Nine Safety Tips to Keep in Mind While Renovating Your Home

With winter behind us, it is common for homeowners to begin on new home renovation projects this time of year. Renovations are an excellent way to increase the value of your home, but also unfortunately make your home more vulnerable to certain risks. Major house fires can be caused by the ongoing work in your home. If a house is left vacant, it can become a target for burglary. To prevent potential disasters while renovating your home, follow these 9 common-sense rules from Property Casualty 360. 

1. Install fire and burglar alarm system.
James King, assistant vice president and technical field manager for Chubb Personal Insurance, suggests that homeowners install a fire and burglar alarm system in advance of any major construction or renovation project. He also warns against the common practice of disconnecting these systems during construction to prevent false alarms from dust when workers sand or plaster. Instead, cover sensors with plastic bags or manufacturer-provided covers that can be removed after workers leave for the day.

2. Install motion-activated lighting and perimeter fencing.
To protect your home from unwanted visitors, King recommends installing motion-activated lighting, perimeter fencing, gates or chains across driveways and, if the home is vacant, consider hiring security guards.
“Vacant construction sites tend to attract unwanted attention and increase the chance of theft, vandalism and injury,” he said.

3. Review certificates of liability.
Be sure to ask contractors and subcontractors to furnish a copy of their certificate of liability to confirm they carry adequate insurance. In addition, homeowners should talk to their agent or broker about purchasing builder’s risk insurance to cover your insurable interests in areas that are under construction and in any materials or equipment on the site.

4. Keep your insurance agent informed about project.
It’s a good idea to keep your insurance agent or broker informed about the status of your renovation project so your homeowner’s policy coverage and limits can be modified as new rooms or other major alterations or additions are completed.

5. Don’t allow smoking on the property.
To help prevent fires, don’t allow smoking on your property, or restrict smoking to safe areas and ensure proper cigarette disposal. Also, after workers leave for the day, watch for fires that can be ignited by smoldering materials left in wall cavities after torch use.

6. Remove combustible debris from construction site every day.
Remove scrap lumber, sawdust, cardboard containers and other highly combustible debris from the construction site every day.

7. Mount portable fire extinguishers.
Mount portable fire extinguishers, preferably multi-purpose (ABC) models of at least 10 pounds, in accessible areas throughout the worksite and on each level of your home.

8. Store paints, solvents, and other flammable liquids safely.
Store all flammable liquids that are not in use in a cabinet that complies with “NFPA 30: Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code.”

9. Properly dispose of solvent-stained cloths and work clothes.
Don’t ball up, pile, stack or fold wiping cloths, rags, drop cloths, steel wool or work clothes that come into contact with solvents such as wood stain, linseed oil, alkyd enamel resins, motor fuel, and oil-based paint and other products. Also don’t toss those items into a trashcan or plastic bucket.
Instead, immerse them in water in a metal container with an airtight lid. After they are saturated, fully air dry the items by laying them flat on a non-combustible surface and then contact the local solid waste authority regarding safe disposal.

Tips from Jayleen R. Heft at Property Casualty 360.