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What insurance do I need for building works?

Anyone who has been through building works knows nothing ever goes to plan. Even with the best intentions; walls can collapse, pipes can be drilled through and a neighbour’s property can be damaged. 

Many homeowners don’t realise that your house insurance will not cover you for home improvement disasters if the insurance company hasn’t been notified first. If you or a contractor goes ahead and damages your property for the purpose of building works, without telling your insurer, then it could void your policy.

While you might be great with a hammer and a saw, are you confident you can cover the cost of any accidental damage you cause when doing some house repairs? Full accidental damage insurance can cover you for DIY disasters such as drilling though water pipes.

If you are planning more structural changes, you will need renovation insurance. Before any building work can begin, it is always best to check in with your home insurance company first. They will want to know what building work will be carried out in detail so that they can assess the risk to the property and the potential extra value that could be added once the work is complete.

Do I need extra Insurance?
Do I need extra Insurance?

Most insurance companies will cover up to £20-30K worth of building work in your home. But once you go over that figure it becomes a major project and you might find you need to change insurers for the renovation period. It is also important to make sure your trades people or builders have the right insurance cover themselves so it’s not your household policy that takes the brunt of any claim. 

If your builders have public liability insurance and a contractor’s or risks policy, you can give their insurance details to your existing home insurance provider, who will be able to check what cover they have and how this applies to your policy.

If you are doing extensive work and have to move out, this can also affect your policy. While most insurance companies will cover you for moving out for up to 30 days, any longer periods will have insurance implications of leaving a property ‘vacant.’

The best advice is to inform your insurance company as soon as possible. Here are some of the types of building works that can increase the cost of insurance:

  • Building Extensions: knocking through walls can affect a building’s structure and create a greater risk.
  • Hot Works: anything that causes fire is considered to be hot works. This can be welding, grinding, the use of open flames or anything that uses the application of heat.
  • Plumbing: water damage can be expensive and lead to further problems with mould.
  • Wiring: at worst faulty electrics can be a fire hazard. Any significant installations need to be properly insured.