A Guide to Safer Home Renovations

Renovating your home is usually a messy, smelly and loud experience that can’t be over soon enough. However, it does not have to be a dangerous time for you and your family. That’s why the folks at the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies prepared these tips for keeping the hazards to a minimum:

  • Do not 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.
  • Do not toss these 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.
  • Store paints, solvents and other flammable liquids that are not in use in a cabinet that complies with “NFPA 30: Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code.”
  • 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 the home.
  • Remove scrap lumber, sawdust, cardboard containers and other highly combustible debris from the construction site every day.
  • Do not allow smoking on the property, or restrict smoking to safe areas and ensure proper cigarette disposal. After workers leave for the day, watch for fires that can be ignited by smoldering materials left in wall cavities after torch use.
  • Install a centrally monitored fire and burglar alarm system advance of any major construction or renovation project. Do not disconnect 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 should be removed after workers leave for the day, which is when fires often occur.
  • Motion-activated lighting can also provide an extra measure of safety when your home becomes a construction zone. So do perimeter fencing, gates or chains across driveways.
  • Security guards can be hired to protect a vacant home from unwanted visitors.

Chubb also recommends that homeowners ask contractors or subcontractors they are considering hiring to furnish a copy of their certificate of liability to confirm they carry adequate insurance.

Homeowners should also talk to their agent or broker about purchasing builder’s risk insurance to cover their insurable interest in areas that are under construction and in any materials or equipment on the site.

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