The free diy home improvement guide with answers to your questions on a wide range of do it yourself projects.


DIY and home insurance implications

In the UK many people take on DIY jobs themselves but could tackling jobs prove a false economy if something goes wrong? Attempts to save money with DIY rather than employing a professional could backfire if we’re forced to make an expensive home insurance claim.

Here we look at DIY, how to ensure you’re suitably covered in case things go wrong and how to avoid accidents in the first place.

Is DIY worth the risk?

A survey by AA home insurance found that 1 in 10 DIY projects go wrong and cost more than £100 to rectify.

By contrast, employing a professional, while probably more costly initially, could save you money in the long term. This is because most professionals have access to the correct tools and materials and they are usually experienced in dealing with the task at hand – meaning they know the risks ahead of time and get the job done quickly and efficiently. In the UK, it is actually illegal for an unqualified person to undertake certain work on electrical wiring or work on gas installations, making it essential to employ a qualified tradesman.

You should however, ensure that the professional you hire has suitable qualifications and insurance. Check to see whether the tradesman has business insurance and what it incorporates. For example, does it include employers’ liability insurance in case anyone working for the tradesman in your home is injured; and is there public liability insurance in case any damage is caused to your property?

Make sure you shop around before hiring a professional. Check into their experience; references; and ideally get a recommendation from someone you trust, such as a friend or family member so you have a clear idea of what to expect. Also ask for an estimate and a complete written contract so there are no disputes over payments.

What about home insurance cover?

Whether you’re tackling the job yourself or employing someone to do the work for you, it’s important to check you have suitable home insurance cover.

Contact your insurance provider ahead of time and consult it about the work that is about to be undertaken. Remember that any changes to the structure of your home, for example, are likely to affect its rebuild costs – which could mean that you require additional buildings insurance cover.

When carrying out DIY work you should pay particular attention to the following aspects of your cover:

Accidental damage cover:

Most home insurance policies offer some level of accidental damage cover, but this typically only protects electrical items. For DIY work, it is best to look for extended accidental damage cover that incorporates other contents in your home and protects them against risks such as paint spillages. Be sure to check the terms and conditions for policy exclusions – circumstances in which the cover does not apply.

Home emergency cover:

Some home insurance companies will help cover the costs of callouts for professional assistance in the event that you suffer a domestic emergency such as a burst pipe. Generally this is offered as an optional extra on policies for which you will have to pay an additional premium.

Is finding the right cover expensive?

You might think that finding extensive home insurance cover is expensive – but it is possible to find a competitive deal without paying over the odds. Use a comparison website to compare deals from a range of insurance companies – the leading websites compare policies from as many as 65 companies. By using these tools you can have peace of mind that you’re finding a competitive deal.

In addition, remember that premiums are based on the risk of you making a claim – and so taking steps to reduce this risk can lower your quotes. For example, consider adding security devices to your property, fitting smoke alarms or increasing your voluntary excess, while keeping it at a level you can comfortably afford, to reduce your home insurance costs.

How to avoid accidents

If you decide to tackle a DIY project then take precautions to avoid accidents:

- Carry out checks: Use a detector to look for hidden pipes and wiring behind walls before drilling.

- Clear the space: Move as many of your home contents as possible before undertaking a task, to ensure they are out of harm’s way. Anything that can’t be moved should be covered with a dust sheet to avoid paint spills.

- Dress appropriately: Make sure you invest in appropriate clothing including footwear with good grip and a face mask and goggles.

- Find a friend: Don’t tackle DIY alone – ask a friend or family member to assist you, especially if you need to use a ladder.

- Learn about the equipment you’re using: Don’t be tempted to use tools or equipment without reading the safety manual and instructions carefully.