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Standard vs Non-Standard Construction

(Last Updated: 19/07/2024)
7 min read
Key Takeaways
  • A standard construction property is a traditional bricks-and-mortar structure, with most homes in the UK falling into this category.
  • Non-standard homes make up around 1.5 million UK homes, and they differ from the usual building methods and materials (thatched roofs, flat roofs, prefabricated homes etc.)
  • Top Tip: If you're unsure about a property, get a thorough RICS level 3 survey so a professional surveyor saves you a lot of hassle down the road.
  • Standard construction homes attract more mortgage lenders and buyers, whereas a non-standard construction mortgage can be hard to get and you may need specialist maintenance.

You’re in the market for a new home or maybe looking to sell. What’s all this talk about standard and non-standard construction? It’s more important than you might think, and it can greatly impact everything from getting a mortgage to future resale value.

What is a standard construction property?

When most people think of these properties, they think of detached or semi-detached houses, but the term covers terraced housing too.

Got a standard or non-standard construction house?

Figuring out if your house is a standard or non-standard build can be confusing. Most materials apart from bricks could be considered non-standard. If you're trying to buy or sell your property, the first step is to get a house survey.

If you feel like you do not know where to start, get in touch and a member of our team will help you.

When we talk about a standard construction property, we’re talking about the traditional bricks-and-mortar setup. Most homes in the UK fall into this category, which makes getting a mortgage easier and generally ensures a stable property value.

  • Materials: Typically, these homes are built with bricks, stone, or concrete blocks for the walls, and they have a tiled roof.
  • Structure: The framework is usually made of timber or steel, but the key is that it follows conventional building practices.
  • Durability: These materials are long-lasting and have stood the test of time, making them a solid investment.
A standard construction semi-detached home. SAM Conveyancing helps you with your non-traditional construction home and other non-standard properties whether it's steel framed or timber framed

Standard construction' houses were built according to modern building standards. This can make mortgaging or insuring the property easier than a 'quirkier' period home, which helps when selling the property.

What are the British standards in construction?

British Standards (BS) are a set of guidelines and codes of practice that ensure quality and safety in construction. Some of the key standards include:

  • BS 8000: Deals with workmanship on building sites.
  • BS 5628: Specifies the use of masonry in buildings.
  • BS 8110: Covers the structural use of concrete.
  • BS 5250: Focuses on the control of condensation in buildings.

Following these standards is crucial for ensuring the safety, durability, and quality of construction in the UK. They cover everything from the types of materials used to the techniques employed in the building process.

16% of homeowners discover defects

In our recent survey, 16% of homeowners found defects; including 2% who were able to pull out of a bad purchase, 7% who were able to negotiate a better price, and sadly, 7% of homeowners who did not get a survey and discovered defects after the purchase.

12 of the 39 who remembered how much these defects cost to remedy spent over £5,000

Don't burn your money, book a survey.

RICS Surveyors | Fixed Fees | Same week availability | Access arranged


How to tell if I have a non-standard construction property

A standard construction property is mainly two storeys high, although lofts may be converted and dormer windows cut out of the pitched roof.

These properties can be found everywhere and may look very similar, especially on a council estate. However, on many estates, there are two or three types of properties which you can see at regular intervals, even in the same street.

These properties often have a small front garden that might be concreted or tarmacked over. They may have porches, but these tend not to extend beyond the main front building line. Double glazing is common, but you might still see original windows.

Non-standard construction properties are those that deviate from the usual brick-and-mortar method. Around 1.5 million homes in the UK fall into the non-standard construction homes category. Here’s how to spot them:

Look for homes built with concrete panels, steel or timber frames, thatched roofs, or even cob (a natural building material made from subsoil, water, and straw). Prefabricated homes (pre-fabs) and certain types of bungalows often fall into this category.

Lenders can be a bit wary of these properties because they might be less durable or harder to value accurately, making mortgages trickier to obtain.

A flat roof on a non-traditional construction property. SAM Conveyancing helps with timber-framed houses, concrete housing systems and British iron on properties with our surveys

The difference between a standard and non-standard property

Here’s a quick comparison to give you a clearer picture of the standard and non-standard construction methods:

Construction materials

Standard materials: Brick or stone walls, concrete blocks, tiles.

Non-standard materials: Timber frame, steel frame, concrete panels, cob, thatch.


Standard: Slate or tiled roof (slate or concrete tiles).

Non-Standard: Thatched roofs, flat roofs (often with felt or membrane).

Structural frame

Standard: Steel or timber systems within traditional frameworks.

Non-Standard: Timber frames, steel frames, or even modular designs.

Durability and maintenance

Standard: Generally easier to maintain and more durable over the long term.

Non-Standard: This may require specialist knowledge to maintain and can have a shorter lifespan.

What issues does a post-1950s standard construction house have?

The older a property is, the more materials will be needed to maintain it. Although they were built to be robust, structural issues can arise.

Moss and algae can build on the roofs of older properties, mainly caused by bird droppings allowing plant spores to take root. Over the years, the build-up attacks the roof tiles and mortar and leads to leaking and damp. The time and costs involved in repairing these issues can vary depending on the severity of the roof's condition

You would assume that most of these properties have been re-wired electrically, but this is not always the case. The same can be said for double-glazing windows; some houses still have original single-glazing which is prone to damp, condensation, and draughts. However, even if replacement windows have been installed, if it was done badly then damp can still become a factor.

Condensation on a window in a steel framed house. SAM Conveyancing's surveys assess concret houses, timber frame houses and non standard roof materials

Buying and selling a standard construction home

You're usually in luck when dealing with a traditional construction home:

Mortgage friendly - mortgage lenders prefer these types of properties, making it easier to get a mortgage approved.

Resale value - a standard construction home will typically hold its value well and attract a broader range of buyers.

Insurance - they're easier for insurance providers to insure due to the predictable nature of the construction process and materials used.

Buying and selling a non-standard construction home

Non-standard construction houses can be a bit of a mixed bag. Here’s what you need to know:

Specialist surveyor - hiring a surveyor who understands non-traditional construction properties is a must. They will be able to spot issues that a regular surveyor might miss.

An in-depth structural survey - a RICS level 3 survey will give you a detailed understanding of the non-standard construction property condition and any potential problems.

Mortgage challenges - be prepared for a more complicated mortgage application and approval process. Not all mortgage providers are comfortable with lending for non-standard construction houses.

Finding buyers - when selling, it might take longer to find a buyer because of the risks and mortgage difficulties.

Two people looking over a mortgage broker agreement. SAM Conveyancing and their surveys help with concrete houses, steel frame houses, and our specialist mortgage lenders can also help with a mortgage on a non standard construction home

If the property in question has been extensively refurbished and/or has been extended, either vertically or horizontally or is very large, you would get a Building Survey; this is also the case if there are several outbuildings on the plot.

Get your survey sorted

Whether you have a standard or non-standard construction house, and if the property has had work done, you should get a survey done for peace of mind.

Our expert RICS surveyors will highlight any potential issues and provide a report for you.

RICS Surveyors | Fixed Fees | Same week availability | Access arranged

Frequently Asked Questions
Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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