Set down your tablet. The truth is you can tackle that Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project you love on Pinterest. What’s better — it could save you money on your insurance premiums. Home improvements, whether it’s remodeling to sell or regular repairs, are part of being a homeowner, and with the creative help of sites like beloved Pinterest, it has become an even more desirable option to take on a home improvement project rather than call a plumber or electrician.
“The key to success for any do-it-yourself endeavor is the ability to follow instructions,
maintain confidence (particularly when things go wrong), and give yourself the time necessary to get the job done right,” advises DIY extraordinaire, Larry Bilotti, senior editor with BobVila.com.
With proper preparation and guidance, homeowners can tackle some of the biggest DIY projects without hurting their pocketbooks. We’ll take a look at some of the more costly professional home improvement projects and provide tips on how homeowners can not only do it themselves, but how doing so could lower their home insurance premiums.
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC): Staying Current Saves Money
Frank Darras of DarrasLaw in Ontario, Canada, said updating and keeping the HVAC system in good working condition, especially in older homes, can reduce homeowner’s insurance premiums. He said a good rule of thumb is that a system should always be less than 10 years old. If a system is over 10 years old, insurance premiums are likely to rise.
Over time, the insulation on outdoor air conditioner lines can wear, age, and begin to rot — which can cost the homeowner valuable energy. A great DIY project for air conditioner repair is replacing the rotten insulation.
This blog breaks it down into two easy steps.
First, measure the air conditioner line diameter and order the insulation, then seal each end of the tubing. Secondly, cut the new insulation to length and install the new foam.
Looking Up: Roof Improvements
With the threat of damage from weather and natural disasters, the roof is one of the most important parts of the home that needs maintaining. Being proactive in roof maintenance is best, and Darras suggests homeowners invest in impact-resistant roofing, especially if they live in an area known for hail, strong winds, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Doing so can cut insurance premiums as much as 30-40%.
One way homeowners can lower their insurance bill is to choose a tough roof.
It’s best for homeowners to talk to their insurance agents to learn about specific discounts for materials other than standard asphalt for the roof. While metal roofing will usually provide the largest discount, it can be much more costly than standard asphalt shingles. Experts suggest considering heavier-grade Class 4 modified asphalt and shake shingles, which include a 30- to 50-year limited warranty. This is a more economical alternative than replacing a roof damaged by storms.
Routine roof inspection and maintenance is important because fixing a roof can be the most expensive home repair an owner may face with full replacements ranging from $2,000 to $12,000.
While many roofing repairs are best left to the experts, some repairs — such as fixing a roof that has been damaged by a fallen tree — can be a DIY project.
Pool and Fence Safety Improvements
In addition to the insurance benefit, this security measure protects the homeowner and neighbors because it reduces the chance of someone wandering into the yard, falling into your pool, and accidentally drowning — which is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Death by drowning is the second leading cause of accidental deaths for kids between 1 and 14. ÿBesides increasing your insurance coverage and building a fence around it, pool owners should keep it covered or drained when not in use.
Fences also help lower premiums by acting as barrier to vandalism or burglary, and some underwriters will classify fences as a form of security like an alarm system.
While building a fence can be a DIY project, there are important first steps to consider. Planning for a fence is more than picking the material. Homeowners need to:
- Be sure of the property line. Building on the neighbor’s yard — not good.
- Know where cables are. While this isn’t a DIY, it is free (usually). Ask your utility company to mark the location of buried power cables with spray paint. This helps ensure you won’t ruin your fence building experience by splitting a buried power cable with a shovel and lighting up like a Christmas tree. Additionally, take into account any buried water lines to swimming pools, low-voltage lines for decorative lighting, sprinkler systems, and tree roots you don’t want any injury stemming from building your fence.
- Be a good neighbor. It’s not just a slogan. Inform your neighbors about your DIY construction plans.
Focus on Security
There are numerous improvements homeowners can perform for the purpose of enhancing security, many of which will lower insurance premiums.
A few examples are:
- Installing home sprinkler systems and putting up smoke detectors.
- Using shatterproof windows instead of standard window panes.
- Putting in motion-sensor lighting.
- Making sure all electrical wiring is up-to-date. Insurance companies pay particular attention to electrical wiring being up to code because this makes homes less likely to experience an electrical fire.
- Leak detectors can warn homeowners of plumbing failures by using battery-operated or plug-in temperature sensors to detect furnace breakdowns which lead to frozen and bursting pipes. Installing a leak detector can easily be a DIY project. The detector will sound an alarm or automatically shut off the home’s main water line valve when water touches the sensor. This installation can drop insurance premiums by two to five percent.
- People with homes in areas prone to hurricanes can put up storm shutters — which Darras said can save the homeowner up to 30% on the hurricane portion of the insurance premium and up to 60% in coastal areas.
Before homeowners attempt any DIY improvement projects, they should consult with their insurance provider to get a list of discounts available to them.
“Besides added safety, there’s no point in wasting a ton of money if it won’t actually lower premiums,” said Darras. “Ask for specifics. It may be that your alarm system has to meet X, Y, and Z criteria in order to lower your premium. You want to make sure you are following these guidelines to the tee before investing in any home improvement project.”
If done properly, DIY home improvement projects stand to be of dual benefit — homeowners maintain the upkeep of their homes and shave money off insurance premiums.