As the seasons change, homeowners begin to think about tackling that latest house project – from redoing a kitchen to installing a pool to adding on an addition.
Whether your plans are small or large, make sure you’re prepared and covered before a shovel goes into the ground or a paint brush touches the wall. Some people take the do-it-yourself route, tackling parts of renovations themselves and hiring subcontractors for plumbing and electrical work while others hire a general contractor to manage the renovation process from start to finish.
No matter which route you go, here are four things to do before you get started on that renovation:
1. Make Sure You’re Covered: The last thing on your renovation “To Do” list may be checking your insurance policy. However, before you get started, it’s important to verify you’re covered for any situation. As the homeowner, you need to make sure you have adequate liability coverage as part of your homeowner’s policy in case someone is hurt on your property. Similarly, make sure that your general contractor and subcontractors (i.e. – electricians and plumbers) have adequate coverage. And don’t take a contractor’s word for it – ask for not only their insurance certificate and license number, but verify the contractor’s licensing status and ask to see your contractor’s policy. A general contractor’s policy should have coverage in three major areas: general liability, worker’s comp and builder’s risk.
2. Do Your Permitting Research: Does your remodel project require a building permit? In general, permits are required for projects that aren’t just cosmetic. Everything from installing a fence to moving a sink may require a permit so, when in doubt, do your research; or if you’ve hired a general contractor, make sure you know the permit requirements, timing, costs and inspection details. Most towns also have ordinances, such as building heights, that need to be understood and can usually be found on the local town’s website. Keep in mind that if work is performed without a permit and something happens, your homeowner’s policy will usually not cover it.
3. Call Before You Dig: Similar to obtaining the correct permits, if your project will require any digging, make sure you call 811 prior to digging. Call several days before the work is planned to allow adequate time for utility companies to be notified of your intent to dig. A representative will come out and mark the location of underground utility lines.
4. Invest For Long-term Savings: As you plan your renovation, look for savings. If you’re undertaking a kitchen remodel or installing a new roof, think about putting in energy efficient appliances or installing solar panels. Also, if you update certain systems like your plumbing, heating or electrical, or any other features that improve the safety and efficiency of your home, keep in mind that the investment can offer you long-term savings on things like your energy costs and potentially your homeowner’s insurance policy.
Home renovations can be a huge undertaking, but the end result is worth it. Make sure you go into your project with a solid foundation. At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, we’re here to help you ensure you’re protected and covered before you tackle your house project.