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We all want to improve our property, be it converting a barn into a guest house, a back yard into a tennis court or just a new self-build garden house.

Whichever route one chooses, there are always some things that could go very wrong.

This is why we must understand the liability we are undertaking when venturing to self-build, and also check whether our property or other insurance covers it. If not you could be uninsured for claims for health or even damage to your property through your incompetence.

With a build on newly purchased land, Self Build site insurance is important, and needs to be taken out at the time of purchase, as disaster could strike immediately. You could wait until the build process is beginning, as a bare site is relatively safe.

Risks with empty sites

Insurance can be got for:

Building Self build process

A self build project could be disturbed for various reasons; injury, theft, contractor disputes or accident.

Often, the entire family is involved in a self build project and self build site insurance provides a personal accident cover for the owner of the land and his immediate family.

Another important aspect of Self Build insurance is that it covers any legal liability for claims laid by any other person who may suffer injury, loss or even death arising out of your building practices.

For example, you're building that garden house you always dreamed of, and didn't fix the roof just yet. A friend comes over and begins inspecting your work. Before he knows it, the roof collapses and he has to be rushed to a hospital. You will be worried, but at least the insurance cover will take care of the financial damages.

One may start the initial self build project, but when you look deeper into the plan you might conclude that a professional may just do the job better! So, hire a professional builder. We're all human, susceptible to injury and must be guarded against it, if not physically, then financially.

Professional builders will have full indemnity insurance, and you should ask for a copy of this - make sure it is up to date and a proper policy covering all risks.

If you are running the building job yourself, you become the Main Contractor so you need your own insurance policy. If you try and save on this you could be liable for huge expenses as building work is inherently dangerous.

Look for Self Build Employers Liability Insurance which covers anyone doing jobs for you. If a builder, assistant or visitor gets injured while on your site, you are adequately covered for it.

Dangers of DIY

Come Easter or Christmas and we all become DIY experts! There's the occasional clean up, fix or even renovation and we all roll up our sleeves and take pride in doing our own jobs. It is also the time of an increase in admissions to Accident and Emergency units with sprains, breaks, cuts, chemical burns, etc… very dangerous for older fans of DIY as falls are a major reason for death and disablity. Even changing a light bulb is dangerous - my own mother fell off a chair, light bulb in hand, and ended up in hospital for 2 weeks.

As a property owner, one must check home insurance policies for coverage in case of accidental damage to goods and even family members. Always check; are you covered for breakage, paint that may spill, damage due to misuse of tools? Never forget to check the coverage limit too. Some policies may offer unlimited protection in case of damage, while others will put a cap on the claim amount. Your exces may be too high so check that.

We all know that accidents do happen, but there's no harm in taking every precaution before beginning a DIY job at home. If a major job, turn off your water and electrics from the main, so you take care to avoid accidents due to water or fire. Cover all furniture that could be damaged due to paint spills. Check equipment and read user manuals thoroughly before beginning a DIY job.