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How much will it cost to replace your house (or how much should you insure it for)?
The Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) in the UK has a neat little rebuild cost calculator. This can be used by anyone with a 'normal' house, which means that it's a house and not an apartment; built from brick; not more than two-storeys high and without a basement or cellar; of average quality and design; got no hazardous materials like asbestos; and not listed or considered to be historic.
Don't forget the rebuilding cost can go up each year so you should update the insurance cost from time to time to make sure you are covered at current building costs. Some insurers offer policies linked to rising prices, so that the cover goes up automatically each year. However, inflation in the construction industry often doesn't match the average, so keep an eye on it and on the BCIS's rebuilding calculator. If a large discrepancy builds up, you should revise your cover.
Hopefully you'll never need to make a claim, but don't just rely on hope! There are some things you can do to reduce the risks: Don't plant trees and shrubs too close to your property or your neighbors’' property, and consider the proximity of trees to underground drains. Prune trees and shrubs regularly. Insurance companies go so far as to recommend that you seek expert advice from an arborist to make sure they're pruned correctly. Take professional advice before planting or felling trees. Carry out regular checks for blocked or leaking drains; clear dirt and leaves from gutters; and check pipes for splits.
A bigger and more common danger is fire. You can greatly reduce this risk with the following steps: Fit at least one smoke detector on each floor, and test them regularly.
Check your electrical wiring, check flexes and cables for exposed wiring, and only use a qualified electrician to carry out repairs or alterations. More fires start in the kitchen than anywhere else, so don't leave anything heated by flame unattended.
Chip fat is a major cause of fire. If fat catches fire, smother the flames with a damp cloth, or a lid or plate. Don't try to use water to put it out. Consider keeping a household fire blanket or fire extinguisher. Store flammable liquids, such as methylated spirit, adhesives and paints, in a secure and tidy place, preferably in your shed. Bin or recycle your rubbish, as it could be fuel for a fire. Think about any additional fire hazards associated with special occasions, such as party decorations, Christmas tree lights and barbecues.