Does home insurance cover DIY?

Home improvements can make your house a home, but do they affect your home insurance? Find out how to make sure you’re covered and the best way to prepare for DIY work.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 24 January 2022  | 4 mins read

How does DIY affect your home insurance?

Although home renovations can be a great way to spruce things up and add value, DIY jobs also increase the likelihood of accidents and damage happening to your home.

It only takes one clumsy moment for paint to be spilled on the carpet or a ladder to accidentally be put through a window.

To cover mishaps like this you’ll usually need to have accidental damage cover with your home insurance policy. But exclusions may apply, so it’s best to compare and check policies when you’re taking out cover. However, damage won’t be covered if it’s caused by your negligence.

It’s worth noting that you’ll want this type of cover on both your buildings and contents insurance to make sure you’re fully protected for DIY mishaps.

And if you’re going to be taking on bigger DIY projects that involve structural work, you’ll need to let your insurer know. You might find you need to take out separate cover.

Key points

  • Your insurer won’t need to be told about simple DIY tasks and cosmetic changes
  • Insurance providers need to know about any work that increases the value of your home or affects its structure
  • You’ll need to include accidental damage cover on your home insurance policy to cover DIY accidents
  • If you’re negligent or do tasks yourself instead of using a qualified professional this may invalidate your policy

Do I need renovation insurance?

This will depend on the type and scale of the work you’re doing, and particularly if you’ll be making any structural changes - most standard home insurance won’t cover this and it could even invalidate your policy.

Before you begin, check with your home insurance provider to see if you’re covered. If you’re not covered by your current home insurance, you can take out renovation insurance.

This is a specialist type of insurance for home renovation. It often includes extra cover like public liability insurance, accidental damage and cover for tools and building materials.

Do I need to tell my insurer if I’m doing DIY work?

If you’re just making cosmetic changes like redecorating, this won’t affect your insurance, so you don’t need to tell your insurer.

But as accidents can happen all too easily with DIY projects, it’s a good idea to take out accidental damage cover just in case.

On the other hand, if you’re doing bigger projects that involve structural work, like knocking down walls, you’ll need to let your insurer know before you start.

If you’ve got any doubts about whether you’ll be covered for the work you’re planning, it’s always best to contact your insurer to check first.

Why do I need to tell them?

You’ll need to tell your insurer if you’ll be doing structural work for a number of reasons.

Not least is that if you don’t inform them you could end up invalidating your policy, leaving you unable to make a claim if something happened. For instance, if you were burgled.

Insurers will also want to know about any structural work because it increases the risk of an accident happening, so there’s more chance that you’ll need to make a claim.

And if your work will involve various tradespeople coming into your home it could mean windows and doors are left open, which would make your home less secure.

For these reasons, most standard home insurance policies won’t cover your home and its contents while this type of work is going on - this is where renovation insurance comes in.

Does home insurance cover DIY electrical work?

If you need electrical work done in your home, you should always use a qualified electrician to make sure it’s done safely.

Faulty wiring can be an accident waiting to happen, so if you attempt to do electrical work yourself you may invalidate your home insurance.

This could leave you unable to make a claim if something like a fire happened due to unsafe or incorrect wiring.

It’s always best to stay on the safe side and use a qualified tradesperson with liability insurance.

Do I need planning permission for a DIY project?

This depends on the project you’re planning to do. If the changes you’re making will involve building work to extend or alter your home, then it’s likely you’ll need planning permission.

Examples of when you might need planning permission include:

  • Constructing a new building on your property
  • Extending or altering the structure of your home
  • Changing the way a building’s used, for example turning a commercial building into a home
  • Doing work that would affect the stability of your home, like removing or altering internal walls
  • Carrying out work on a listed building or on your home if it’s in a conservation area

If you’re not sure whether you’ll need planning permission, get in touch with your local council or check for guidance on their website, most have a dedicated planning permission section.

Do I need building regulations approval?

Even if you don’t need planning permission you may still need to get building regulations approval, depending on the work you’re doing.

Most repairs, maintenance and replacements in your home won’t need building regulations approval, including DIY jobs like redecorating.

But for any work that involves extending or altering the structure of your home, or adding anything that needs plumbing - like toilets, bathrooms or washing facilities - where there hasn’t been anything in place before, you’ll need to comply with building regulations.

The work will need to be formally checked at key points and meet all requirements when it’s finished before you can receive a building regulations completion certificate.

Are there any gardening jobs I need to let my insurer know about?

If you fancy doing some general gardening or anything cosmetic outside that doesn’t involve structural work, you won’t need to tell your insurer.

This is because it won’t have much impact on what your home’s worth.

But while upgrading your shed is usually fine if you’re planning on building larger structures, like a summerhouse or pergola, you might need to let your insurer know.

How can I prepare for DIY work?

While DIY can save you money and give you a big sense of achievement once it’s finished, it can be a bit daunting if you’re a newbie to home improvements.

To help your DIY go smoothly and avoid mishaps, try taking the following steps:

  • Before you start any drilling use a detector to check for hidden pipes and wiring
  • If you’re painting on top of old paint, sand with fine sandpaper first and then clean with sugar soap before you start to help give a professional finish
  • Wherever possible move your furniture and possessions out of harm’s way and cover anything that can’t be moved with a dust sheet before you get cracking
  • Wear the right clothing, including footwear with a good grip, and consider wearing a face mask and goggles
  • Ask a friend to help you, especially if a ladder’s involved, and don’t be afraid to seek advice if you’re not sure how to do something
  • Read all the safety manuals and instructions for tools carefully before you start using them
  • If a project’s not going to plan, know when to stop and call in the experts

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