Lockdown tips for home and garden maintenance

Nearly three quarters of UK households (74%) say they plan to carry out some DIY in their homes during the COVID-19 lockdown, according to Compare the Market research.  

Here’s how to use the extended time at home to keep on top of small tasks in and around the home.

Nearly three quarters of UK households (74%) say they plan to carry out some DIY in their homes during the COVID-19 lockdown, according to Compare the Market research.  

Here’s how to use the extended time at home to keep on top of small tasks in and around the home.

Chris King
Home insurance expert
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Posted 14 MAY 2020

Make a plan of action 

First, think about what you’re going to do and whether you’ll need any equipment to do it. There are plenty of retailers selling online and offering delivery. You might have to factor in delays, though, so work out what you need ahead of time. If you can’t source what you need online, some national chains of DIY stores are beginning to reopen a limited number of branches. But it’s important to remember that Government advice is to stay home as much as possible. If you do decide to shop in a DIY store, you must maintain social distancing as you would in any shop. 

Know what you’re doing 

Lockdown is a chance to flex your DIY muscles, but it’s best not to be overly ambitious, so avoid starting any big new DIY projects. 

9% of the people who responded to Compare the Market’s research poll said they’ve never done any DIY before, and only 11% would call themselves DIY experts. If you mess up, social distancing measures mean you may not easily be able to get a tradesperson in to fix your mistakes. Brush up on your home improvement knowledge by watching online videos demonstrating the jobs you want to carry out, and have a good idea of what to do before you make a start. Focus on small tasks.

Sort out insurance 

Of the households in our poll that have had to make a claim on their home insurance in the past, 29% said the reason for the claim was accidental damage. The most common causes for those accidental damage claims were: 

  • stains or spills on the carpet 
  • broken windows, doors or lights 
  • damaged bathroom units – accidents often a result of doing DIY.  

So, it makes sense to check your policy and make sure you’re covered.  

What do people plan to do? 

Here are some of the tasks people who responded to our poll plan to tackle in lockdown. 

DIY Task Percentage of household planning DIY
Cleaning windows 53%
Wall or ceiling painting 35%
Putting up pictures 24%
Putting up or removing wallpaper 14%
Bleeding a radiator 11%
Grouting tiles 8%
Fixing leaking taps/showers 8%
Unblocking a toilet or sink 8%
Cleaning or fixing the washing machine or dishwasher 8%
Fixing a carpet 6%
Hanging a door 5%

DIY ideas 

Here are a few more ideas for things to get on with in your home and outside space.

Around the house 

Patch up the paintwork 
If you’ve got paint left over from the last time you decorated, you can do a bit of DIY snagging, covering marks on walls and filling in where plaster has chipped. Giving your paintwork a good wash down can really brighten things up.  
Fix up your windows 
One of the most important jobs on your lockdown maintenance list should be the windows. Over winter, they’ll have taken a battering from wind, rain and frost. One effect of this could be that the seals are worn, leading to the risk of drafts and rotting frames.  
Re-sealing joints and seams, and repainting your windows is cheap to do. It could save you from expensive fixes when winter comes back around.  

Give your fridge some attention 
When the coils at the back of a fridge get clogged with dust and dirt, they can overheat and stop the fridge working – and even become a fire risk. To clean them, first unplug the fridge, then give them a vacuum or a gentle dust. If that doesn’t get the dirt off, wipe them with a damp rag and, once you’re finished, with a clean, dry cloth. Make sure they’re completely dry before you plug the fridge in again.

In the garden 

Have a general tidy  
If you have an outdoor space, make it an even nicer place to be by giving it a good clean.   
Simple tasks, such as sweeping the patio or balcony and cutting the grass, can make your outside space seem instantly more manageable. Cutting back foliage and doing some weeding can help make way for a new season of growth.  

Repair walkways and fences 
Take a look at your patio and fences to see if they need repairs. You can fill in the gaps between paving, securing any loose slabs to make your pathways neat and safe. If you’ve got a power washer, using this can also improve the appearance of your patio and potentially make it less slippery in places. Otherwise, you might need to resort to a scrubbing brush and garden hose to remove mould and algae. Fix or replace broken fence panels and give them a new coat of stain or varnish, to help protect them from the weather.   
Check your shed, garage or greenhouse 
Make sure these have survived the colder months intact. Check they’re still waterproof. You may need to repaint your shed and ensure that the roofing panels are intact and not letting in water. Check to see that no glass is loose or broken, and that all door hinges and locks are working properly. 

Replace outdoor bulbs 
Now we’re spending more time in our gardens and on our balconies, we want them to be as welcoming as possible. Prepare for evenings outside by checking and, if needs be, replacing all your outdoor bulbs. 
Freshen up your outdoor furniture  
You could use the extra time at home that you may have, to get your outdoor furniture looking its best. Rub down your wooden chairs and tables, clearing off last year’s dirt and grime, ready for a fresh coat of paint or varnish. If you have metal garden sets, apply WD40 to remove any rust before giving them a fresh coat of metal paint.  
If you have children’s toys in the garden, for example swings or trampolines, make sure you inspect these closely in case they’re in need of care or repair. 
Make the most of your plants 
You may not be able to buy new plants, so enjoy the ones you have. Get any repotting done if you have pots available, and make plants go further by propagating them – dividing them up or growing new ones from cuttings. 

Chris King

from the Home team

“Homeowners should be mindful that current Government guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic are to only fix issues around the home and not to take on new projects. 
“Seemingly straightforward household repairs go amiss more often than people may realise. As such, it’s essential that you check the terms and conditions of your home insurance policy before undertaking any renovations. Depending on the work you want to carry out, you may need protection under both contents and buildings insurance, in the event that something goes awry. Moreover, some providers may not cover more complex repairs, for example plumbing and electrical work, if it has not been carried out by a professional.” 

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