What to consider before diving into your home DIY

If you’re itching for the chance to make those long-awaited alterations to your space or upgrade your home without a hefty price tag, taking the DIY approach may be your best way to consider. But while DIY projects may save you money, being inexperienced or unqualified to perform certain renovations could lead to unnecessary accidents and liability issues in the long run.

Before you dive into revamping your home, you need to make sure you understand the insurance implications.

Commenting on this is Siyakha Masiye, spokesperson at MiWay Insurance says that the rule of thumb when deciding whether to take the DIY approach to home renovations is that anything aesthetic or cosmetic is generally less risky than anything structural. “A great starting point is to review your home insurance policy before executing any of your DIY plans.

In most cases, insurers do not provide cover for damage or destruction caused by poor or defective workmanship. Since certain renovations will affect your home’s resale value, those installations and alterations may result in a higher insurance premium. Therefore, before going ahead, it is important to understand what the implications will be on long-term affordability.”

DIY-friendly home improvements

Aesthetic upgrades that won’t have any material effect on your insurance cover include painting walls, landscaping a garden, installing shelving or storage units and conducting minor plumbing repairs (such as fixing a leaking tap). These kinds of tasks don’t require a high level of technical expertise and are generally low risk.

“If, however, you make a critical mistake such as cracking the plaster when hanging a painting or using cheap materials that don’t last, these incidents will not be covered by your insurer. For this reason, it’s important to follow any safety guidelines provided and to have enough self-insurance funds available should you need to fix a mistake,” says Masiye.

When to call in an expert

There are some tasks that should be left to the experts for safety reasons. These include any electrical installations such as installing new light fixtures or additional plug-points, repairing faulty wiring, and adding or fixing any distribution boards. Any electrical work not conducted by an expert will increase the risk of fire hazards in your home, which poses a safety risk and could cause unnecessary complications in the event of an insurance claim.

The same applies to major plumbing renovations such as installing new pipes and fixtures, adding a new waterpoint or upgrading or adding a water heating system. Faulty plumbing can pose a serious risk as it can lead to water damage, sanitation issues, the growth of mildew and bacteria (which is a significant health hazard) and chemical exposure.

In both the case of electrical and plumbing installations, there is also the issue of compliance to consider. Insurers will not provide cover for systems that are not compliant with the requirements set out by the South African Bureau of Standards, which outlines the technical requirements for the safety, health and sustainability of buildings. This is also important if you are considering eventually selling your home – without the relevant certificates of compliance, you will not be able to process the sale or transfer.

What it means for your insurance premium

Before going ahead with renovations, it is vital to check whether the alteration will affect the value of your home. For example, installing a swimming pool comes with a list of safety and compliance requirements, andcan also significantly increase your home’s resale value. The same goes for the installation of features like a fireplace, upgrading your kitchen or bathrooms.

Creating a smart home, where appliances and fixtures are wirelessly connected and run on an automated system is one of the most popular renovation trends. However, doing these kinds of major upgrades will have insurance implications and will typically mean that your premium will increase to account for the rise in value. It is important to check these kinds of details to avoid being underinsured.

The good news is that there are home upgrades that could reduce your insurance premium or save you money in the long run. Installing security features such as electric fencing, an alarm system or CCTV monitoring could reduce the cost of your premium. For this reason, it is essential for homeowners to keep their insurers in the loop when it comes to renovation plans.

“Brokers can provide valuable guidance and advice on what the insurance implications will be and whether it’s safe to go the DIY route on certain elements or not. The most prudent thing to do is to factor these insurance cost implications into your renovation plan – in doing so, you will ensure that making the upgrades to your home will improve aspects of life and save you money in the long run,” concludes Masiye.

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