Quote Ref: WS1

Protecting your home during renovations

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There are two important aspects to protecting your home during renovations:

  • making sure that you have recognised the additional risks that renovation often brings with it, then taking steps to protect yourself against those accordingly; 
  • using the renovation as an opportunity to build additional longer-term property security measures into your home.

Renovations security

Almost inevitably, having renovations done around your home can result in additional risks arising.

These often relate to the perils of things such as fires being started by contractors, electrical mishaps, accidental damage to the structure by plant, water ingress and so on.

To those risks needs to be added those associated with the rather sad fact that many thieves and burglars rub their hands in glee when they see a property under renovation. That’s because they may be able to take advantage of opportunities arising from reduced security and perhaps the absence of the normal residents while the work is underway.

There are a few basic steps you can take to try and protect yourself from at least some of these risks:

  • thoroughly check all of your contractors and their sub-contractors, and make sure they are fully and legally registered with appropriate professional bodies; 
  • be sure that you have inspected copies of their various forms of professional insurance. If they accidentally cause a major problem to your property, you will want to be certain that you have some way of recovering the costs from them;
  • ask them to confirm that none of their personnel has current criminal convictions;
  • discuss the work you are having done with your property insurance provider. Major renovations may typically require additional cover in the form of renovation insurance;
  • if you are vacating the property whilst work is underway, consider removing all of your most valuable possessions and put them into storage;
  • consider installing a range of additional security devices if access to your property is temporarily made easier as a result of the work. Motion detectors and internal cameras are just two things to consider.

Building in additional security

This is a big subject and cannot be easily covered in a brief article of this nature.

Suffice it to say that undertaking significant renovations just might give you the opportunity to address previous security concerns you may have had arising from the basic design of your property.

Your opportunities for improving your property security here might include:

  • building in a professional-standard safe for your most precious items (experts recommend building a safe in to an ensuite bedroom wall, as this will be less easy for a burglar to access); 
  • installing additional reinforced doors to your most vulnerable access points;
  • removing or re-siting “obstacles” which might prove to be an ideal hiding point for thieves trying to avoid visibility from your property or that of your neighbours – an example might be moving that small outhouse to another location further away from your back door;
  • installing new security locks;
  • putting in external lighting and motion detectors;
  • installing porch lighting, so that you can clearly see who is at the door before you decide whether or not to open it to them; 
  • improving the security of the access to your garage from outside and from your garage into the main house if the two are integral; 
  • closing off or otherwise securing floor-level access to underground cellars or old coal storage areas under your property; etc.

Although most of us prefer to concentrate on the visible lifestyle benefits arising as a result of property renovation, the question of security shouldn’t be overlooked.

Further reading: Home improvements and renovations - what you need to know about insurance.