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How could DIY affect your home insurance?

5 minutes

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Thinking about making home improvements but unsure if your buildings and home insurance will cover any DIY mistakes? Discover everything you need to know.  

  • Refer to your policy documents to see what home renovations you’re covered for or talk to your insurer directly
  • Additional insurance on top of your existing home insurance policy could increase your protection against DIY mishaps
  • Preparation often reduces the risks associated with attempting DIY or home improvement

See how your next project could affect your home insurance. We’ll run through what protection policies can offer, what research you should do, and the potential DIY disasters you should avoid.

How can DIY affect my insurance?

Before embarking on any DIY home improvements big or small, it’s worth checking the level of cover provided by your existing home insurance.

DIY disasters can happen to anyone. Some of the most common are: 

  • Ladders through windows
  • Cracked sinks
  • Broken mirrors
  • Damaged ceramic hobs

Your policy may cover you against this type of damage, but it won’t be included on all types of home insurance. Undertaking more ambitious tasks, like structural changes to your home, may even invalidate your policy if you don’t hire a fully qualified professional.

Whatever your DIY project, check with your insurer before you start work to see what will and won’t be covered.

Do I need renovation insurance?

That depends on the scale of the work you’re doing and the possible hazards that come along with it.

Even a simple task, like putting up a shelf, could result in an expensive repair bill if it falls down and breaks something valuable.

Home insurance from LV= lets you add optional extras to your policy. Full Accidental Damage Cover is just one of them. This ensures you’re covered for DIY mistakes that might happen.

Before you lift a hammer, contact your insurer if you don’t know what your current policy includes. They can tell you the specifics of your cover and give you tailored advice about any optional extras you may need.

Alternatively, have a look through your policy documents. These include a full list of what home improvements are covered.


Do I need planning permission?

Unless you intend to add an extension, it’s unlikely you’ll need planning permission for any DIY work. However, there are exceptions to the rule.

If you’re living in a listed property or within the boundaries of a conservation area, you’ll need to consult your local planning authority (LPA). They’ll provide you with comprehensive details about what changes you can and can’t make with or without planning permission.

You can also check the UK Government’s rules on planning permission.

However, if your renovation is relatively small, you probably won’t need planning permission. Many typical DIY home improvements don’t, including new:

  • Loft or garage conversions
  • Staircases
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens

Outdoor renovations are a little different. If you’re changing or maintaining garden fences, gates or walls, you’ll need to consult your local council.

Generally, planning permission is needed if they’re next to a road and over one metre high – two metres high if they’re not beside a road.

Common DIY disasters

Renovations don’t always go according to plan. What are the costs if the worst should happen? We’ve dived into our claims data and looked at a few common DIY disasters to find the most troublesome tasks across the nation.

Paint spillages

Painting may seem simple, but it’s actually the most common cause of making a claim on home insurance after a spot of DIY.

In 2018, LV= received almost 400 claims that were related to people spilling paint, varnish and cleaning fluids on valuables – costing a whopping £290,000. 

Most of the time, you can avoid this by prepping your space. Cover your floor and furniture with old dust sheets and move any valuables before getting your paintbrush out.

Also, spend time preparing your walls. Fill in any holes or marks, sand down uneven surfaces and clean thoroughly before applying a base coat.

Damaged pipes

Underfloor water pipes are a minefield for budding home improvement enthusiasts and can cause costly repair bills if they’re damaged.

 LV= received 37 claims totalling £79,000 in 2018 for pipes accidentally bursting after being pierced by a stray nail or screw. 

It’s easily done, especially during kitchen or bathroom remodelling jobs. Leaking pipes can damage ceilings below, as well as any new flooring and fixtures you’re installing.

If you’re drilling into a space where you think there might be pipes, don’t go in blind. Use a wire and pipe detector to avoid any accidents. These devices can will tell you if there are any cables or pipes below and are much cheaper than potential water damage from a burst pipe. Find out what to do if you discover a leak. 

Before you lift a hammer, contact your insurer if you don’t know what your current policy includes. They can tell you the specifics of your cover and give you tailored advice about any optional extras you may need.

Fixed glass smashes

Glass is a magnet for damage around the home, especially when carrying ladders from room to room and sprucing up outdoor spaces.

Mowing the lawn is one of the biggest culprits, with LV= receiving 93 claims totalling £46,000 coming in after accidental damage to fixed glass. 

Whether you’re tackling garden corners near your patio doorway or trimming edges next to your prized greenhouse, it’s a DIY disaster that’s easily done.

To prevent this, be mindful of where you are at all times. If you’re wielding garden tools near glass outside or inside your house, be careful with your movements – a breakage or scratch can happen in an instant.

Where possible, protect any glass you’re working near with window adhesive tape. It’ll help prevent scratches but might not protect against the risk of shattering.

Electrical wiring damage

Just like runaway water can cause havoc after accidentally hitting a pipe, so too can damaged electrical wires.

Drilling into a cable can be costly and cause problems immediately. This may leave you in the dark and with a costly bill if you don’t have the correct home insurance.

It’s easily done. We fix mirrors, picture frames and shelving to our walls all the time. Again, a wire and pipe detector is your best friend here.

Hold it against walling you plan to drill or hammer into and clearly mark where is unsafe to drill. That way you’ll avoid the no-go zones when fixing your latest prized artwork to the wall.

Failed flat pack furniture

There’s nothing like filling your living room with a few items you can assemble yourself. However, you can come a cropper when following the sometimes confusing instructions supplied.

Flat pack furniture put together incorrectly can result in costly damage to expensive items in your home, including:

  • TV cabinets
  • Tables
  • Wardrobes
  • Shelving

These are the places where you’ll keep expensive tech and other valuables, and can become easily damaged if you botch the construction.

It’s important to follow the included instructions. Building flat pack furniture isn’t a race, so follow them carefully and slowly. Take your time to ensure you’re assembling things correctly.

Also, if the screws and parts you’re provided with don’t match up with the instructions, flag this with the retailer. It’s better to do this than gamble with an expensive accident happening in the future.

How can I prepare for DIY?

Preparation is always important when you’re doing any home improvements. We’ve created a checklist to help you put everything in place before getting your hands dirty:

  • Make a list of the everything you’ll need – do some research into the tools and supplies you’ll need to do the job properly. Go into your local DIY store and talk to an assistant or watch YouTube tutorials from reputable sources to help you.
  • Look out for the best offers – DIY retailers usually hold special offers at certain times of year, particularly during Bank Holidays. Look out for any bargains to help make getting good quality materials more affordable.
  • Get a professional tradesperson in for bigger jobs – if you’re taking on a big task that you’re not comfortable doing, use a professional. It’ll cost you more in the short term, but long term it means less stress and probably a better quality of finish.
  • Before you start making your grand designs a reality, check your building and home insurance is up to date and will cover any renovations you make.

All content is approved by our in-house advisory board of experts.

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