In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, we’re dedicating this post to the number one handyman in your life. Now, we know some people are just natural DIYers, but when it comes to homeowners’ insurance, that may or may not be the best route. Today, we’ll share some advice to help you decide when to break out that toolbelt and when to call in the professionals.
A lot of people think that if you’re doing the work yourself, you don’t need a permit. Unfortunately, this is completely false. While contractors typically have more familiarity with permitting offices than the average layperson, realistically anyone can request the necessary paperwork from the local government.
Whatever your opinion on permits, they’re a necessary part of the home improvement process—especially for larger projects such as additions, outbuildings, and complete interior renovations. They’re in place to ensure the safety of you (as the person working on the property) as well as your family and any other future residents. Moreover, they have a role to play when it comes to liability.
Let’s look at an electrical example. If you recently made changes to your electricity box without a permit and without the help of a professional, then when that new box causes power problems throughout the neighborhood, it all comes back to you. Not only could the city/town require you to redo the work through the proper channels, but also, they could bill you for the cost to repair any power lines or other electrical elements damaged as a result of your DIY. If a professional did the work, then the liability would shift to him/her.
Additionally, your homeowners’ insurance will often deny claims resulting from an unpermitted handyman experiment. In this case, the company views your action as negligence, so they won’t pay for any damages related to your most recent project—potentially leaving you with thousands of dollars in bills.
Speaking of liability, any time you work in an unsafe environment as the acting handyman, you risk injury. Especially when you’re not familiar with the space or the project, you’re taking a big chance. If you get injured, you’re probably not going to sue yourself and collect damages from your homeowners’ insurance. Not that they would necessarily pay in that situation. Remember, if you’re not a professional, they could consider you negligent for trying to make these changes yourself. Plus, professionals have specific insurance to protect them and you, if accidents happen on the job.
It might not even be you who gets injured during your DIY. If guests get hurt while walking through your work zone, then that liability is on you. So, they could sue you and/or your homeowners’ insurance to recover damages like medical bills, lost wages, etc.
Everyone Makes Mistakes
To err is human, so even the most experienced handyman will occasionally miss something. It could be a mismeasurement, a forgotten screw, or something much larger. Unfortunately, those mistakes could cost you a lot of money if they’re able to trace the source of a claim back to you. Your homeowners’ insurance isn’t likely to cover the cost of a collapsed roof because you failed to properly support it when you were tearing out walls.
So, if you’re planning on doing any projects, be extra careful with your measurements. What may start as a desire to improve your home can quickly turn into a costly claim that homeowners’ insurance won’t touch if they find out you did everything on your own.
For the true handyman, we’re not advising you to put your tools away! You can still tackle a lot of projects around the home, just make sure you ask for a little help on the bigger ones. Especially when it comes to electrical work, plumbing, and/or additions, ensure you have the correct permitting and professional help, so your homeowners’ insurance can do its job—after you’ve finished yours. If you have more questions about DIY, feel free to call Freedom Insurance Agency, Inc. any time!