DIY disaster

27th July 2007 at 01:00
We spend more than pound;670m a year fixing botched jobs. Are you covered if things go wrong? Alison Brace reports

If you're planning on carrying out some major DIY job this summer, check your house insurance now. Although we may think we are a nation of Handy Andys, adept with a drill and a screwdriver, the reality is the opposite. Research by the Halifax bank reveals that we spend more than pound;670 million a year fixing botched DIY jobs and, in most cases, we do not have the right insurance to cover the cost.

According to the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA), a staggering 36 per cent of homeowners in Britain have no buildings insurance at all, and 22 per cent do not have home contents insurance.

But even if you think you are well covered, it is vital to check your policy's small print before getting out the tool kit. Most building insurance covers breakages or damage to baths, sinks and glass doors. But when it comes to DIY, you must also have opted for "accidental damage" cover to stand any chance of claiming something back.

This is usually a bolt-on to the main policy, so it will probably cost you more but it is well worth it if things go wrong. And going by the Halifax's research, things do. An estimated 4.1 million UK households bungled DIY jobs last year, with the Midlands topping the list for DIY disasters.

Surprisingly, it's the garden that comes out as our favourite area for a makeover, followed by bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens, according to the Halifax. "Well-planned and executed home improvements can add significant value to a home," says Vicky Emmott, Halifax home insurance's senior manager of underwriting. "But getting it wrong can be a disaster."

Anyone planning major improvements to their home should employ qualified and reputable tradesmen rather than going it alone, she says.

"Trying to tackle certain areas that you are not qualified for, such as electrics or plumbing, could invalidate your home insurance and leave you liable for the cost of subse- quent damage."

If, however, you really are a Handy Andy away from the classroom and your idea of a holiday is installing a new bathroom suite or kitting out a kitchen, there is something else you should consider: your fabulous work will not only add considerable value to your home, it will also increase the amount of insurance cover you need

Beware of the botch-up: Get the right cover has for a four-step guide to getting cheaper home insurance with the right level of cover.

"People should treat any improvements and renovations to their home as an investment, and should protect them as such," says Peter Staddon of BIBA. "It is important that consumers talk to their broker to guarantee that any changes they have made are covered by their insurance."

So, you have been warned: check your insurance before you order the gold embossed retro mixer taps.

Regional average cost to fix DIY damage

Midlands: pound;4,552

Greater London: pound;2,755

South-eastEast Anglia: pound;1,065

North-east: pound;1,093

Wales and West: pound;759

North-west: pound;599

Scotland pound;142

Source: Halifax Home Insurance

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