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A shedload of value

Forget potting plants - you're just a likely to find dad on the internet in the shed these days.

Gone are the days when dads pottered about in the garden shed, tinkering with machinery or finding new ways to keep unwanted insects off their vegetable patch. Don’t get us wrong, there’s no doubt that men still use the garden shed as a refuge – a means of escaping the hustle and bustle of a busy household. But nowadays that little wooden structure at the end of the garden is often seen as an extension of the living room, a place where a person can watch TV in peace or mess around on the internet. Of course, this new found use means that the value of a shed’s contents has sky-rocketed.

According to insurer Swinton, the Great British garden shed is just as likely to house iPods and laptops as the mower and weedkiller these days. And it says that this is something to be seriously thought about when it comes to insurance.

A poll recently conducted by Swinton showed that the value of the contents of the average shed has trebled in the past 10 years. This seems to have arisen as a direct result of inventions such as wireless internet and expensive push bikes. If you’ve turned green and have ditched the car in favour of a cycle to work, the chances are that you’re storing your two wheels in the shed.

Alongside the bikes and laptops there are sprinkler systems, electric hedge clippers, cordless drills, strimmers, jet hoses, summer lights, gas barbeques, digital radios and even TVs. The value of this lot soon adds up.

Of the 2,000 males surveyed for the poll, a mere 5 per cent estimated the like-for-like cost of replacing the contents of their garden shed at less than £500. While 30 per cent of them though that the value would be over £700, 37 per cent said £500, and 22 per cent thought that it was over £1,000. A significant 6 per cent said that the value was likely to be more than £1,500.

Chris Collings, insurer development director at Swinton, said: “Sheds full of top-notch gear are a goldmine for thieves so it’s important to keep them secure and locked up. Car boot sales are full of stolen bikes and fly mowers. If you leave your shed unlocked then you might not be covered by your home contents policy so it pays to keep your items under lock and key. It’s also worth keeping receipts as proof of purchase.”

If you’re worried about the contents of your shed then Swinton shares some top tips for keeping it safe.

  • Lock away all tools and equipment and ensure your shed is securely locked when not in use – cover windows with wire mesh on the inside
  • Use plant protection such as thorny shrubs on border fencing
  • Use trellis fencing as a noisy and irksome deterrent to climbing and consider anti-climb paint for drains pipes and wall tops
  •  Install security lighting which comes on automatically
  • Extend your burglar alarm to cover outbuildings and sheds
  • Mark expensive items such as lawnmowers and bikes with your postcode
  • Check home contents insurance small print to see if it covers the contents of your garden and garden shed or summer house
  • Join your Neighbourhood Watch scheme
  • Consider bringing the most expensive items into the house when you go on holiday.

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