Home Improvements or Renovations

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23rd March 2016
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1st December 2016

Home Improvements and Renovations Advice

If you are considering giving your home a face-lift, either with minor cosmetic improvements or larger structural changes, there are many things you need to take into account before starting the process, including the costs, planning and what advice you will need from your broker or insurer regarding your policy and how it may affect your cover.

Your home plays a pivotal role in the unity of your family circle and is the greatest single investment many of us have. Getting any renovations right is essential and needs to be thought through carefully and with help from others, giving guidance and alternative ideas, keeping everything fresh. Stress levels can increase, putting pressure on all concerned, so taking time is vital and the result will hopefully be amazing, adding value to your property, remembering to update your building sums with your insurer.

If significant structural changes (walls being taken down or adding an extension, including conservatories) are being carried out, depending on the cost, some insurers will not offer or continue cover. In addition, if the property is not going to be occupied for the duration of the work, this could also severely affect the insurance policy as many insurers will not offer cover whilst the home is vacant, even though the builders will occupy the property (during the day) whilst carrying out the changes. This is were a specialist insurer needs to be involved, covering both the unoccupied and works elements of the risk. In some cases, the contents will not be covered unless, under certain circumstances they are but insurers will impose clauses and higher excesses to cover the inflated risk aspect.

In addition, when choosing a building firm to undertake the improvements, sight of their insurance documents are recommended, to check they are covered, should something unexpected happen. If they are not willing to produce the insurance schedule, you should seek alternative builders. You must also ensure the level of Liability is sufficient to cover the cost of your renovations. If you are unsure about the level of cover, take a copy and refer to your broker or insurance adviser. If the workmanship is not to the level expected or deteriorates once the work has settled, the chances of being in a position to resolve the problem will be reduced, if the building firm have no insurance. However, you should always give the building firm an opportunity to rectify the problem before seeking legal advice.

Finally, some builders will require a contract to be signed by all parties which may include JCT (Joint Contract Tribunal).  The JCT is an independent organisation which provides contract terms which apply to work of various levels of complexity, from minor works to the planning and construction of your property. Usually a JCT will come in 3 different forms and each specific to the type of renovations being carried out. Some insurer may not offer cover if a JCT has been enforced and signed. Before finalising the contract, you should first contact your insurer for advice.

Thing to consider before going ahead with any changes to your property

  • Take time to plan
  • Think about the budget you have for the renovations and try and stick to it
  • Research the internet for ideas and helpful tips
  • If you intend to carry out the work yourself, make sure you are adequately trained, otherwise costs could osculate
  • Obtain at least 3 estimates from different building firms
  • Do not rush the work – take time
  • Is planning permission required
  • Have you spoken to your insurance broker or insurer for advice
  • Keep your neighbours informed to minimise frustrations
  • Enjoy the experience and work through changes together

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