Insuring your home

A guide to preventative home maintenance

Mastering home maintenance isn't a secret; it's all about regular checks and being proactive. Timely inspections and repairs may prevent major expenses, preserve your properties value and safeguard your loved ones.

GIO Home Building Insurance insures your home building against damage from unexpected events such as storms, hail or flood1. However it’s important to note our coverage doesn't extend to damage caused by wear, tear, gradual deterioration, or the home not being in good condition. Taking the initiative to maintain your building is part of your responsibility under your policy and may reduce the risk that loss or damage to your home is not covered.

What to check

Check the condition of your roof

Your roof is crucial in keeping the outside elements out. As time passes, it faces significant wear, which, if left unattended, can cause major problems later on.

What to do:

If it's safe, you can visually check for any issues, but we strongly suggest contacting a licensed expert. Look for things like:

  • loose or cracked tiles
  • overgrown moss
  • built-up debris
  • general rust
  • nearby potentially damaging tree branches
  • cracked or dislodged tile mortar
  • damaged or rusted flashings
  • standing water, and
  • leaks.

If you see a problem or have questions, talk to a licensed expert – a DIY fix might make things worse.

How often: We suggest organising a professional inspection around every three to five years.

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Check your plumbing regularly

Keep an eye out for any leaking taps and regularly check the pipes beneath your sinks regularly. Even a small leak can cause a large amount of damage over time.

Since a lot of pipes are hidden from view, an additional way to keep an eye on things is to check your water meter every month. This may help you spot any unexpected usage spikes – which could signal a leak. If you spot any issues, be sure to organise a fix right away.

What to do:

Keep an eye out for:

  • leaking taps
  • dampness or water stains around fixtures or water systems
  • corrosion or rust on pipes
  • patches of dust or dirt left behind by a pool of water that has since dried
  • wood rot or mould
  • calcification at the base or body of taps, which can cause leaks, or
  • signs of damage or wear on your flexi-hoses. These are what connects your fixtures and appliances to the main water supply, and are a common culprit for leaks.

How often: We suggest every six months. Inspect more frequently if you live by the coast due to the saltier air, which causes faster corrosion.

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Clear your roof gutters and downpipes

Your gutters play a vital role in directing water away from areas where it could create issues. Even though they might not be the first thing on your mind, maintaining clear and efficient gutters stands as one of the best ways to safeguard your home.

Plus, any build-up in your gutters can act as fuel during bushfire season.

What to do:

  • remove any debris like leaves, moss or plant matter
  • make sure there is no damage or holes in your gutters or downpipes and they haven’t rusted through
  • ensure no downpipes or gutters are loose or falling down, and
  • organise a repair or replacement if damage has occurred.

How often: Every six months or sooner if there’s lots of vegetation nearby, or in the lead-up to storm or bushfire season.

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Check and maintain structural integrity

An essential aspect of safeguarding your home from expensive damage involves ensuring its structural integrity. Remember that while we typically view our home as the house we reside in, it's vital to also inspect all buildings or structures surrounding our home – like the garden shed or front fence, which may fall and damage the home building.

What to do:

Keep an eye out for any of the following red flags:

  • Cracked, sagging or leaning walls.
  • Uneven floors.
  • Gaps between walls, ceilings and floors.
  • Unevenness in the foundation or signs of water damage to stumps.
  • Wood rot, decay or insect damage to supporting posts, beams and connections.
  • Poor sturdiness and stability. Ensure that all railings, steps and landings are firmly attached and aren’t wobbly or loose.
  • Doors or windows that no longer latch or are difficult to open or close.

Any of these signs may indicate existing or potential underlying issues with the foundation, settlement, or structural supports of your home. And while you can check for signs of possible structural problems, a skilled professional can identify issues that may not be immediately noticeable to someone without specialised training.

How often: As changes occur gradually, we suggest setting a yearly reminder or as advised by a professional.

