9.5 million people doing DIY this Easter weekend but risking hefty bills for ignoring outside repairs

Article date: 2 April 2012

UK homeowners are champions at spotting and dealing with common maintenance problems inside their homes, but are risking a potential £10,000 bill for repairs by failing to check for issues on the outside*.

As around one in five people** (18%) or nearly 10 million adults prepare to work on their homes this weekend, research from Aviva reveals that despite being clued up on common indoor DIY or maintenance, potential outdoor problems such as defective chimney stacks, missing roof tiles and blocked guttering remain unchecked.

Only 15% of people check their chimney stack on the monthly basis that surveyors recommend, and 21% admit they’ve never checked this area of the house***. Defective stacks can lead to damp problems in your home and cost up to £1,000 to fix. And one in ten UK homeowners never check their roof for signs of slipping or missing roof tiles, leaving themselves at risk of a hefty repair bill of up to £5,000 if a problem went untreated.

So Aviva is calling on homeowners to carry out their very own home “MOT” this weekend to ensure that common problems beyond the front door don’t become something more serious that could cost thousands to repair.

Heather Smith, director of home insurance at Aviva, said: “Our research shows that our homes really are our castles and we are taking a great deal of care to make sure there are no unexpected problems lurking in the nooks and crannies of bathrooms, bedrooms and lofts.

"That protective spirit is great to see, but many of the common and expensive problems that affect homes often begin outside the home. For example, damage from damp that seeps in through leaky external walls, standing water on flat roofs, and missing roof tiles.

“The good news is there are lots of simple and easy ways to keep homes in check and the more people keep on top of little jobs around their home the less chance there is of something more serious going wrong in the long-term.”

Another serious potential nasty lurking in the garden is Japanese Knotweed, which only two thirds of homeowners would recognise if they saw it. Almost half (46%) of homeowners admit never checking for signs of it and 43% think it is not a serious problem, despite the fact that, according to surveyors, it can cost up to £5,000 to remove if it becomes entrenched and grows quickly, damaging walls, drains and paving.

Moving inside the home the majority of homeowners can easily recognise problem hot spots. For example, 88% of people recognise that dry rot, which is caused by a certain type of fungi, needs urgent attention. Likewise, the majority of homeowners know that wood-boring beetles, which attack exposed timber frames, need to be fixed by a tradesman (67%), rather than themselves (19%), while nearly half of consumers (44%) check the sealant around their bath and shower at least once a month, as surveyors recommend.

Craig Phillips, the well-known TV personality with over 20 years’ experience in the building and DIY industry, is working with Aviva and TV channel Home, to give homeowners advice on how to look after their homes safely.

“It’s great news that millions of us are planning a spot of DIY and home maintenance this Easter weekend, but for some reason people appear to focus on what’s going on inside their properties and neglect the outside. So with the longer, lighter evenings there’s a perfect opportunity to get outside and have a check around the garden and take a good look at the bricks and mortar! Plus your roof and tiles.

“But budding DIYers should also make sure they stick within realistic limits of what they are capable of and always use the correct tools and gear to ensure the job is done correctly and safely.”

The findings form part of a new report, Listen to your Home (PDF 3.51MB) from the UK’s largest insurer. The guide identifies a number of warning signs to look out for in and outside your home:

What’s the problem?

Symptoms to look out for

How much could it cost to fix if left untreated?

How often should you check for it?

Defective chimney stack or roof flashings

Damp stains around the chimney breast

Up to £1,000

Every month

Missing roof tiles or covering displaced

Damp patches on interior ceilings

Up to £5,000

Every month

Defective guttering

Damp patches, discolouration or salty deposits on outside walls

Up to £250

Twice a year

Wet or dry rot in timber frames

Wet timber, a musty smell, white fungal growth

Up to £1,000

Once a year

Defective or worn sealant around baths or showers

Cracking or shrinking of sealant

Up to £250

Every month

Deterioration to flat roofs

Standing water on a roof, lifting or cracking of joins or vegetation growth

Up to £1,000

Twice a year

Japanese Knotweed

Look out for distinctive large heart shaped leaves but knotweed looks different throughout the year – check online for what to look out for

Up to £5,000

Once a year

Aviva has joined forces with the team of experts from the UKTV Home TV channel, helping homeowners to take the stress out of looking after their property. Anyone seeking specific advice on how to deal with a household problem can now send their own question directly to an Aviva partnered expert who will get back to them with a personalised response at  www.lovehome.co.uk/asktheexperts.

For more information on insurance direct from Aviva, go to www.aviva.co.uk.

Follow us on twitter: www.twitter.com/avivauk and find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AvivaUK.


For further media information please contact:
Rebecca Holmes: Aviva Press Office
Telephone: +44 (0)1603 685177 / +44 (0)7800 690731
Email: rebecca.l.holmes@aviva.co.uk

David Chambers: Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Telephone: +44 (0)207 413 3155 / +44 (0)7759 157673
Email: david.chambers@hkstrategies.com

Joey Ng: Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Telephone: +44 (0)207 973 5941 / +44 (0)7946 148933
Email: joey.ng@hkstrategies.com

Notes to editors:

Download the Listen to your Home report (PDF 3.51MB)

* Aviva’s Listen to your Home report asked independent residential surveyor consultancy, BlueBox Partners, what they thought were the top ten most common problems that they found in people’s homes and the kind of cost homeowners might face to put these issues right. The six most common external problems are deterioration to flat roofs; defective chimney stacks and pots; slipped or missing tiles from the roof; drainage gullies blocked by debris; poorly designed retaining wall in a garden; blocked gutters; and cavity wall tie failure. Together, it is estimated that the cost of fixing these external problems would be between £3,500 and £17,500, with an average cost of £10,000.

** Aviva polled 2,041 GB adults about their plans for doing DIY over the Easter weekend. The polling was carried out by ICM Research between 21 and 22 March. According to the Office for National Statistics, there are 47,750,000 adults in the UK:

*** For the research in the Listen to Your Home report, Aviva polled 2,062 GB adults (including 1,382 homeowners) about how often they performed basic interior and exterior maintenance checks. The polling was carried out by Populus between 9 and 11 March.

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