Does Your Home Insurance Cover Your Lofty Aspirations?

As you know, I have recently been giving thought to creating a great blogging-space and getting the Husband to share some of his considerably larger home office in our loft. The previous owners of our house created a great office space which is now the Husband’s domain, since, when he’s not gallivanting across Europe, he’s working from home.

I suppose we could turn it into a bigger bedroom for Ieuan, whose bedroom is about half the size of his sister’s but that’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when Ieuan notices Caitlin’s room is positively palatial in term of size compared to his.  I have a suspicion this is not going to take too long!

Our home office houses numerous computers, laptops and other office equipment like a printer, scanner and shredder.  It is also occasionally colonized by Barbie, a collection of soft toys and two children who have to do some colouring on an office desk.

Ieuan is a great fan of the swivel chair and loves to pretend to be the managing director of some crime-fighting organisation where the payment is in sweets and the hours are, frankly, much better than any of my previous jobs in the Legal Sector.

The proximity of two children to the Husband’s work is apt to make him understandably nervous, not least because of the not inconsiderable cost of replacing anything ruined by biscuit crumbs, squash or the general miasma of ‘ick’ children are apt to carry about with them.

This is just one of the reasons that we have had to ensure we are fully covered by our home insurance.  I bet if many of us took a moment to add up the value of tech items we have in our homes (possibly mostly owned by our children these days!), it might give us a bit of a shock.

It is easy when considering renewing your home insurance policy to ‘guestimate’ the value and pick a level of cover that is, shall we say, ever so slightly random.  Let’s be honest – many of us never believe that we may one day actually have to use the policy.

A sensible thing to do is to mark your items with your postcode using an indelible pen.  You could also keep a separate list of serial numbers and other codes and photograph each item so, in the event of anything getting stolen, it will be easy to show the police.  The issue of whether the police will be interested these days, is, of course, another matter.

You might even want to go the whole hog and set up a file which contains these details and attach the machine’s instructions or guarantee.  You can bet that you won’t be able to find these when you need them – for example, if your laptop goes on the blink and you have to take it in to be repaired.

Once you have assembled all this info in one place then you’ll have a much better idea of how much contents cover you will need.

If, on the other hand, you are currently considering a loft conversion, you need to think about the effect on your house insurance as early as possible. It’s all too easy to forget about home insurance for loft conversions when you’re in the throws of finding buildings and wrestling with planning permission.

But, you see, if your loft conversion (which is, after all, major building work) isn’t carried out properly and the correct permissions and regulations aren’t followed, and if you don’t tell your insurer so that your policy can be amended, then your cover may become void.  If you have an extension or loft, the cost of rebuilding your house will go up – which will affect your policy.

Your contents cover could also become invalid as an insurer is unlikely to honour a claim for an area they weren’t aware existed!

Here’s what you need to do:-

* Let your home insurer know your plans before starting any building work

* Be very clear about the exact nature of the work to be carried out.  You might have to increase your cover while the work is going on.  It is best to put this in writing – handy should there be any disputes later on.

Extensions and loft bedrooms will see a rise in the cost of rebuilding your home if it is destroyed so your building insurance will need to be increased. And if you’ve added lots of new furniture or gadgets, so might your contents cover.

You might also need to add accidental damage to your policy in case of damage by builders and if you are going to have to move out whilst work is being done, this might also affect any potential claim.

You should also think about adding legal cover to your home insurance just in case of any disputes with the builders or in the unhappy event that their firm goes bust before your work is completed.

On the other hand, though, a loft conversion can add 20% to the value of your home, according to research by the Nationwide Building Society in 2014 so the benefits far outweigh any inconvenient increases in home insurance premiums.

If it had not been for our loft conversion and a ready-made work-space for the Husband, it is unlikely we would have purchased our current house.  Something worth thinking about if you do plan to move in a few years.

In the meantime, I am still on a mission to carve out a small corner of our home office for my own.

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