Home improvements and renovation insurance

Are home improvements, renovations and building work covered by your home insurance? Make sure you're covered while work's going on and afterwards.

Alice Morgan
Alice Morgan
Updated 25 May 2021  | 3 min read

Does home insurance cover home renovations?

Your home insurance is unlikely to cover you for the risks to your building during structural works, like an extension or loft conversion.

You might still be covered while smaller jobs like rewiring, plumbing or internal structural changes are going on, but the important thing is that you let your insurer know first.

Just 19% of 314 building insurance policies listed on Defaqto[1] include a minor building works limit – this is where you can get on with having work done (up to the value given in your policy) without telling your insurer.[1]

If your policy doesn’t have a minor building works clause, you must tell your insurer before work begins, or you could invalidate your cover.

Once your insurer knows about the work, it can tell you whether you’ll still be covered while it’s going on and afterwards.

Most will cover cosmetic work like kitchen or bathroom refits, but if the work’s extensive and your insurer can’t offer cover, you might have to look for a specialist renovation insurance policy.

Key points

  • Let your home insurer know before you begin any work
  • You won’t have to tell it if you’re just making cosmetic changes
  • Consider unoccupied property insurance if you need to leave your house empty while work's ongoing

Does your home insurer need to know about building work?

Yes. If you don’t let your insurer know before work begins, your policy could be invalid which might mean you’re unable to make a claim if you need to. For example, if there was a burglary during the work and the thieves gained entry though a removed door or window.

Renovations could affect the rebuild value of your home – that’s how much it would cost to reconstruct it from scratch.

Insurers use rebuild value to price your premiums. It’ll need to re-evaluate rebuild cost after renovating so you’re not underinsured.

You should speak to your insurer if you’re planning:

  • Structural alteration to the layout of your house e.g. removing a load bearing wall, an extension
  • Major structural renovations e.g. re-roofing, rewiring or re-plumbing
  • Loft, cellar, basement or integral garage conversions

It doesn’t need to know about:

  • Cosmetic improvements e.g. kitchen or bathroom refits
  • Redecorating

What does specialist renovation insurance cover?

Policies vary from insurer to insurer, but might include cover for:

What details will the insurer want to know?

You’ll need to tell the insurer some details about the planned work so it can give you a quote:

  • How long the work will take to complete
  • The cost
  • Whether you’ll be staying at the house or moving out during the work
  • Your builder's details
  • Whether they have public liability insurance

Will renovations increase the cost of my home insurance premium?

Our home insurance expert, Ceri McMillan says: “Buildings insurance covers the cost of repairing damage to the structure of your home. The amount covered is based on the cost of rebuilding your home from scratch.

“If the overall cost of rebuilding your home increases after renovation work, your premiums might go up. That’s because your insurer would have to pay more to rebuild your house if it were destroyed.”

Am I covered if I do the work myself?

If you're going to be getting the toolbox out, be careful. DIY is a notoriously contentious issue for home insurance claims.

For small jobs – like putting up a shelf – you won’t have to let your insurer know. But it’ll probably need to be informed if you’re altering a load bearing wall. If in doubt, call the insurer and check.

If your home insurance includes accidental damage cover, you'll be covered for minor mishaps like drilling through a pipe.

But if you botch a large DIY project that you're not qualified to be carrying out, you might have to pay out of your own pocket to put things right.

If you’re undertaking a large structural project yourself, you’ll likely need a self-build insurance policy.

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[1]Last checked 16 August 2022

Page last reviewed: 23 June 2022