Time-poor Brits neglect properties to focus on other things

Woman fixing a broken sink

Millions of us are turning a blind eye to leaking taps and unlagged pipes, putting our homes at risk.

By Sarah Lewis

It’s said that us Brits are a nation of homeowners, but if that’s true, then evidence suggests we’re neglectful ones 1.

In our study of 2,000 homeowners, more than a quarter of people admitted to ignoring minor faults around the home until they become bigger, potentially serious, problems that need to be addressed urgently.

A fifth confessed to deliberately turning a blind eye to spend money on other things, and an optimistic one in 10 say they ignore problems in the hope that someone else will deal with them.

Our busy lives could be to blame – almost a quarter (23%) of homeowners said they simply don’t have the time to deal with maintenance issues. Money is an issue for some, although the majority of us (92%) do set some money aside to spend on property emergencies.

When the cracks appear…

If faced with an unexpected bill of £5,000 for essential maintenance due to wear and tear – such as a new boiler or roof repairs – 58% of homeowners told us they would be able to cover the cost from savings. 

Just over a quarter (28%) would use a credit card or loan and 14% would borrow from family or friends. A similar number (15%) would arrange a temporary fix until they could afford the full amount. 

A number of respondents told us they would expect their home insurance to foot the bill, revealing confusion about what home insurance protects. While home insurance covers loss from unexpected events such as fire, theft or flooding, damage caused by ordinary wear and tear is usually excluded.

Product director for Aviva UK General Insurance Adam Beckett says: “We know from our research that there’s some confusion about what is or isn’t covered under home insurance. For example, 30% of UK adults think home insurance would cover ‘anything’ that happens in their home 2, while one in 10 believe it covers wear and tear – but this is not the case. Home insurance is usually designed to cover sudden, unexpected events.

“No-one wants to be in a situation where they think they’re insured, only to be disappointed if they try to make a claim. We’d urge customers to read their policy documents and check with their insurer, to make sure they have the cover which best fits their needs.”

Winter-proof your home

The research was carried out to highlight the need for home maintenance, which is especially important as the weather turns colder.  

Here’s our home checklist for winter-ready homes:

  • Check your roof for missing or damaged tiles or slates. Water damage can spread far and wide, so it’s important to prevent rain from getting in
  • Call a chimney sweep. Unswept chimneys increase the risk of fire, so sweep before you light your fire or stove
  • Clear out gutters and drains, removing any leaves, dirt and debris, so water can drain freely
  • Secure any wobbly fences and broken gates to ensure they will withstand stormy weather. Fences are often excluded by home insurance policies
  • Get your boiler serviced. If your system is old, consider boiler cover in case of any break-downs
  • Insulate. One of the main causes of freezing pipes is lack of lagging. Insulation should be laid on top of pipes rather than underneath them, as insulation laid below the pipes will prevent rising heat reaching them. Don’t forget your loft too
  • Leave the heating on. If you’re going away for a short trip, consider leaving the heating on at a constant low level, so water in pipes will not get cold enough to freeze

Find out what your home insurance covers.