A house that is under construction or renovation is more vulnerable to damage or destruction than at any other time in a home's history. Improperly stored work rags may combust, newly installed plumbing can leak, intruders might vandalize a vacant home... just to name a few possibilities.
To help ensure a safe and problem-free renovation or construction project, we offer the following recommendations for your home renovation project:
• Confirm the contractor is adequately insured. A minimum limit of $2,000,000 of Commercial Liability insurance is suggested. When selecting a contractor, ask for a copy of the certificate of insurance to confirm adequate insurance limits.
• Read the fine print. Before signing a contract, be sure that the terms of the contract between you and the contractor do not waive your right to recover payment for a loss caused by a negligent third party, referred to as "waiving your right to subrogation". In the event the contractor is negligent when building the home, you want to be able to recoup any monies lost from the third party if there is a lawsuit.
• Keep a sufficient number of portable fire extinguishers distributed throughout the worksite. There should be at least one fire extinguisher for every 2,000 square feet of space on each level of the home. We recommend multi-purpose models (type ABC) of at least 10 lbs in weight. It is recommended that you keep extinguishers in your home visible and easily located, even after construction or renovation is completed. Make sure everyone, including older children, have been trained in their use.
• Clean up the worksite every day. Many commonly used construction materials are highly combustible. Make sure scrap lumber, sawdust, cardboard containers and other debris are removed daily. Also, ask painters to remove all rags and solvents at the end of each day as they are highly flammable and can start a fire if left unattended.
• If you are renovating your home, do not allow your fire or burglar alarm to be disconnected. During renovations, you can expect a great deal of dust to be produced, possibly triggering your alarm components. Rather than turn off your smoke detectors, have them covered with plastic bags or manufactured tops that can be removed at night when fires often occur.
• Take steps to keep unwanted visitors away from the construction site. Vacant construction sites can attract unwanted attention and increase the chance of theft, vandalism, or an injury. Motion-activated lighting, perimeter fencing, gates or chains across driveways, and security guards are examples of ways you can protect your home while it is vacant.
• Maintain proper coverage. To reduce the possibility of being underinsured during construction, notify your broker of the expected completed value. This will provide for any needed adjustments in the amount of coverage for your house or other permanent structures to reflect the reconstruction cost information you provide.