Advice and Opinion

Home maintenance truths: safeties involved for caring for your investment

A wide open and spacious living area linking to the patio, opened-up walls, modern floors, and rustic slate tiles – that’s a dream home maintenance project coming together.

For many residents in the central plateau which includes Free State and Gauteng, the winter season brings with it an ideal opportunity for building or home remodelling due to dry conditions and the lack of potentially disruptive wet weather conditions, normally experienced in the Western Cape. Conducting home maintenance during this time of the year is preferred and encouraged.

Remodelling can be a passion and a chore. However, the end result is worth it if you do it right. Your insurance policy is usually not part of the long to-do list when it comes to planning a home maintenance project, and rarely finds its way into the file folder along with paint swatches, contractor quotations, or hardware store shopping lists. IntegriSure, a Financial Services Provider (FSP), which offers motor, home and business insurance, advises that it pays to start your home improvement venture on a solid foundation.

It is vital that homeowners ensure that their homes are regularly maintained, which includes the upkeep of roofs, gutters and walls. According to Lizette Erasmus, Head of Insurance Expertise at IntegriSure: “Most homeowner insurance policies will only cover damage caused by sudden and unforeseen events, and regard home maintenance as the responsibility of the homeowner, thus any claims determined as a result of poor maintenance or neglect will most likely lead to complications.”

Furthermore, when it comes to workmanship, it is important to take the time to conduct research and investigate different contractors in order to ensure that the services of reputable building contractors are utilised. This is a critical factor in the safe and successful execution of work that’ll leave you happy in the end.

“The responsibility lies with the homeowner to ensure that the contractor he or she employs, is a reputable professional, and that the necessary liability insurance is in place before any work commences,” says Erasmus. Most reputable constructors will have their own liability cover in place, and this is an important factor to enquire about before hiring a potential contractor.”

Only hire a reliable contractor and ask to see the insurance policy, and make sure that it is in force. It also helps to ask for references where work had been done and successfully completed. If homeowners are unsure of the competence of their chosen contractor, they can get in touch with their FSP and enquire if they can recommend a skilled one from their approved panel.

Choosing building contractors should not be undertaken lightly. It’s important to realise that many home insurance policies will have a general exclusion for incomplete, defective, or non-compliant work performed by a contractor. This would result in clients being responsible or having to claim costs from the contractor on their own account.

The process is the same for new homeowners. It is advisable that consumers do thorough quality inspections of the property, paying careful attention to roofs and windows securing the structure, before closing the deal. Updating your home insurance to cover your property and confirming a builder’s guarantee is of the utmost importance.

Erasmus further notes that individuals must be sure to inform their financial services provider of any planned changes to the building before work begins, and to follow up to review their policies once work is completed. “This will ensure that cover is adjusted to suit the specific needs of the client, and that the newly extended area is covered in the existing policy,” she explains.

“Property is an important and valuable asset. We therefore urge homeowners to make use of the services of reputable builders, as this can make all the difference should the need to claim from your insurance policy arise,” concludes Erasmus.