16 May 2016

Three steps to bank holiday DIY success

With two long weekends to look forward to in May, many Brits will be planning to fire up the barbecue, spend more time in the garden or even indulge in a spot of DIY.

But what happens if – dare we say it – your efforts do not have the desired effect? Instead of lowering your insurance premiums or sprucing up your home, a DIY mistake could cause costly damage to you and your property.

1. Are you insured for a DIY disaster?

Not all home insurance policies will cover you if your home improvements go wrong, so check with your provider before rolling up your sleeves.

If you’re going to make home improvements, it’s likely you won’t be insured unless you have accidental damage cover, says Nationwide Product Manager Darren Black.

Last year, nearly half (48%) of Nationwide’s home insurance claims were for accidental damage.

‘The vast majority of claims related to DIY household maintenance and upgrading projects are accidental damage-related, so it’s important to check with your insurer that you are covered for accidental damage caused by home improvement,’ he notes.

2. Get to know your home

It’s important to know what your building is made of – and to share this with your provider.

‘If you’re fitting things like new sockets, lights or switches it’s very important to know what your building is made of so that you can select the appropriate product,’ says Dr Jim Glockling, Technical Director at the Fire Protection Association.

Some modern building methods such as timber frames meet the necessary fire regulations by creating fire compartments using a plasterboard envelope, he continues. Any hole made in this plasterboard wall will reduce its fire resistance and could mean that the house is no longer compliant with building regulations.

‘If you’re fitting a light switch on a stone wall you can use any one, but if it’s for a timber-framed building you need to use one with a proper fire rating that won’t weaken the wall’s fire resistance,’ Glockling advises.

You’ll also need to keep your provider up-to-date with any changes to the structure and value of your home, such as a new extension.

3. How DIY could reduce your premium

If you’re keen to start making upgrades in your home, don’t forget that relatively small changes could reduce your home insurance premium:

  • Installing new windows with better locks
  • Upgrading doors with better locks
  • Installing dead bolts on all exterior doors
  • Upgrading roof tiles
  • Fitting or upgrading smoke alarms.

Get the cover you need

Even if you’re a DIY expert, accidents can still happen. Before you begin, make sure that your home insurance covers you and that you’ve told your insurer about any changes to the property or any professional work you’re carrying out.

At Nationwide, accidental damage cover is included as standard in our Home Insurance policy, the highest level of cover, or can be added to Home Insurance Essentials. This is an optional extra and is available for an additional premium (variable price).

Find out more about Nationwide’s home insurance

Nationwide home insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited.

Other useful resources:

Unless you’re qualified, it’s best to leave gas and electrical work to professionals. 
Find a Gas Safe registered business
Find an electrician in England and Wales
Find an electrician in Scotland

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