Protect your new home before, during and after it’s built
Building your dream home can turn into a nightmare if it’s damaged or burglarized during construction.
Everything and the Kitchen Sink
For new homes valued at $1 million and above, home construction theft is becoming more common. Canadian thieves walk – or drive – off with $32 million each year, with nearly $12 million of that coming from equipment stolen in the GTA.1 Whether it’s nailed down or not, it can still be taken - from construction materials like lumber to fixtures, home electronics and kitchen appliances - and thieves will walk away with anything they can turn into a profit. However, the thieves’ primary target seems to be copper, which trades so easily that it’s seen to be just as good as cash.2
Up in Smoke
Then, there’s the damage caused by fire and flooding. A new home construction site can be a messy and unprotected environment – caused by the carelessness of the contractor themselves and/or natural elements. Materials like sawdust, cardboard and debris left lying around can serve as hearty fuel for a fire ignited with combustible equipment or tools not properly disengaged.
Here are some ways to safeguard your rising investment while it’s being raised:
- Fireproof It. Maintain at least one fire extinguisher (with at least 10 lbs. of capacity) for every 2,000-sq. ft. per floor during construction. Once the home is fully enclosed, consider installing a temporary but centrally-monitored fire alarm system, with heat sensors every 1,000 feet and smoke detectors approximately 30 feet apart – all meeting UL or similar industry standards.
- Limit Access. Install temporary fencing to keep trespassers off the construction site, including gates and chains for fence entrances and exits. Most importantly, make sure they’re locked at the end of each day’s work.
- Illuminate the Area. Add motion-activated lighting all around the construction site to illuminate the area when the crews are gone for the day. Keeping the area well-lit will discourage intruders.
- Detect Burglar Activity. Install a temporary, centrally-monitored burglar detection system, with sensors in the main areas of the home, like the hallway and living room. Consider interior motion sensors and perimeter contacts on all accessible doors. For homes worth more than $3 million, consider an intelligent digital video recorder (DVR) system placed around the perimeter as well as surveillance warning signs at all site entrances.
Once you’ve safeguarded your home construction project to the best of your ability, follow up with a formal construction appraisal. An on-site appraisal is typically free and will help estimate the replacement cost of your home as it’s being built. The appraiser may also have additional security recommendations that could help prevent loss.
Where there’s heightened risk, construction design matters
When it comes to designing your new home in a high-risk area, it’s important to note that city building codes aren’t necessarily congruent with insurance underwriting requirements. Consider the following guidelines to safeguard your home from hurricane or flood damage and ensure optimal premium pricing:
Hurricane mitigation. Where hurricanes are a risk, an underwriter will want to know that wind-impact resistant glass or compliant shutters are installed on all openings, including skylights and garage doors. Do this during the early design stage, as it is more costly and visible to add these elements after construction.
Flood elevation. While building codes in flood areas require that living space be positively elevated, they don’t usually include the home’s garage area, which may be important to the insurance underwriter.
Don’t let your dream home become a nightmare to safely build or maintain long term. Before beginning any new home construction project, contact your HUB broker to find out what you need to know to prevent theft, accidents or unusually high premiums for high value homes as well as homes in high risk areas.