Storm damage is becoming more of a problem in the UK, as each year periods of extreme weather affect thousands of homes with powerful gusts and prolonged downpours. Only a few months ago in February, Storm Doris hit certain parts of the UK with wind speeds of over 90mph and 25mm of rainfall. This brought with it travel chaos, risk to life and damage to property.
As these storms become a frequent part of our weather pattern, more of us are taking steps to protect our homes from the risk of storm damage and associated costs of repairs.
The following steps will help keep you prepared and ready for inclement weather, the worst of which tends to strike over the Winter months.
1. Check that you have sufficient insurance cover
In most instances your home insurance (which covers your building and contents) will provide protection against the costs associated with repairs to your home following storm damage.
However, it’s always a good idea to review your cover regularly to ensure it’s valid and up to date. You should also make sure that your policy is sufficient to cover the cost of rebuilding your property, not its market value. This is particularly important if you have extended your home or made significant renovations and improvements since your purchased your original policy.
You may also find that your policy does not provide cover for certain types of storm damage such as damage to fences, damage caused by fallen trees, frost or hail stones or by the weight of snow. If this is the case, you may need to take out additional cover.
When reviewing your policy you should also consider:
- Informing your insurer if you are leaving your home unoccupied for an extended length of time so as not to invalidate your policy.
- Ensuring that your car insurance provides adequate cover for storm damage (this is not covered under home insurance).
- Taking out boiler cover (if this is not already covered under your home insurance) to cover the cost of expensive repairs should it freeze or break down over the winter months.
2. Maintain and protect areas that are susceptible to storm damage
Carrying out maintenance on your home (e.g. fixing loose roof tiles or damaged guttering) is important so loose or broken fittings do not cause further damage during a storm. Failure to carry out regular and adequate maintenance may leave you unprotected when you need to make a claim.
Items that require regular maintenance include:
- Roof – Fix loose or damaged tiles, damaged or blocked chimneys, loose television satellites or aerials, remove debris from your roof.
- Building Fabric – Fix loose mortar or cracks, treat areas of damp.
- Drainage – Unblock and upgrade gutters or drainpipes, remove debris in the system, clear ground drains.
- Windows & Doors – Upgrade windows to withstand strong windows, fix loose fastenings and locks, consider fitting internal shutters.
- Gardens – Secure loose covering on sheds, remove weak tree branches, weak roots, repair loose fences, gates or walls, secure free standing garden furniture, ornaments and children’s toys (e.g. trampolines)
When it comes to removing tree branches, have a word with your local council first. They will tell you if there is a lopping procedure that needs to be observed during the removal.
3. Prepare a flood plan if you live in a flood risk area
If you live on a flood plain, storms can be a real problem. Increased rainfall can mean rivers will burst their banks and become a real misery for local residents.
Creating a flood plan provides you with a list of actions for protecting your home and your family. It will detail what in your home needs to move to safety, how you plan to secure and protect your home, evacuate your family and who needs to be called in the event of a flood (your insurers, utility companies, family and friends).
A flood plan can not only prevent important items being destroyed, but also prevent injury to your family. We’ve provided further information on what a flood plan entails which you can read here.
4. Prepare your property for the storm
If you know a storm is on it’s way the first thing to do is take a walk around the outside of your home to identify potential problems. Look for anything that might be loose which could get damaged, cause further damage or blow away in high winds. This might include dead or diseased tree branches, holes in mortar or missing bricks, unsecured garden furniture, cracked or missing tiles.
Once you have made a note of everything that needs repair, securing or storing, you can then set about taking necessary action before the storm strikes.
- Close all windows and doors.
- Dismantle and store garden furniture/ornaments/games/BBQs in a garage or shed (bring it inside if you don’t have these options).
- Close washing poles and taking down washing lines.
- Park cars in your garage or away from trees and fences.
- Stay indoors during the storm – do not be tempted to go outside to repair damage.
5. Clearing up after a storm
Once the storm has passed and it’s safe to do so, check your home for signs of damage. This is particularly important as storms have the capacity to strip your home of its ability to protect you from adverse weather.
First go outside to check the exterior of your home and garden for signs of damage. Make items such as broken guttering, blown down fences, smashed windows, fallen branches as safe and secure as possible.
When you have checked outside your home it’s prudent to also check the interior. Look for any damp walls or rafters that could indicate problems with the waterproofing of your home (missing tiles, broken guttering), and be aware of any new draughts that weren’t there before the storm. This could indicate a hidden problem.
Once you have identified the problems, call in the professionals for help with carrying out necessary repairs.Whilst it’s easy to leave storm preparations until the last minute, a bit of advance planning can eliminate the risks severe weather poses to your home along with the inconvenience and cost of repairs.
If you have suffered storm damage and are in the process of making a claim for repair and restoration work, please feel free to contact Tangible Building. We are experienced insurance claim builders specialising in carrying out high quality repairs to homes who have suffered storm, water, flood and fire damage. Free phone us on 0800 328 4188 or request a call back.