DIYers: Don't neglect the outside of your home

Some 9.5 million people will embark on a DIY project this weekend, but most of us concentrate on our home's interior and pay no attention to the costly problems that could be developing outside.

Only 15% of people check their chimney stack on a monthly basis as surveyors recommend, according to Aviva, and 21% admit to never having checked it. But a defective stack can lead to damp problems that can costs up to £1,000 to fix.

"Our research shows that our homes really are our castles and we are taking a great deal of care to make sure there are no unexpected problems lurking in the nooks and crannies of bathrooms, bedrooms and lofts," says Heather Smith, director of home insurance at Aviva.

"But many of the common and expensive problems that affect homes often begin outside the home. For example, damage from damp that seeps in through leaky external walls, standing water on flat roofs, and missing roof tiles."

So, this weekend before you start improving the inside of your home, take the time to give the exterior an MOT. "The longer, lighter evenings provide a perfect opportunity to get outside and have a check around the garden and take a good look at the bricks and mortar. Plus your roof and tiles," says TV DIY expert Craig Phillips.

"But budding DIYers should also make sure they stick within realistic limits of what they are capable of and always use the correct tools and gear to ensure the job is done correctly and safely," he adds.

So what should you be looking out for?

WHAT'S THE PROBLEM? Symptons What would it cost to fix? How often should you check it?
Defective chimney stack or roof flashings Damp stains around the chimney breast Up to £1,000 Every month
Missing roof tiles or covering displaced Damp patches on interior ceilings Up to £5,000 Every month
Defective guttering Damp patches, discolouration or salty deposits on outside walls Up to £250 Twice a year
Wet or dry rot in timber frames Wet timber, a musty smell, white fungal growth Up to £1,000 Once a year
Defective or worn sealant around baths or showers Cracking or shrinking of sealant Up to £250 Every month
Deterioration to flat roofs Standing water on a roof, lifting or cracking of joins or vegetation growth Up to £1,000 Twice a year
Japanese Knotweed Look out for distinctive heart shaped leaves but knotweed looks different through the year. Up to £5,000 Once a year