Category Archives: Home insurance

Avoid a DIY botch job this bank holiday!

diyThis weekend, chances are you’ll either be jetting off for some late summer sunshine, sewing nametags into school uniforms or indulging in a spot of DIY. The three-day August bank holiday is the perfect chance to carry out a big project or several odd jobs – but, unfortunately, this favourite hobby can all too often end in tears!

Before you get started, read our guide to make sure your bank holiday plans are brilliant, not botched!

The best laid plans

Don’t jump straight in without careful planning and preparation. Think about what you need to do and how long it’s going to take; many DIY projects fail because they end up being rushed. Don’t be embarrassed about popping to your local DIY store and asking for advice – staff will be happy to help and you’ll probably come away with tips for other tasks, too!

Well equipped

Line up in advance all the tools needed for the job. If you don’t already have a toolbox, buy an inexpensive one and fill it with basics such as a hammer, pliers, crosshead and flathead screwdrivers, a measuring tape, superglue and a spirit level, as well as spare nails and screws in a range of sizes.

A clean sweep

Think the cleaning is only done after DIY? Wrong! Cleaning the area you are working in beforehand will make the job go more smoothly and result in a nicer finish. Wash any surfaces that are to be painted, spend time masking off floors and covering furniture and vacuum up dust as you go along.

Dressed for success

It’s obvious that DIY should be done in old clothes, but think about safety too. Don’t wear loose clothes that could get caught in power tools and tie long hair back. Dust masks are a good idea when sanding and painting, whilst safety goggles are a must when using electric tools and drills.

diy-paintingQuality counts

When it comes to painting, budget isn’t always best. Very cheap paints can require more coats, whilst poor quality brushes will leave you peeling bristles out of your handiwork. Opt for at least the mid-priced range and always clean brushes and trays thoroughly after use.

Measuring up

Measure twice, cut once, so the saying goes. Be thorough and don’t guess. Err on the side of caution and take a bit off at a time if you’re not confident – you can always cut more off but it’s harder to stick some back on! 

Start small

If you’re new to DIY, tackle a few small jobs first to get used to your tools and gain confidence. Re-grout tiles, put up a shelf or repaint a table before attempting to replace a radiator or install a new kitchen! A good tip is to practice on jobs in small rooms or out-of-the-way corners, such as the downstairs loo. If things go wrong, it’s easily covered up and not on show in the best room in the house! 

Ask the experts!

It’s always advisable to hire a qualified professional if the job involves electrics or plumbing and, similarly, if DIY just isn’t your ‘thing’, admit defeat and stick to what you’re good at! Wait until you have several small tasks in need of attention and ask friends or relatives to recommend an odd job man (or woman!), many of whom charge a daily or half daily rate. Thousands of people are admitted to hospital every year following DIY disasters, and a botched job could even invalidate your home insurance, so don’t let your pride lead to a monumental fall!

Also see: Decorating dos and don’ts

Must-do winter maintenance

winter-maintenanceWith another big freeze on the way, will your house stand up to the strains of winter? Here are some must-do maintenance jobs to keep your home in tip-top shape through winter:

Heating up nicely

The middle of a snowstorm is the last time you want your heating to pack up, but you can reduce the chances of that happening with good care. Arrange for your boiler, central heating, fire and gas appliances to be checked once a year by a Gas Safe registered engineer, who can pick up early signs of wear and tear as well as detect potential dangers. If you take a winter holiday, set your heating on a timer to come on for at least an hour a day to prevent pipes freezing when you’re away.

A clean sweep

On a cold winter’s day, there’s nothing more cheering than cosying up in front of a real fire. But it’s essential to maintain your fire, chimney and vents properly, to check for blockages such as birds’ nests and to remove creosote deposits, a potentially lethal by-product of wood burning. Call in a professional chimney sweep at least once a year and take extra care if you have a thatched property.

Don’t lag behind

home-renovations

Check the insulation in your loft and make sure it’s up to scratch. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a quarter of a home’s heat can be lost through an un-insulated loft, leaving you shivering and sending your heating bills, well, quite literally through the roof! Lag all pipes and tanks and make sure roof insulation is topped up to the recommended 270mm.

Up the garden path

Maintaining the outside area of your property is just as important as the inside. Make sure the driveway or path to the front door is clear of moss and fallen leaves to prevent the risk of a family member or a visitor slipping, and light the way with adequate outdoor lighting. Not only will it help you stay safe but it will deter burglars, who like dark, wintry nights. Keep a bag of rock salt in the garage or shed so you can grit the path in case of snow or ice.

All right on the tiles

Keep guttering clear of leaves and debris and check the roof for loose or broken tiles or problems with the pointing. Don’t risk injury by climbing onto the roof yourself; take a look from ground level and call in a reputable roofer to check out suspected issues and make repairs.

Storing up trouble

Don’t forget outbuildings and boundaries. Check locks on gates and look out for potential weak spots in fencing that might not withstand the next gale. Inspect the shed for leaks and think about when you might need to replace the roof. A felt roof typically supplied with many sheds will last about five years, whereas a rubber roof could last 40.

Clear the clutter

clutterDark winter days are a good chance to de-clutter your home ahead of the spring clean. Stop hanging onto things ‘just in case’ and go through the house one room at a time. Fill boxes for charity, sell them online or find a car boot sale in your local area – just get rid of the stuff you don’t use!

And if you’re still not motivated to do a little maintenance, remember that failing to look after your home properly could invalidate your home insurance policy if you ever have to make a claim – so keep up with the upkeep today!

Why DIY could cost you dear!

home-insuranceWhat kind of DIY enthusiast are you? Do you do it yourself because you love fixing, painting and building things? Or is your enthusiasm more about the pounds you’re saving by foregoing a professional job?

If it’s the latter, the bad news is that your dates with DIY could end up costing you a lot more than you expect. This is because if the job goes wrong, the repairs might not be covered by your home insurance, leaving you facing a potentially hefty bill.

Home insurance covers the policyholder for events such as loss, damage or theft. But if the loss or damage is caused by the policyholder him or herself, the insurance company might not be so eager to pay out! If you have accidental damage cover or household emergencies cover included with your policy, you might assume that you can make a claim if your have-a-go handiwork proves less than happy. But DIY disasters are a real grey area, with many insurance companies rejecting claims for damage that the homeowner has caused.

The key to any claim is reading through your policy thoroughly and understanding which eventualities you are and aren’t covered for. It’s likely that your insurance policy will extend to repairing a pipe if you accidentally hammer a nail through it, but not to bigger scenarios such as fixtures or furnishings ruined due to poor workmanship or damage caused to mechanical fittings or the structure of the property.

If you do DIY regularly, it could be worth having a chat with your insurer to find out what your policy entails and whether you can add extra cover to a basic policy to protect against small glitches. As a rule of thumb, however, it is always wise to leave mechanical and electrical jobs to the professionals. Not only is it highly unlikely you’d be covered for damage whilst carrying out such jobs, they could prove risky! Always keep boilers and electricals maintained and serviced where appropriate; if you or an engineer has an accident working on poorly maintained equipment, it could be another reason for a claim to be withheld.

And whether you do it yourself or call in the experts, don’t forget to notify your home insurers of major changes. Adding a kitchen extension or converting a garage to a spare bedroom might not seem relevant at the time but could make a big difference to your policy if you later have to make a claim.