Home Renovations Gone Wrong

by | Mar 27, 2015 | Home Renovations

Here are 9 key safety tips to remember this spring

Mar 27, 2015 / By Jayleen R. Heft

Major house fires are often caused by contractors and others working in a home. (Photo: Shutterstock) Major house fires are often caused by contractors and others working in a home. (Photo: Shutterstock)

With the arrival of spring, many homeowners decide it’s time to start renovations or undertake maintenance projects to add additional value to their homes. In some cases, however, these projects result in unnecessary disaster.

Major house fires can be caused by contractors and others working in a home. For example, improperly disposed of oily rags can spontaneously combust, igniting an oil-soaked deck or other surface, spreading fire to the rest of your home.

To prevent such a disaster, here are nine common-sense rules to prevent your home from going up in flames this year during renovation season.

Home security system panel

(Photo: Shutterstock)

1. Install fire and burglar alarm system

James King, assistant vice president and technical field manager for Chubb Personal Insurance, suggests that homeowners install a fire and burglar alarm system in advance of any major construction or renovation project. He also warns against the common practice of disconnecting these systems during construction to prevent false alarms from dust when workers sand or plaster. Instead, cover sensors with plastic bags or manufacturer-provided covers that can be removed after workers leave for the day.

construction fence

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2. Install motion-activated lighting and perimeter fencing

To protect your home from unwanted visitors, King recommends installing motion-activated lighting, perimeter fencing, gates or chains across driveways and, if the home is vacant, consider hiring security guards.

“Vacant construction sites tend to attract unwanted attention and increase the chance of theft, vandalism and injury,” he said.

contractor shaking hands with homeowner

(Photo: Shutterstock)

3. Review certificates of liability

Be sure to ask contractors and subcontractors to furnish a copy of their certificate of liability to confirm they carry adequate insurance. In addition, homeowners should talk to their agent or broker about purchasing builder’s risk insurance to cover your insurable interests in areas that are under construction and in any materials or equipment on the site.

woman on cellphone talking to insurance agent

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4. Keep your insurance agent informed about project

It’s a good idea to keep your insurance agent or broker informed about the status of your renovation project so your homeowner’s policy coverage and limits can be be modified as new rooms or other major alterations or additions are completed.

smoking construction worker

(Photo: Shutterstock)

5. Don’t allow smoking on the property

To help prevent fires, don’t allow smoking on your property, or restrict smoking to safe areas and ensure proper cigarette disposal. Also, after workers leave for the day, watch for fires that can be ignited by smoldering materials left in wall cavities after torch use.

house construction debris

(Photo: Shutterstock)

6. Remove combustible debris from construction site every day

Remove scrap lumber, sawdust, cardboard containers and other highly combustible debris from the construction site every day.

fire extinguisher

(Photo: Shutterstock)

7. Mount portable fire extinguishers

Mount portable fire extinguishers, preferably multi-purpose (ABC) models of at least 10 pounds, in accessible areas throughout the worksite and on each level of your home.

House interior painter

(Photo: Shutterstock)

8. Store paints, solvents and other flammable liquids safely

Store all flammable liquids that are not in use in a cabinet that complies with “NFPA 30: Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code.”

paint drop cloth

(Photo: Shutterstock)

9. Properly dispose of solvent-stained cloths and work clothes

Don’t ball up, pile, stack or fold wiping cloths, rags, drop cloths, steel wool or work clothes that come into contact with solvents such as wood stain, linseed oil, alkyd enamel resins, motor fuel, and oil-based paint and other products. Also don’t toss those items into a trashcan or plastic bucket.

Instead, immerse them in water in a metal container with an airtight lid. After they are saturated, fully air dry the items by laying them flat on a non-combustible surface and then contact the local solid waste authority regarding safe disposal.