No matter how adept you are with your hands, DIY projects can go wrong and end in complete disaster.
Sure, it’s a great way to save both time and money, but how do you face the reality of a home improvement project gone awry?
Having your insurer on speed dial isn’t going to help, because the reality is that most home DIY projects simply aren’t covered.
So before you dive headfirst into a complicated home renovation project, know how a DIY project can affect your homeowner’s insurance. We explain here.
Home Insurance and DIY: What’s Actually Covered?
Buying your first home is undoubtedly one of the biggest financial commitments you’ll ever make. So it’s only natural you’d want to protect this asset and its contents within.
This is where comprehensive home insurance is your safety net.
But before you set up for all your favorite home DIY tasks, it’s important to understand what you’re covered for.
Whether you have the cheapest home insurance or a comprehensive cover, here’s what you should know before diving into unpermitted work…
Standard Home Insurance
If you have taken out a standard home insurance policy, do not immediately assume that it includes cover for DIY accidents.
You’ll need to check all your documents thoroughly for any exclusions within the policy regarding DIY tasks. Otherwise, it’s wise to give your insurer a call and talk through your DIY plans and the cover you’re offered, if any.
Generally, a standard home insurance policy offers cover for the physical bricks and mortar of your property, as well as permanent fixtures, including kitchen and bathroom facilities.
This means you’ll be covered for accidental damage to standard parts of your building, such as a broken window or cracked bathtub.
However, other internal fixtures, such as your carpets, may not be covered. This is usually included in an additional contents insurance policy.
Standard Contents Insurance
A standard contents insurance policy without accidental damage cover means that none of your home’s belongings are protected.
In other words, a DIY disaster that wrecks your furniture or smashes your grandmother’s antiques is not covered. This level of cover is useful in cases of fire, flood damage, and theft.
So, to summarize: standard home insurance policies do not usually offer any cover for accidents related to DIY projects!
Accidental Damage Cover
A standard home insurance policy is not going to get you anywhere when it comes to a DIY disaster. But a policy add-on that could save the day in certain situations is accidental damage cover.
This type of cover is available as an add-on to most insurance policies. Often, accidental damage cover comes standard as part of a comprehensive home insurance policy.
This cover typically extends to accidents and mishaps caused unintentionally by people living in the home.
For example, this insurance add-on would cover damage to wiring or piping under a building insurance policy. Whereas it would cover damage to carpets, curtains, or furniture on a contents insurance policy.
How a DIY Project Can Affect Homeowner’s Insurance
Here are three common scenarios that could have a major effect on your home insurance policy when venturing into DIY territory:
1. Failure to Obtain a Permit
All too often, most DIY enthusiasts tend to underestimate the scope of a project. Others are keen to avoid the bureaucratic red tape that will hold up a project.
But, there are two major reasons why a building permit is required for any kind of building DIY project on your home.
The first is to ensure you aren’t breaking any local building codes or laws during your renovation. The second covers financial liability. In other words, the city or county knows who to blame in the event of a DIY disaster which affects your neighbors or local area.
The general rule-of-thumb with regards to DIY projects and permits is: when in doubt, find out!
2. Working in a Dangerous Environment
There’s a reason why qualified professionals are hired for major home renovation projects. These environments can be dangerous to work in and a professional has the skill to navigate this environment with safety.
The reality about DIY is that what may seem like a ”simple” task can end in complete disaster and put you in real danger.
This relates particularly to DIY projects involving small crawl spaces, roofing, electrical wiring, HVAC repair, and more.
False ceilings can be especially hazardous, as well as knocking down old walls and failing to recognize load-bearing beams.
In short, an insurance policy will not offer cover if you intentionally chose to DIY a project that includes working in a dangerous environment.
3. Incorrect Measurements
There is an important industry rule-of-thumb that enforces the concept of ”measure twice, cut once.” Most DIYers tend to ignore this rule, only to face an impending DIY disaster.
When it comes to a building project, a novice will most likely assume they have measured correctly the first time. When 9 times out of 10, this is not the case. This leads to the discovery that a pipe, drywall, or load-bearing beam has been cut too short.
When it comes to building work, especially framing, the accuracy of a reputable professional is unmatched. Mis-measures are difficult and costly to fix. Additionally, cutting corners can have catastrophic consequences, jeopardizing the integrity of your home’s structure.
In conclusion, it’s important to keep in mind that small cosmetic changes to your home will not affect your home insurance policy. But if you want to be safe, take out accidental damage cover!
With regards to major structural renovations, you should always inform your insurance company beforehand. This way your insurer may be able to extend your cover during this period in case anything goes wrong.
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