The real test of any insurance cover is how it delivers when you need to make a claim. One of the most devastating situations to experience has to be a fire at home. And if your home is a listed building, the impact and restoration process is even more complicated.
Here we share a case study from specialist insurers, Ecclesiastical – the restoration of Cholderton House following a dramatic fire.
Cholderton House, a large privately-owned Grade II* listed manor house, was built in 1690 and has been the home of the Cornelius-Reid family, its current owners, for 35 years. This early Georgian home, with its original oak staircase and panelling had changed little in layout and construction since it was built. The family grew up enjoying its space, its beauty and its heritage.
At approximately 7am on Tuesday 6th March 2012, a dramatic fire swept through all three floors and the roof. At the height of the fire 12 fire engines worked on the house; local roads closed for safety. Mrs Cornelius-Reid was thankfully unharmed, yet badly shocked and shaken.
Left with a handful of personal possessions, she stood in front of her devastated home, now a mere shell of fragile, unsupported walls.
From this point, the insurance team took control. Within hours, Ecclesiastical’s Technical Property Claims Manager was on site to look after Mrs Cornelius-Reid. Aware of the practical and emotional needs faced by families in such situations, essentials such as clothes, cash and a credit card were arranged with immediate effect and alternative accommodation arranged nearby.
From a place of security and comfort, Mrs Cornelius-Reid, along with her three children, were able to consider the future for Cholderton House.
Making the decision to preserve their heritage
A specialist team was appointed to include:
- An architect specialising in the heritage field
- Mechanical and structural engineers
- Quantity surveyors
- And organisations such as Historic England to ensure continued Grade II* listing.
Keys to success at Cholderton House
Appointment of the right architect and contractor was now crucial to the project’s success. Ecclesiastical were looking for heritage expertise and capacity on large projects, specialist crafts contacts and significantly, someone who could empathise with the client’s needs.
For the next twelve months the details of design, approvals and permission to build were brought together. The team now included mechanical and structural engineers, quantity surveyors and organisations such as Historic England to ensure continued Grade II* listing.
Construction began and each detail prompted the question – “repair, reinstate or match?” The solution was a combination of these options, each suited to the specific need of the area of construction or piece of furniture.
In February 2015, nearly three years to the day of the fire, the Cornelius-Reid family returned to Cholderton House, working now on the interior decoration. A 17th century Grade II* listed manor house that went through the unthinkable has now been rebuilt – to schedule, to the high standards required of a listed historical building and within the insurance valuation.
The success of this restoration depended upon:
- Valuation accuracy
- Heritage experience
- Specialist architectural appointment
- Access to skills and materials
- Client empathy
- Immediate action
The full story of rebuilding Cholderton can be found here.