the savings afforded by a brick frame structure is more noticeable in remote areas.
Earthquakes and Brick Construction
Brick construction has one major flaw not commonly found in timber-framed structures. Brick buildings fare poorly in earthquakes. It is possible to some extent to minimise damage caused to a brick building through the use of rebar internal reinforcement and specially designed earthquake-resistant foundations; however, traditional brick-and-mortar masonry construction does not stand up to the stresses involved in earthquakes very well. The reason brick tends to fail during earthquakes is because, while it has tremendous load-bearing strength -- strength that is transmitted up and down from the top of the column or wall to the ground -- it does not have much strength to resist horizontal movement, the kind of movement commonly associated with earthquakes.
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