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Insurance for Timber Buildings in the Garden

It must be my age, but I can’t tell you how exited I was at the end of last week as my new garden shed finally arrived. It was a kind of birthday present to myself, and after putting up with two rotten hulks of sheds for the last 10 years, I’m over the moon at having plenty of space and can now have a good sort out. My neighbour, who helped to erect the shed in return for Sunday lunch and a couple of beers, raised a valid point as we were finishing off. Another neighbour a few doors away had lit a bonfire and jokingly he said, I hope you have arranged insurance on this, as you may need it.

Well it’s a good point actually, are sheds and outbuildings covered by a home buildings insurance policy?

In our area in the last few years, the number of people moving home has dropped and the number of improvements to existing buildings has increased. Just nosing over the gardens I have seen a number of super sheds be erected along with a number of home offices or studios. I know of least three people that are now running a business from their gardens, and of course, this does raise a question with regard to adequate insurance protection being in force.

The main issue relates to the use of the outbuilding in question. If it’s just a shed like mine, then usually no further action is required, and the structure will be covered under your existing buildings policy A typical definition under a buildings insurance policy states “Any permanent structure used for domestic purposes within the grounds of your home including outbuildings”. I say no further action is required, but you should check your sum insured is adequate. My shed is a fairly modest affair, and I know that my sum insured is more than adequate not to need an uplift but having seen the prices of some of the structures at the garden centre, some people may need to discuss the matter with their insurers or broker.

Now, when it comes to contents that may be a different matter. My sheds are filled up with nothing but gardening equipment, a couple of pedal cycles and the barbeque equipment. That said I do know some people who have veritable Aladdin’s caves in their gardens where over spill from the house lives (all those things you will never need or use again but can’t bear to throw away) Sometimes contents kept in outbuildings can run in to thousands of pounds and it is a good idea to check under your contents insurance policy to see if there are any restrictions with regard to items kept outside of the main building, particularly enquire if there are any additional security requirements.

Turning now to timber buildings used in the garden for business purposes, these are a little trickier to insure and many home insurance providers do not like this type of risk, particularly if members of the public visit the premises or the timber building contains business contents such as computers etc. Working from home is becoming more popular, and timber offices for the garden are a popular choice for those that want to work at home but still be away from the main house. My advice if you do decided to buy a home office, check with your buildings insurance as to whether they will consider including a structure that is being used for business purposes: the same thing with your contents insurers, you may find that you need to take out a more specialised form of policy that will cover your contents used for business purposes and liabilities as well.

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