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Does home insurance cover DIY and building work?

DIY can be a great money-saving way of fixing up your property — but will your home insurance cover you if you take home improvements into your own hands?
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Does home insurance cover DIY and building work?

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For most of us, our home is the most expensive purchase we will ever make - so it’s important to protect it (and everything in it) with an adequate insurance policy.

And if you’re a handy homeowner that likes to dabble in DIY, you need to know that your insurance will cover you if anything goes wrong.

Is DIY covered on standard home insurance?

Do not assume that DIY accidents will automatically be included in your insurance policy. It’s important to check your policy documents carefully for any exclusions before you choose a policy, whether it's buildings or contents insurance. If you already have a home insurance policy you can contact your insurer and they will be able to clarify what’s included.

Basic buildings insurance will include cover for the bricks and mortar of your home, as well as permanent fixtures and fittings such as bathroom and kitchen units. Some buildings insurance policies cover you for accidental damage as standard, so you may be covered for a cracked sink or broken window caused by attempted home improvements — but it’s important to note not all policies will cover this.

It’s worth bearing in mind that your carpets are covered under contents insurance, so if you only have a buildings insurance policy you won’t be covered for all-too-common paint spills.

Standard contents insurance (without accidental damage cover) is unlikely to cover any of your belongings in the case of a DIY disaster. This basic level of cover will usually only cover your belongings in the case of fire or theft — so you’re out of luck if you put up a dodgy shelf and your antiques fall off it.

In short, standard home insurance policies without accidental damage cover are unlikely to cover you for any damage caused by DIY mishaps.

DIY and accidental damage cover

While basic home insurance policies usually won’t cover you in the event of a home improvement disaster, accidental damage cover could help in some situations.

Accidental damage cover is available as an add-on to both buildings and contents insurance policies, and can come as standard as part of more comprehensive cover.

While standard policies tend to cover factors such as storm damage, burglary, water leaks and fires, accidental damage cover extends the policy to include damage caused unintentionally by people in the home.

When you’re doing DIY, accidental damage on a buildings insurance policy could cover damage caused by drilling through a pipe or cable, for example. On a contents insurance policy, an accidental damage add-on could cover paint spilled on a carpet or couch.

As with any insurance policy, accidental damage cover may come with some exclusions so it’s important to check your policy or speak with your insurer.

Note that accidental damage covers accidents, not major damage like blowing your electrics because you tried to do something you were unqualified for. Some policies may also exclude damage caused by poor workmanship.

You should never attempt electrical, plumbing or gas work in your home — only a registered professional can carry out this work safely and issue the correct certificates. You could cause damage, invalidate your cover and end up liable for huge costs.

Building work and home insurance

As a general rule, minor cosmetic changes like redecorating will not affect your insurance policy, although you should take out accidental damage cover in case anything goes wrong.

However, if you are having major structural work done to your property you should inform your insurer. It’s unlikely your standard policy will cover your property while it’s undergoing major renovations, so your insurer may be able to extend cover — otherwise you might want to consider taking out a specialist policy.

If you’ve made major changes that would affect the rebuild cost of your home, your insurer may need to amend your policy to reflect this.

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