Experts are predicting widespread damage is possible after Storm Ciaran, as new statistics show that homeowners have been cutting back on essential home and garden maintenance due to the cost of living increase.
Storm Ciaran is approaching, and with it the prospect of falling trees, flying fences and roaming roof tiles. Some storm damage will be inevitable for many of us – but according to insight from MyBuilder.com, the reliable way for homeowners to find tradespeople, this storm may bring more than usual.
New data from MyBuilder.com suggests a significant drop in the amount of people completing essential maintenance, which could cost homeowners much more in the long run. Demand data shows that tree surgery jobs are down 15 per cent year on year, and down even more at 29 per cent against 2021. Trimming of large trees (which are most likely to cause significant damage) is down 39 percent compared to two years ago.
Basic tree risk assessment involves an objective review of a tree’s condition, the surrounding site, plus the potential impact on homes should a tree fall. These assessments – essential in keeping homes safe – are also down by a substantial 21 per cent.
While Storm Ciaran is fast approaching, the UK is likely to face many more storms this winter so it’s never too late to assess potential issues in your home and garden. Assessing the risk now could see homeowners save much more money down the line.
However, while long-term preparation is important to avoid storm damage, there are also some immediate actions you can take to protect your home. Should damage ensue, there are various rules and regulations to get your property safe and secure again. MyBuilder.com experts have put together guidance on how to safeguard your home against the ensuing storm.
Andy Simms, a building expert from MyBuilder.com, said that routine checks should be done on our properties with or without the threat of a storm. However, with the impending arrival of extreme weather this week, there are some effective last-minute checks and tasks to undertake that will minimise damage.
“Storm Ciaran looks like it could create havoc across the country for homeowners. MyBuilder data suggests people have cut back on home maintenance, from boiler servicing to tree surgery. This could now lead to substantial issues and costs if the worst happens.
“It’s really important to keep an eye on your property’s state, including tree maintenance, roof health and the stability of any chimney stacks. If you don’t, and damage ensues, you could find that your home insurance won’t cover it.
“However, if these haven’t been done, don’t panic. There are short-term measures you can take to minimise your risks and mean you are aware of any issues that might need attention later.
“If you notice any issues, it’s worth calling a professional in to try and rectify before the bad weather hits – or book them in to come out as soon as they can afterwards.”
Before the storm
There are many ways you can protect your home before the storm arrives, checks to make before the storm include:
Taking down loose fence panels and posts
Though this might sound dramatic, it’s better to take down insecure panels and posts than leave them to be battered by the wind, where they could be blown down and cause further damage to property. Ideally, take them down and secure them in a safe place where they can be reinstated (properly) later. Rotten wood is likely to fall victim to strong wings, and can cause serious accidents if left unsecured.
Guttering tends to be an area we ignore, but it can cause a whole heap of problems if you do. In fact, damage caused by blocked gutters is often not covered under home insurance policies.
Our guttering and downpipes do the vital job of keeping the bulk of wet weather away from our walls, where persistent moisture can lead to damp. Blocked gutters can cause flooding and leaks in your home, while loose guttering is a hazard in high winds. Make sure all sections of your guttering are firmly secured and attached to the next piece, to allow it to do its job properly.
Check your chimney
Don’t do this if winds are already high, but if you get a chance to check out your chimney pre-storm it might save you some issues. Chimney cowls, pots, and guards are all at risk during high winds, and can cause damage to your roof, gardens, cars, or people should they fly away. If you notice any issues, it’s worth getting an expert out, but a quick fix can be to remove any loose parts for the duration of the storm.
Look for loose tiles
Loose tiles are probably the first things to go when the gusts and gales arrive, and can be a particular problem for older roofs which haven’t been checked or inspected for several years.
Even a single missing tile – or just one that has shifted out of place – can leave a gap big enough for water to enter your roof space, which can cause considerable damage if not fixed quickly. If you can re-secure a tile then do, but a really wonky one might be best to be removed and reinstated after the storm.
Remove any risky tree branches – or the whole tree
After any storm you’re likely to see twigs and leaves all over the place. However, larger branches can damage windows, cars, fences – and people! If any of the trees on your property have obviously fractured branches, it’s best to remove them before the storm. If the entire tree is looking risky, it would be wise to get it removed entirely, before it does serious damage.
Learn how to switch off utilities
Research commissioned by MyBuilder.com uncovered that millions of homeowners and renters are putting their lives in danger and risk causing thousands of pounds worth of damage, because they don’t know how to turn off the essential live services supplying their homes.
The survey revealed that a third (33 percent) wouldn’t know how to turn off their gas in the event of an accident, almost half (43 percent) don’t know how to turn their gas supply off and a fifth wouldn’t know how to switch the electricity off. Almost one in five (19 percent) don’t know how to turn off their water.
Not knowing how to locate these vital safety features can have potentially lethal consequences, as well as being costly to repair devastating water or fire damage. It’s important to learn these skills before a storm as the likelihood of emergencies rises.
After the storm
Often a casualty of high winds, checking your fences is essential after extreme weather. If a panel is down, assess if it can be put back up or if it’s too damaged. Before repairing your fence, speak to your neighbours.
There is a common misconception that people tend to own the fence to the left – or the right – of their back garden, but there are no hard and fast rules. In fact, even consulting your property deed or the Land Registry might not help, as there is no requirement in England or Wales for boundary ownership to be specified.
However, you may see a small “T” next to a boundary – if this falls on your side, then it is your duty to maintain. If there are two “T”s together (forming what looks like a “H”) then it is a shared boundary that you and your neighbour own and must maintain between you.
Look at upgrading fencing
If your fence has taken a battering, or is prone to falling over, then it might be a good time to consider replacing it. There are options to consider now including “wind resistant” fencing, useful if you live in an area with limited protection from storms.
Probably a job for the professionals after a storm. Getting a fascias, soffits and guttering specialist to fix your issue isn’t usually an expensive job, but can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Guttering is essential for the health of your house, and missing damage to it can have disastrous consequences.
Rate your roof
Your roof is the area most likely to receive damage in high winds, and missing the issue can cause leaks and expensive damage. While it might be tempting to check out your roof yourself, it can be extremely dangerous, and it’s always best to call in the professionals.
Trim your trees
If you have lost trees during a storm, call in a tree surgeon to safely dispose of them. If you are concerned about any remaining trees’ stability, it’s worth getting them checked to make sure they are still structurally sound.