CILA - The Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters

Special Interest Group:High Net Worth and Specie

Rebuilding valuations to listed buildings in England and Wales and Ireland - Philip Lowe

CILA High Net Worth SIG members have been given a crash course in rebuild valuations to listed properties, with examples of significant underinsurance issues and potential pitfalls to avoid.

Philip Lowe, an experienced management surveyor and owner of Nelson & Co International Valuers and Risk Management Consultants, took members through the UK’s eccentric heritage listings system and with a keen eye, pointed out the tell-tale details to look out for in a listed property which, if damaged, tend to shoot up the cost of rebuilds.

Internal features such as fireplaces, cornicing, ceiling roses, wall decorations and staircases will all add significantly to a property’s rebuild valuation, said Mr Lowe, who added an anecdote from a grade 2* listed home in Gloucestershire recently.

“The owners had been having a dinner party and decided to light a fire in the evening, which caused some smoke damage,” he said. “This resulted in a fine level of soot covering the walls. Not in itself a huge claim you might think, but the house was also open to the public and the walls were covered with 18th century brushed silk. The cost per room for specialist cleaning services was in the region of £150 000.”

External features provided similar challenges, said Mr Lowe. “External features are items which would add significantly to your basic rebuilding costs, which are bricks, mortar, roof and the other standard points.” The external features Mr Lowe was concerned about include entrances and porticos, specialist outside wall renders and so on. He used an example of a Corinthian column portico on a house which he valued at £2000 per square meter for rebuilding. More elaborate examples such as a unique Oriel window came in at £500 000.

Other structures included within the “curtilage” or as the dictionary describes “the enclosed property” are often individually listed such as fountains, gazebos and even a bridge. Gates, said Mr Lowe, were also decent example of materials which can be surprisingly expensive and often at risk of theft. “Ornate gates are very common on country houses around the country. Go to the reclamation yards, you’ll find a small set of wrought iron gates will set you back £10 000.”

Other examples of property or structures within the curtilage which often require valuation for rebuild costs include coach houses, stables and courtyards, said Mr Lowe. “That is something you must take into account, if there is a listing for a stable block or a coach house, you have to pay attention to the interior. A lot of these structures will have the original 18th century stalls.

Finally, Mr Lowe told the story of a client’s property which he had valued in the ancient Italian city of Assisi. The house, although relatively modest in size, had been painstakingly renovated by its owner for five years who had used historic and rare materials such as 2nd century Roman columns. “Before I arrived, this home had a sum insured of around £800 000 for the property,” explained Mr Lowe, who also pointed out that aside from the high value interior and exterior, the property had restricted access, thus increasing the risk of total loss in the event of fire.

Needless to say, the sum insured for rebuild costs at this home were subsequently advised significantly upwards.

Ralph Savage

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