Weekend Warrior woes – the dangers of DIY



Weekend Warrior woes – the dangers of DIY

Renovation programs have inspired a new generation of enthusiastic DIY renovators who may be unaware of the risks.

Leading insurer Suncorp said many insurance policies will not cover damage to property if it’s related to poor workmanship.

“Additionally, home owners are not covered if they have carried out renovations to their home which do not comply with building laws or regulations,” Suncorp’s Head of Property Claims and Repair Donna Stewart said.

“Poor or unregulated DIY work can also have disastrous effects. Suncorp has seen many cases where amateur renovators or Weekend Warriors have built their own verandas, pergolas or carports, only to see their insurance declined because of a number of issues.

“Some of the claims declined relates to decking and awnings installed by customers who used incorrect materials that did not withstand weather conditions.

“In one case, the home owner proudly added a veranda, which promptly collapsed when a storm hit a few weeks later. The veranda proved to be substandard and the insurance claim declined.”

Some of the common problems Suncorp has seen include:
  • not using the correct sized framing members
  • not spacing rafters and battens correctly
  • building with under sized timbers
  • building too close to boundary
  • building with no permit
  • using standard pine (not treated pine) and then installing shade cloth on top, which will rot
  • installing spouting with no downpipe or connection to drains

“Turning garages into habitable rooms is popular among weekend renovators and equally fraught with potential traps,” Ms Stewart said.

“Some may decide to convert their basements into a liveable space and may not consider appropriate heights, or the drainage and flooring type. 

For example, they may lay down laminated timber flooring on to a concrete slab without proper waterproofing. Because of subsequent seepage into the sub-floor rooms, insurance claims are likely to be declined.”

“One of the biggest mistakes Weekend Warriors make is when joining extensions to the main house. If done incorrectly, this can result in water seepage into the home.

“A number of Weekend Warriors feel the need to renovate their kitchens with equally disastrous results.”

Common mistakes include installing splashbacks, which are not sealed; and water filters being installed incorrectly.

Ms Stewart cited one case where a house was destroyed by fire following the occupant installing a wood heater incorrectly. This caused a fire in the wall cavity. It also turned out that the installation required a permit but this was not obtained. The claim was subsequently declined.

“Even a touch of home painting can prove disastrous with paint spilling on expensive carpet. Some insurance policies do cover accidental damage but people need to check their policies,” she said.

“However, there are also many DIY efforts which are carried out properly and are not liable to have any negative effect on claims. DIY supporters just need to make sure their work is of an appropriate professional level and in line with regulations, or simply call an expert.”

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