2020 events prompt home maintenance boost ahead of winter weather

 Portrait of a smiling female carpenter sending a voice message with smartphone in her workshop.

  • Two fifths of UK residents are taking extra precautions to get homes ready for winter
  • A quarter of UK householders have experienced home damage due to extreme weather
  • Five out of six residents carried out home improvements during 2020 lockdown
  • But decorating and decluttering are more popular than home maintenance tasks

Millions of UK residents are getting their homes winter-ready, with lockdown and 2020 storms prompting residents to take action.

A survey from Aviva finds that almost two fifths (38%) of UK adults have carried out extra home maintenance work during 2020, compared to previous years.

Furthermore, more than half (56%) of UK residents are taking additional precautions this winter, with clearing out gutters, securing roof tiles and lagging pipes added to some ‘to-do’ lists for the first time.

This is encouraging news, given that almost a quarter of UK residents (23%) – equivalent to 6.4 million households* – have experienced damage to their homes due to extreme weather.

The most common weather-related property issues are revealed as:

The study also found a third of UK residents (31%) are concerned about potential damage to their homes as winter approaches.

However, a separate Aviva survey carried out in May 2020 suggests home maintenance may be avoided in favour of cosmetic changes at home. While 85% of UK residents overall had undertaken home improvements during lockdown, general maintenance tasks were less popular than the likes of gardening, decluttering and decorating.

Andrew Morrish, UK Claims Director, Global General Insurance, Aviva says: “2020 has meant many people have had extra time at home, giving them the opportunity to tackle outstanding jobs around their properties. The storms earlier this year may have focused minds too, as people could see the damage caused by extreme weather.

For anyone who hasn’t already examined their home to make sure it’s winter-ready, now is the perfect time

“However, we also know that creating a beautifully decorated room can be more enticing than checking roof tiles or fixing fences, so it’s not a surprise that some residents have focused on more cosmetic changes.

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“For anyone who hasn’t already examined their home to make sure it’s winter-ready, now is the perfect time. Bad weather can happen in any season, but our storm claims tend to increase during winter months – so we’ve put together a checklist to help people get ahead of the worst of the weather.

“We are on hand for all of our customers who need to claim as a result of weather damage, but prevention is always better than the cure. We’d urge people to spend a few moments getting their homes ready now, to avoid potential problems in the future.”

Aviva’s winter-ready home check list:

  • Examine your roof for any missing / loose tiles or slates. Aviva research suggests roof damage is the most common home issue caused by extreme weather, so it’s important to check yours is in good repair.
  • Secure your fences and gates. These are also very susceptible to weather events, particularly strong winds, so ensure posts are sturdy and there are no loose or missing panels.
  • Ensure gutters and downpipes are attached securely and clear out your gutters and drains. Leaves and rubbish can quickly build up and weigh gutters down – and the added weight of snow can be (literally) the breaking point for some.
  • Get your chimneys swept. There’s a greater risk of fire if your chimneys are full of debris, so call out the sweep before you light.
  • Warm up your stove: It’s estimated that around 1.5 million UK households now have wood-burning stoves. If you haven’t used yours for a while, before firing it up to the max, set a couple of low-level fires first. This will help to minimise the risk of cracking bricks.
  • Get your boiler serviced by a professional. It’s also a great time to think about boiler cover, in case of breakdowns.
  • Lag your pipes. And take extra care by putting the insulation on top of pipes, rather than underneath. Lagging at the bottom of pipes will prevent rising heat reaching them. Remember insulating jackets for your water tanks and cisterns too.
  • Insulate your loft. This can make a world of difference in stopping heat heading out through your roof.
  • Replace damaged seals on doors and windows. An old-fashioned draft excluder can also be a great addition to keep heat in the home or in a particular room.
  • Look after your taps. It’s a good time to insulate any outdoor taps and repair any that drip.
  • Read your home insurance documents: Home insurance is designed to cover unexpected and unpredictable events rather than general wear and tear, so familiarise yourself with your policy so you know what’s covered and what isn’t.  

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