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Are you renovating this year? What you need to know about insurance

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How did you spend the quiet winter months this year – curled up by a fire reading? During your browsing online or in a magazine, perhaps you came across and were inspired by some of the home renovation and extension projects described. 

Or your dreams might have taken on a completely practical approach as you studied the complete guide to renovating a house published by Homebuilding & Renovating on the 3rd of December.

If so, you were probably in very good company, since an article in the Independent newspaper earlier in the year revealed that the number of homeowners choosing to renovate or extend their current home rather than move to a new one has seen a five-fold increase in the last four years alone.

The need for insurance

Where you might steal a lead over other homeowners, though, is in recognising the need for specialist insurance if you are renovating or extending your home – appropriately named renovation insurance.

If your renovation plans include little more than a quick lick of paint, there is unlikely to be any problem. But if they involve the structural alterations needed for significant renovation works or the building of an extension, your current home insurance is likely to prove inadequate.

Indeed, the fine print of your policy is likely to reveal that cover for the existing structure and fabric of your home is excluded once such structural alterations are in hand.

The building works required for an extension, or major renovations may also mean that you need to move out of your home for a month or two. As far as your insurer is concerned, that means that your home is temporarily unoccupied – depending on the particular policy, once no one has been living there for longer than 30-45 consecutive days, your home is considered to be unoccupied. That is the case even when builders and other tradespeople may be in attendance more or less every working day.

The unoccupied property insurance typically incorporated into a standalone extension or renovation insurance policy restores the protection that your home continues to need.

Extension and renovation insurance 

Renovation insurance ensures that the existing structure and fabric of your home, together with its contents, remain safely protected throughout the duration of any building works.

It is standalone insurance which, unlike most other types of general insurance, may be purchased only for so long as you need it. If the proposed schedule of works is expected to last only six months, for instance, you may arrange cover for that period only, rather than a full 12 months.

But it is also sufficiently flexible to be extended if the need arises – your building programme takes longer than expected or overshoots the completion date, for example.

By continuing to provide cover while your home is technically unoccupied, this standalone insurance also maintains the protection needed for your home and its contents – and ensures that you meet the condition invariably imposed by any mortgage lender that the building remains adequately insured at all times.

Further reading: Home renovation insurance FAQs