If Your Home Is Empty During Your Kitchen Remodel - You Need Vacant Home Insurance

Does Your High-End Kitchen Remodel Have You Shopping for Vacant Home Insurance?

Most kitchen remodeling projects can be managed over a two or three week period with the family remaining in the home. However we have seen high end projects have clients searching for vacant home insurance! When clients look at a high end kitchen remodeling project, they almost always underestimate how long the project will take. As a good rule of thumb, multiply the time you think the renovation should take by a factor of 3 or just slightly less. What do we mean by high end kitchen remodeling? We are not talking about what a "house flipper" would do quickly before selling a house. We are talking about most or all of what is below and the price tag will easily eclipse $50,000:

  1. Complete demolition of the existing kitchen!
  2. Removal of all "old" existing appliances. (We have seen "old appliances" be just 2 or 3 years old and removed for color alone!)
  3. Custom kitchen cabinets with under-cabinet and inside-cabinet lighting and glass doors. (We are not talking about the kitchen cabinet kits you can purchase from Ikea but rather custom carpentry.
  4. The takedown of load bearing walls and carving through others to accommodate an over-sized glass window, slider, or even French doors.
  5. A wall removal for the purpose of an addition, built to expand the size of the kitchen.
  6. High end new appliances such as an oversized a Sub Zero Refrigerator.
  7. A six burner range. (Gas of course, which may mean the installation of a gas line!)
  8. Full venting of exhaust in direct-vent fashion outside the home (not just taking smoke and steam and displacing it to another part of the house or the attic)
  9. Granite or concrete counter top and breakfast island.
  10. Water line to the icemaker
  11. Separate "scalding hot" water on demand, as a separate fixture in the double sink (stainless steel is no longer posh for this level of remodel)
  12. Breakfast nook

In many cases, a project like the one above can easily last for 6 weeks. Now, here is something ironic. If the family will not be living in the house for longer than 30 days, they need to check with their existing homeowners insurance company to see if they will have reduced coverage on their home or if the homeowners insurance company could deny the claim due to the house being considered empty or vacant. In extreme cases, the family may need to seek vacant home insurance while they are out of the house. To compound the problem, a vacant home insurance policy may not work on a home that is under what insurer's consider to be "major renovation" and this type of kitchen remodel may qualify, especially if load bearing walls are being removed or an addition is being built.

In these extreme cases a special contractors insurance called builders risk insurance may be needed in lieu of a vacant homeowners insurance policy. In any even, have this conversation with your insurance agent before you begin the work.

What is the re-sale impact of an extremely high end kitchen remodeling project like the one described here? Unfortunately, it's no better than neutral. As $10,000 to $20,000 strategic kitchen remodeling jobs can return 100% of the investment at the time of sale, for a massive renovation at this high end level, you should be able make your money back in a very sought after zip code or neighborhood, but that's about it. For the most part, these renovations are not done to make money on a sale, but rather to give a family a dream kitchen in a house that probably will be with the family for a generation. So take the family to Monaco for 5 weeks and toss the key to your contractor, just call your insurance agent first.

Return To Kitchen Remodeling Articles