British homes at risk of falling into disrepair

Homeowners faced with collective bill of almost £1.2 billion because of neglected homes. Less than one in four had cover in place to cover the cost.

Austerity measures are causing many home owners to risk letting their homes fall into disrepair, according to research from the AA’s Home Emergency Response Service. The new study reveals that in the past year, over 18.5 million Britons (39 per cent) have delayed home repairs or maintenance or tried to fix things themselves in order to save money.

The findings show that these delays and cost cutting attempts have left homeowners with a collective bill of almost £1.2 billion, as one in five (21 per cent) of those delaying or scrimping on home maintenance have experienced problems or unforeseen costs as a result.

In an effort to save cash, in the past year 14 per cent of people have carried out some DIY work on their home that they would previously have employed a tradesman to do, and 11 per cent have had friends round to help on a DIY project for free.

Eight per cent of people have delayed getting their boiler serviced and the same number has delayed paying to have work done in the garden. Another 5 per cent have put off replacing or repairing a damaged window and 4 per cent have delayed mending a leaky or damaged roof. Some 2 per cent have held off checking or replacing damaged locks.

However, around three million of these cost-cutters suffered problems as a result of their austerity measures, spending an average of £398 each trying to rectify them. Only five per cent of those suffering problems or unforeseen costs were covered by their standard home insurance policy and only one in five (19 per cent) had home emergency response policies that covered the cost.

Some eight per cent of those who had delayed work suffered a home emergency such as a leaking roof or a broken down boiler because they did so, and seven per cent subsequently needed to call a tradesman to deal with it. Three per cent of those who tried to economise on home maintenance ended up having to call a tradesman out to rectify DIY work they had botched.

Tom Stringer, Head of AA Home Emergency Response, said: “As the struggling economy continues to hit people in the pocket, more and more people are putting off home maintenance and are letting their homes get into a state of disrepair. Many homeowners seem to be mirroring the government’s drive for austerity but this can be a false economy as problems tend to get worse in the home if you leave them unresolved.

“Home emergencies can prove expensive if homes are not maintained properly. We would suggest that apart from keeping up their home maintenance properly, homeowners should look carefully at their home insurance policy and consider a stand-alone home emergency policy for peace of mind if they are not adequately covered.”

AA Home Emergency Response Cover starts from £6.99 a month.