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Do you need to let your insurer know if you're doing building work?

Home improvements are a great way to add value to your property. Whether you're refurbishing it to sell or just updating an old space, renovations can work wonders to improve your quality of living and your property's kerb appeal. Just remember that renovations come with certain risks and you need to have the right home insurance in place.

Why does your insurance company need to know about building work?

If you make changes to your home and don't let your insurance company know, your home insurance policy may become invalid. This means you may not be protected from things like fire, theft, water damage and so on.

It often comes down to the extent of the building work. While smaller, cosmetic tweaks to your home are unlikely to affect your cover, most insurers will want to know about larger projects and whether you're taking it on yourself or leaving it to the professionals.

Each insurer will have a different policy. For example, if you're adding a new bathroom, en suite or wet room, some insurers would need to be told because the number of bathrooms in your home is used to help calculate your premium. that may not be the case for all insurers, but it's always best to make sure by telling them about your plans.

Any work you carry out on your property has the potential to increase the value of your home and, therefore, the cost to rebuild it if it's damaged beyond repair. The higher the rebuild cost, the bigger the risk for insurers, which will need to be reflected in your premium.

Even if you're only spending money on your home to make it a nicer place to live – as opposed to making it a more attractive proposition if you sell – this could still increase the rebuild cost.

Insurers also need to know whether you'll have to move out of the property while work is being carried out. Most providers will insure an unoccupied home for up to 30 days as standard, but longer periods may need additional cover.

When should I tell my insurance provider that I'm carrying out work?

You should get in touch with your insurer before the work is carried out, so they can assess the risk to the property and adjust your premium if necessary. Allow at least a couple of weeks before the work is due to start.

Depending on what you're planning to have done, your insurer may change the terms of your policy or suggest completely new cover.

Make sure you have all the necessary information and documents to hand – your insurer will likely want to know things like:

  • The type of work you're having done
  • The estimated cost of the work
  • How long it will take
  • If the building will be empty while the work is being carried out
  • If the builders have adequate public liability insurance.

Do you need specialist home renovation insurance?

Some insurers offer specialist home renovation insurance, which covers you for the things that might go wrong during the renovation. However, it's not always an essential purchase.

Most contractors will have insurance for the work carried out on your home, protecting you in the event something goes wrong during the build. But you might not be covered in all circumstances, so make sure you have comprehensive building and contents insurance in place.

If your property will be empty for more than 30 or 60 days while it's being renovated, you may need specialist home renovation insurance. You may also need specialist cover if works are extensive, or if expensive equipment and materials will be present at the property during building works, which may increase the risk of theft.

What renovations will help add value to your property?

If you're looking to add to the value of your property, you need to be wise with your investment. You don't want to waste money or time carrying out unnecessary work.

Here are some things to consider before carrying out any renovations:

  • DO: modernise your kitchen. A kitchen is often the ‘hub of the home' – a critical part of any domestic property – and one of the top considerations for both buyers interested in the property and valuation surveyors. According to Household Quotes, a new kitchen costs around £8,000 excluding appliances and any building work that might be needed
  • DON'T: decorate with expensive wallpaper. Wallpaper can transform a room and make it feel like new, but if you're looking to sell a property, a high-end design can put certain buyers off. Ultimately, people have varying tastes and your choice may not be everyone's cup of tea
  • DO: convert your loft or cellar space. Loft and cellar conversions are a popular and effective way to increase a property's floor space and value, but so many people are unable to utilise the space to its full effect due to storage boxes and other items. However, if you can convert your loft space or cellar into an additional bedroom, it could be well worth the investment
  • DON'T: lose a bedroom. Knocking down walls to create larger open-plan spaces downstairs can prove to be a smart move, but when it comes to bedrooms this is a big no-no.
    Combining two small bedrooms to create one big one has its appeal when you intend to stay at the property for a long time, but houses are largely valued on their number of bedrooms, so you'd essentially be downgrading the property
  • DO: Improve the kerb appeal. When it comes to selling your home, first impressions count. These are just a few of the dos and don'ts of home improvement.

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