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5 DIY Mistakes That Can Affect Your Homeowners Insurance

By Jarrod Heil

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By now, everyone has likely seen those epic DIY renovations on TV shows. They seem so easy and straightforward. After all, we’re only fed a 30-minute snippet of what likely took a month or two of full-time effort (and more help than what’s shown on the big screen) to complete.

What we’re not shown is those reality TV star’s background in contracting or construction. While most of us doing DIY jobs hold full-time gigs outside of those two professions, we still feel like we can complete the most epic DIY renovations by ourselves — myself included.

While DIY projects can help save you a boatload of money, like this $5,000 bathroom remodel, the fact of the matter is that they rarely go as planned. Heck, what does go 100 percent according to plan these days? Not much.

Some DIY projects are easier than others, such as these easy holiday hacks and patio lighting ideas, many are extremely complex and may even be dangerous. But did you know that DIY mistakes can actually have a negative impact on your homeowners insurance?

Yup. Let’s take a look at some of the most common DIY mistakes homeowners make when completing upgrades or renovations. After seeing this list, promise us you’ll avoid them!

1. Not Increasing Your Homeowners Insurance

Kudos to you if you decide to put in those new granite countertops and tile floors you’ve always wanted. And why not save some money by doing it yourself? It’s your house, so whatever you want goes, right? Well, not really.

DIY projects serve a few purposes: upgrading your home to make it more appealing; increasing the value of your home; and saving money by doing the work yourself. We’re going to focus on number two. When you complete a DIY project that increases the value of your home, you also need to increase your home’s dwelling coverage to ensure your new project is properly protected by your homeowners insurance policy.

Dwelling coverage is designed to protect the structure of your home and everything that makes it, which includes those fancy new countertops and floors, your roof, ceilings and so much more.

If your home is worth $200,000 pre-DIY and you have that much in dwelling coverage, there’s a good chance those additional upgrades you just made will increase the value of your home. So let’s say your home is now worth $215,000. If you don’t increase your dwelling coverage to that same sum, your new project may not be protected by your home insurance.

If something catastrophic occurs and your home is destroyed, it would only be covered up to $200,000, leaving you to pay the remaining $15,000 out of your own pocket. Your cost differential could be even higher with this $5,000 bathroom remodel, which could add nearly $30,000 to the value of your home.

The more extravagant the project, the more you need to increase your coverage. Of course, you’ll also want to evaluate whether you want to go with replacement cost coverage or market value coverage.

2. Failing to Get the Proper Permits

Even though you’re working on your home in your time, that doesn’t mean you can do anything you want without asking permission. Professional contractors are legally required to get permits from local government offices to make sure all the work is up to code. You must do the same thing.

Permits make sure you’re following all the rules, regulations and laws governing your area. They also protect you against penalties or fines handed by local government agencies for improper work or failing to meet codes. But most of all, permits are required by your homeowners insurance company as well.

If you complete a project on your home that requires a permit, whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor, your home insurance company will not protect that project if you don’t secure the proper permits.

Your insurance company will likely consider any damage or destruction before or after the project as negligence on your behalf if you don’t secure the right permits.

If you don’t secure permits and you file a claim for anything related to that project or not, your mistakes could get extremely costly. Plus, the claim will likely result in a significant increase in your homeowners insurance premiums or, even worse, being dropped by your insurance company.

3. Causing More Damage Than Good

This mistake goes back to the first paragraph of this article. DIY projects aren’t as easy as reality TV makes them out to be. In fact, they’re pretty tough and time-consuming. Plus, if you’ve never done it before and are relying on internet videos to complete the task, there’s a good chance something will go wrong.

Scratch that. Something will always go wrong with your DIY projects. Whether it’s accidentally mismeasuring, hitting your head on something or not stabilizing the ladder well enough, something will go wrong.

The key thing is rolling with the punches and making sure you’re not causing more damage than good. After all, nobody wants to take a trip to the hospital or have to file a home insurance claim for a DIY project gone awry.

Keep in mind that if you bring in an unlicensed friend to help with the project and they get hurt on the job, it will likely be you who’s stuck paying for the medical bills.

4. Using the Wrong Materials

Using untreated wood on a project that could potentially come in close contact with water? In a few years, that lumber could turn into dry rot, leaving your head spinning with exponential repair bills or in need of filing a costly home insurance claim.

One of the biggest mistakes people make during DIY projects is choosing the wrong material. Redoing the bathroom? Know when to use water-resistant caulk or watertight sealed caulk. The same caulk you use for your kitchen shouldn’t be used for your bathroom.

There are so many materials out there you can use (and that number seems to keep rising daily), so you’ll want to do your research to ensure you’re using the right materials in the right places. Using the wrong materials could leave you with future headaches and unnecessary home insurance claims.

5. Mistaking Yourself as an Electrician or Plumber

It would be great to be able to successfully complete your DIY project from start to finish without the help of a professional. Unfortunately, some projects call for professionals — even those you see on reality TV shows.

Don’t rely on Googling how to rewire your kitchen appliances or put new pipes in your bathroom to complete the job. Those tips could result in extensive fire damage to your home or a floor full of water and mold.

Instead of mistaking yourself as an electrician or plumber, the two professionals you absolutely don’t want to take for granted, know when you should throw in the towel and call in a professional. After all, spending a few hundred bucks on hiring a pro is much better than spending a few thousand dollars to redo your own mistakes.

DIY Projects and Your Homeowners Insurance

While completing DIY projects often seems like the most affordable option, there are plenty of things that could go wrong along the way. Many people make severe or one-off mistakes that result in costly home insurance claims. If you follow this article’s suggestions, you won’t be one of them!

Get a Quote Compare multiple policies to get the coverage you need at the price you want.

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