If you’ve been working with your hands for any length of time, then you know that the difference between a professional job and a DIY project isn’t binary, it’s a spectrum. On one end, you’re taking your team out to build a house on a client’s property, and on the other end, you’re building a birdhouse in your garage just because it seemed like a fun way to kill an afternoon. In the middle, you’ve got storage sheds, home repairs, additional rooms, doghouses and so on. At some point along that spectrum, insuring your project becomes a necessity, either for legal or pragmatic reasons. But where exactly is that point? What kind of DIY projects do you need to get insured, and which ones can you afford to not worry about?
You have a few main concerns, here:
- Are you investing more than you can afford to lose?
- Is liability a concern?
- Will this affect any existing insurance policies you hold?
Take, for instance, building an additional room onto your home. This is going to have an effect on your existing homeowner’s policy, and if you don’t inform your insurer about your project, you may wind up invalidating that policy altogether.
On the other hand, spending a weekend erecting a doghouse in your backyard probably won’t affect your homeowner’s policy at all, and you’re probably not spending more than a hundred dollars on lumber and other materials. You may even be piecing it together from scrap wood left over from another project. The only concern here is liability, which might or might not be covered by your current homeowner’s policy. To play it safe you can always build a doghouse in the garage and wheel it out to the yard on a dolly to make sure you don’t wind up with barbecue guests stepping on a nail or something, but it’s generally worth checking your policy before starting any such project, just to be sure.
There are projects that may be covered by your homeowner’s policy in terms of liability, but wind up costing a little more than piecing a doghouse together out of scrap lumber. A shed, for instance, or costly home improvements. In these instances it’s down to peace of mind. Are you comfortable working without insurance, or would you like to have a safety net just in case?
If you’re bringing other people onto a project, then of course you’re probably going to want some basic liability coverage, but for more DIY projects than not, the rule of thumb is not to worry about insurance unless you feel uncomfortable without it, it’s required by law as with larger structures like guest homes, or it’s affecting a policy you already hold.