Tips to Improve Your Home Environment While Working from Home

By Gary Hilson
Man working from home

If you’re like me, staying home to stay safe during the COVID-19 lockdown has you looking around at all things you’ve meant to do for ages.

Whether you’re a homeowner, condo dweller, or rent an apartment, spring cleaning and working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown presents a chance to inspect your living environment to ensure the safety and comfort of your family.

It’s also an opportunity to make sure you have the right home, condo, or tenant insurance coverage.

What to Look for Outside of Your Home

No matter the size or age of your home, there’s no shortage of small fixes, major repairs, or occasional and seasonal maintenance that needs to be done. If you’re struggling as to where to start, why not take a top to bottom approach?

If you have a fireplace, spring is a great time to clean out your chimney. Beyond getting it swept, consider having a cap installed to keep out water, animals and other debris. While you’re looking upwards, scan the roof. Better still, see if you can get a licensed professional to inspect it make sure there’s no damage that might allow the elements to seep in and cause expensive damage. The Canadian Roofing Contractors Association states its members are still available for hire during the pandemic as roofing maintenance is considered an essential service in Ontario.

Below the roofline, be sure to clean out your eavestroughs so water flows where it should. The onset of spring can pose a potential flooding risk. Otherwise, it can damage exterior walls by seeping into gaps that can lead to mould and rot that may not be covered by insurance.

Similarly, check your foundation — the point where your house meets the ground is a common trouble spot. Be sure to inspect what extends from your home, too, including handrails and porches that could be getting rickety with age. Also, check your walk and driveway, which can deteriorate and cause damage to vehicles or cause someone to trip and fall.

All these areas have implications for your safety and insurance coverage, including whether you’re eligible to make a claim if you have a problem.

What to Look for Inside Your Home or Condo

Condo owners and apartment dwellers have less to survey on the outside, but there are lots of things on the inside that should be checked out.

If you’re lucky enough to have a balcony, the coronavirus lockdown probably has you looking forward to being able to spend time outdoors without leaving home. Getting it ready for the warmer weather is an excellent opportunity to inspect it for anything that might need to be addressed.

If you rent, you have less control over the property. Still, for your health and safety, you should be aware of its state of repair and make sure your landlord is meeting their responsibilities, including the electrical and plumbing. Minor problems could have significant consequences down the road.

Rent or own, condo or house, there are many things you can do to improve your indoor environment. Older buildings can accumulate issues such as mould in the kitchen or the bathroom that can affect the health of residents. Plus, if you’re a homeowner who rents a basement apartment or secondary suite in your dwelling, it’s crucial to ensure your insurance provider knows about it.

Even dust in less travelled corners of the home can worsen breathing. If you’re stuck inside, it’s a good time to go hard with the vacuum — don’t forget to clean any vents. If you own your own home, take time to replace furnace and air conditioning filters. If you don’t own, see what’s being done by building management to optimize the air quality on your behalf.

No matter where you live, you should be sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Double-check them if you didn’t already when the clocks sprung forward.

Update Your Contents List and Clear Out Clutter

The health of your home affects both your wellbeing and meeting the obligations of an insurance policy because a well-maintained home is more likely to weather the elements most common for causing home insurance claims But, your coverage is also there to protect what’s in your home.

You might want to take the time being stuck at home to get clarity around what you’re insuring. Is the value of what you own accurately reflected in your policy? Do you own anything uniquely valuable that should be noted? For instance, antique furniture, or a toy train collection? Other clutter may not be worth money but pose a safety hazard, so now’s the time to tidy up and figure out how to get rid of it.

Whether you’re working from home or self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic, take this time to refamiliarize yourself with your home environment, and make sure your home insurance coverage is up to date.