Home renovation is usually a more cost-effective way of gaining more space or remodelling your home or rental property than moving to a new house or investing in a new property. The costs associated with a renovation can change depending on what you plan, but Homebuilding and Renovating magazine offers a rough estimate of what you might expect to pay per square metre.
One of the important extra costs to be factored in is home renovation insurance.
Why do you need it?
This specialist, standalone type of insurance is necessary because it is unlikely that your existing home building and contents insurance (or landlord insurance if it is a buy-to-let property) will provide the cover you need once extension, renovation or remodelling work is underway.
Unless the renovation work is relatively superficial, you need to inform your current insurers about the proposed alterations to the property. They might agree to your plans and maintain the necessary cover but are more likely to exclude any structural damage to the existing building, increase the amount you need to pay in premiums or remove cover altogether.
Whilst the danger of structural damage to the existing building may be one of the chief reasons for your insurers’ concerns, another is the high probability of the property being vacated whilst the building works are in progress.
An empty and unoccupied property is more vulnerable to the unwanted attentions of vandals, intruders, and arsonists than one which is lived in. This also applies to properties which people are working most daylight hours. The risk of unnoticed and reported maintenance problems in an unoccupied property also contribute to that greater vulnerability.
What is Home renovation insurance?
Specialist home renovation insurance is designed to plug those holes and maintain the cover you need for the property whilst the works are in progress.
In other words, protection against structural damage to the building is restored and, once renovation works are complete, you may increase your total building sum insured in the normal way, so that the extended or renovated property is once again protected by your regular home insurance or landlord insurance policy
Our purpose-designed renovation insurance policies also include provisions to ensure that the building and its contents remain fully protected whilst you or tenants are unable to live there and the premises are temporarily unoccupied.
It is in the very nature of any building project that timescales and schedules tend to overrun as delays or other complications arise, so renovation insurance is also designed to be sufficiently flexible to allow extensions of the period of cover that may be needed.
That same flexibility also ensures that you may arrange cover for only so long a period as you actually need it – if the works are scheduled for completion in just three or six months, for instance, you may buy home renovation insurance for just that length of time, rather than the full 12 months customarily required by other forms of general insurance.
Finally, domestic renovation insurance is suitable for the protection of property which its owner-occupier intends to live in once again after the works are finished or for one that is to be let to tenants.
Protecting your home during the renovation.
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.
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
- 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.
Adding additional security
Undertaking significant renovations just might give you the opportunity to address previous security concerns you may have had 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 into an ensuite bedroom wall, as this will be harder 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
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.
Do I need renovation insurance?
Unless you are planning no more than a cosmetic lick of paint to improve the appearance of your property, you are likely to need renovation insurance if you are planning an extension or any form of renovation works that involves structural alterations or a potential impact on the existing structure of the building.
Your existing property insurance is likely to exclude loss or damage caused to the existing structure of the building whilst it is being renovated and almost certain to exclude any cover at all for the new building works.
Separate, specialist, standalone renovation insurance, on the other hand, ensures that cover is not only maintained for any loss or damage to the existing structure but also extends to the new building works in progress.
Instead of relying on any insurance which your building contractor may claim to have, you arrange renovation insurance to cover the costs of work that might not come up to scratch and needs to be taken down and reinstated.
Renovation insurance also provides cover against the risk of theft, loss or damage of materials and supplies stored on the building site, together with any tools, plant or machinery you may own.
Last – but by no means least – is the importance of public liability insurance, providing you indemnity against claims from third parties who may be injured or suffer property damage as a result of building works on your property, together with the appropriate level of unoccupied property insurance whilst the premises you own are uninhabitable or unusable.
Here at UKinsuranceNET, we have a team of experienced advisors who are happy to take your call and discuss your renovation insurance needs. Give the office a call today on 01325 346328.