What property investors can learn from DIY homeowners

Worthwhile advice from a UK insurer

What do bank holidays mean to you? A day by the seaside? Quality time with family? A session on the river bank, hunting that elusive record roach? A romantic weekend away? According to new research, almost 4 in 10 homeowners plan their bank holiday weekends around DIY home maintenance. The research also contains a warning that is as apt for property investors as it is for homeowners.

Property improvement mishaps are common

The research, conducted by Sainsbury’s Bank Home Insurance, found that in the last three years, 1 in 7 homeowners in the UK has had a DIY mishap. The most common are dropped tools damaging floors, spilt paint ruining carpets or flooring, damaged walls, and electrical damage and flooding caused by a mis-targeted nail.

“What’s the problem?” I hear you say. “Surely, the homeowner’s insurance policy will pay out.”

“Not necessarily,” is the response from Sainsbury’s Bank.

Before you do DIY, speak to your insurer

Homeowners who make improvements could be uninsured. Karen Hogg, Head of Insurances at Sainsbury’s Bank, said:

“We’re a nation of DIY lovers and many of us will be planning some home or garden work over the coming weeks. Our research shows that just under a quarter of people undertaking work had not notified their insurer, which may lead to them being uninsured.”

Imagine making a DIY mistake on a buy-to-let property. You decide to put up shelves, for example, to add a little more storage for potential tenants. You drill into a water pipe. But the water is off, so you don’t realise.

New tenants move in, and the water is turned on. Over the next few weeks, the tenants notice a musty smell. Walls become damp. Then the carpet. Eventually, they call you to inspect the property. The slow-drip flooding has caused extensive damage. The cost to repair and make good your simple DIY error is a couple of thousand pounds. The insurance company refuses to pay out. The tenants move out. You don’t have the cash to make the repair. You’re left paying the mortgage on a property that won’t let.

What should you do before you do DIY maintenance?

If you are contemplating large DIY maintenance or improvement work on an investment property, the advice that Sainsbury’s Bank Home Insurance gives homeowners holds good for you:

  • Pre-warn your insurer that you are doing DIY work on the property
  • Tell your insurer when the work is complete

A better way than DIY

Instead of doing the work yourself, consider using tradesmen. They know what they are doing. They have all the right tools for the job. Sure, you’ll have to pay for their service, but you benefit from:

  • A free bank holiday weekend to do with as you please
  • A quality job completed faster

There are a couple of caveats when hiring tradesmen:

  • Ensure that they are fully insured
  • Let your insurer know of the work being done
  • Let your insurer know when the work has been completed

Take it from me, there are better things to do than DIY on investment property during bank holidays – or any other time. For me, time off means time with my family. I always get maintenance, repairs, and improvement done by professionals. It’s money well spent. And I always let my insurers know what work is being done. Good advice from an insurer. Who’d have thought?

Do you want to know where you should be investing today? Contact one of our team on +44 207 923 6100 and sign up for the Gladfish Newsletter to stay abreast of all the property investment news that matters. We give it to you straight. No BS. No hype.

Live with passion

Brett Alegre-Wood

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