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How Do I Check my Insurance Needs Before starting Building Work on My Home?

This is a common question, and it applies to all projects, after a builder has been selected, while the building contract is being finalized. This is a simple DIY guide to assessing your insurance needs for the duration of construction, but we also suggest talking to your insurance broker, if you have one, or some other specialist adviser if you’re unsure about your needs.

You will need the following documents:

  • Your home insurance policy
  • A sample copy of the standard RIAI Yellow form building contract from your architect
  • A breakdown or summary of the contractor’s insurance.

Notify the Insurance Company

You must talk to your home insurance company before work starts to let them know the work is happening.You also need to get as much information as possible about what effect the building work will have on your policy.

Compare Documents and Assess Needs

Sit down and study your policy document in detail, also look through the standard building contract section on insurance to look for gaps:

  1. Ask your home insurance company if the building work will void any aspect of your existing policy, and what they recommend for home insurance during construction.
  2. Ask the contractor for a list of what’s covered in their policy (headings, types of cover, and main limits of cover.)
  3. There is a list of types of insurance requirements in the standard building contract. It is created for projects of unlimited size, so you can go through it and decide what applies to you (assuming yours is a relatively small project).
  4. Check for gaps between the cover you feel you need and what’s in place between the two policies.
  5. You can also limit risk by taking various practical steps like leaving the alarm system in place during construction, storing valuables securely, or removing them from the house. You should discuss this with the contractor and take whatever reasonable and practical steps are appropriate to reduce risks.
  6. If you find gaps in cover, decide whether your insurance should cover them, or the contractor should. This may be established by the terms of the building contract.
  7. You should generally insure areas and matters that are in your control, while they are in your control, and the same applies to the builder.

Have a Plan for Reacting to Unforeseen Problems and an Out-of-Hours Contact with The Builder

If something negative happens during the construction period like a break-in, or a house fire, it will usually be something unexpected that your couldn’t plan for or foresee. If possible, you and the builder should react as soon as possible to reduce negative consequences of the event, so make sure there are good lines of communication for the duration of construction. This plan may be affected by health and safety concerns and the conditions of the building contract regarding site possession and access.

These situations are rare, and we have never experienced them on any home renovation project which suggests that careful project planning works.


Insurance is a specialist field beyond the scope of architects’ core expertise, and we intend this as commons sense advice, not a definitive guide. Please consider project risks carefully and seek specialist advice where appropriate.

All building work to your home entails an element of risk to you and your property, which can be reduced by careful project planning and insurance, but it cannot be eliminated completely.

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