£3bn blown on over budget renovations as costs are underestimated

New research by Direct Line Home Insurance has revealed that approximately half a million homeowners go over budget when redecorating or renovating their home each year.

Almost a quarter of new property owners have faced spiralling costs in an effort to create their dream home in the past five years alone.

Households underestimate the cost of renovations and redecoration by approximately £3.4bn each year, spending on average £7,427 more than they expected – 278 per cent over budget.

The findings also showed the young people are the most likely to go over budget with nearly a third of 18-34 year olds spending more than they intended to, compared to just 17 per cent of those aged over 55. Direct Line Home Insurance speculates this overspending could be down to “lack of experience” or “lofty aspirations”.

The most popular room in a property to renovate within 12 months of buying a new home is the kitchen, with 32 per cent of buyers putting this as their top priority. Other popular rooms are the bathroom and living room.

When it comes to tackling the work themselves, the jobs homeowners are most comfortable with are painting, stripping wallpaper and re-tiling. One in 20 of those who have bought a house in the last five years would also consider, or have completed, building an extension or undertaking a loft conversion without professional help.

Commenting on the findings, head of home insurance at Direct Line Dan Simson said:

“Many home renovation shows have given people a false impression of the real cost of remodelling a property, so before you bite off more than you can chew it’s important to research and price the work accurately, building contingency costs into the budget, to ensure work comes in on time and meets your expectations.”

Simson also warned of the risks involved in taking on major renovation work without help.

He said:

“Many homebuyers understandably want to do renovations themselves to save money, but they should be aware that jobs aren’t always as simple as they may seem and some require specific certification or Building Regulations approval”

Direct Line Home Insurance offers the following hints and tips when hiring a builder:

  • Before work starts householders should inform their insurer the work is taking place, so they can review the policy and make sure the work doesn’t invalidate their cover. They will also need to be informed if the builder will have keys, if the property will be left unoccupied, if there will be scaffolding up and if the security will be compromised at any point (e.g. replacing doors and windows)
  • Homeowners should check they have accidental damage cover on their insurance
  • Ensure the builder is qualified and registered with a recognised governing body
  • Ensure there is a Standard Buildings Contract in place with the builder
  • Make sure the builder has public liability insurance, employers liability insurance and contractors all-risk cover
  • Ensure the correct permissions have been granted, to make sure renovations will meet all regulations
  • Inform neighbours of any work taking place, to let them know to expect some noise and in case any party walls will be affected