We tend to think of the humble garden shed as an out of the way place to store handy items that don’t cost much (or just don’t fit anywhere else).
But no longer just a haven for the odd garden spade and muddy pair of wellies, sheds are now being used in a range of novel and creative ways.
In fact, even if you’re not using your shed as a home gym or backyard art studio, many UK homeowners end up housing expensive gardening equipment, fancy bikes, lawnmowers, and even fridge freezers in their sheds.
If you totted up the value of everything in your shed, chances are it would come to a higher sum than you realised.
Read our guide to shed insurance to check you’ve got the right level of cover in place.
It might be – sheds and outbuildings are generally covered by standard home insurance policies – but you should check that your policy is not one of the few that excludes them and also that your level of coverage is sufficient.
Your buildings insurance should protect against the effects of storms and floods, as well as loss from fire or vandalism.
Contents insurance may well cover some items in your shed, but policies can vary enormously when it comes to paying out for something that’s been stolen, from £500 to an unlimited amount.
Some insurers might require you to take out additional cover for more expensive items. Admiral’s Home Insurance policies all cover sheds and outbuildings, and Admiral's interactive home is an easy way to check the level of coverage for each policy.
Thieves love sheds, not just because they’re separate from the main building of the home, but also because people can be somewhat lax about keeping them locked.
In 2014, 3,000 sheds were broken into in Warwickshire alone.
When it comes to taking out insurance, be sure to ask your provider if they’ll cover you in the event of theft and how much they’ll be willing to pay out. You don’t want to have your £1,000 lawnmower stolen to discover that your insurer will only cover you for £500. Remember, too, that insurers might not uphold a claim unless they have proof that your shed was locked and that the thieves had to force entry.
Bikes can be treated separately when it comes to contents insurance. You should let your insurer know if you’re storing your bike in your shed, especially if it’s worth over £350. Lots of providers offer Bicycle Insurance as an add-on to a standard policy; find out everything you need to know about covering your bicycle with our guide.
Make sure you provide all the necessary details for each bike, keep any original receipts as proof of purchase, and invest in a decent bike lock to use every night. Insurers might insist on a certain lock type for pedal cycles over a certain value.
No matter how comprehensive your home insurance cover is, there are some things that should never be kept in a shed. These include important papers and documents, such as passports, as well as money and jewellery.
Not only are these things too valuable to store in an outbuilding, you also risk losing them to flooding, leaks or fire. Remember that the average shed isn’t well insulated and won’t protect things from cold or damp.
Do a quick sense check. Is your shed or outbuilding as secure as it could be? If the answer is no, it’s important that you take the time to make some simple changes. Investing in good quality locks for the windows and doors is an excellent start. Also consider fitting a battery-operated alarm and security lights.
Keep your shed locked at all times and keep in a safe, hidden place. o ward off weather damage, it’s worth checking your shed in the same way you’d check your home. Make regular inspections for signs of decay, damp or rot, especially in the winter