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Waterproofing and seals in your bathrooms

Waterproofing and sealants degrade over time. The critical areas to watch are the grouting and silicone sealant surrounding the edges of tiled showers. If the grout isn't well maintained, water could seep into and underneath your tiles. This can potentially cause them to loosen over time and eventually result in more extensive damage.

What to do:

  • Inspect and fix any tile grouting or adhesive that may have broken down.
  • Inspect and organise replacements for broken-down sealant around taps, baths, showers, sinks and windows.
  • Check the floor adjacent to your shower bases – water here, especially away from the shower entrance, may indicate a waterproofing issue.
  • Check for any unreachable mould behind silicone sealants. If you spot any, you may need professional assistance.

If you find or suspect there’s damage to the waterproofing, get in touch with a professional sooner rather than later.

How often: We suggest at least once a year.

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Check for pests

Termites, ants and rodents can inflict significant damage if left unchecked. Without regular pest control, there may be damage to foundations, walls and floors leading to structural issues. Plus, these infestations can pose significant health risks.

What to do:

Look out for:

  • Mud tubes both inside and outside the house.
  • Scratches, gnaw marks or droppings both inside and outside the house.
  • Power short-circuiting – this could indicate chewed wires.
  • Nesting.
  • Cracked paint or plaster on your walls – this could indicate termites have made a new home.

If you spot any signs, contact a professional immediately for help on preventing further damage.

How often: We suggest every six months or as advised by a professional.

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Check your home for mould

Mould, troublesome on its own, can serve as a clear indicator of unnoticed water damage or moisture concerns, particularly in areas of your home with poor ventilation.

What to do:

Check for:

  • damp, dull or musty smells
  • allergy symptoms or health issues when in the home
  • dark tile grout
  • discoloured walls or ceilings, and
  • moisture under sinks.

Be careful – inhaling mould can be bad for your health. If the issue persists after you clean the surface level, this may indicate a deeper problem and you’ll likely need a professional to treat the affected areas.

How often: We suggest every six months, but always keep an eye out.

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Repair damage to your walls, floors and ceilings

Walls, whether inside or outside, can be impacted in bustling households. Whether it's a gradual degredation or occasional incidents that cause plaster cracks or dislodged bricks, it's crucial to promptly repair these areas to prevent them from escalating into larger issues.

What to do:

  • Inspect your home for any holes and cracks in walls, floors and ceilings.
  • Seal all identified holes and cracks to prevent unwanted elements like wind, rain and pests from entering your home.
  • Regularly examine your floors for any issues such as protruding nails, warped floorboards or low spots.
  • Fix any floor damage promptly to eliminate trip hazards and prevent serious injuries. This may also protect you from potential liability if someone was to be injured at your property.

How often: We suggest every 12 months, but always keep an eye out.

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Regularly check the areas around the home

Nearby trees can damage your roof and gutters, and debris from them can fuel fires easily. Also, watch for areas with poor drainage around your home. Water that stays can seep into your property, causing problems with foundations and house supports.

What to do:

  • Check the perimeter of your home for overhanging branches or foliage.
  • Ensure water drains away from buildings during rainfall.
  • Trim or remove trees that are close to your home.
  • Check for lumpy patches in the lawn, raised or sunken pathways or driveways, or trees growing unevenly or tilted. These may indicate tree root damage.

Keep in mind that tree roots can affect pipes underground, leading to leaks. If not addressed, these roots can also harm the foundation. It’s best to contact professionals before any damage happens, so keep an eye out for signs of gradual changes.

How often: We suggest every twelve months before storm or bushfire season as a part of regular landscaping upkeep.

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Read more:

1 We do not insure you for bushfire, storm, storm surge, flood or tsunami in the first 72 hours of your policy. Very limited exceptions apply. For full details read the PDS.

Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 trading as GIO. Any advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it. Please read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before you make any decision regarding this product. The Target Market Determination isalso available.

The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.