DIY SOS: Why it’s always important to have a back-up plan when embarking on home improvements

Couple DIY

In recent months households up and down the country have come together to share many of the same experiences, from Zoom quizzes to home schooling, Joe Wicks’ workouts and clapping for the NHS.

Some of these tasks may have presented certain challenges and not all will have been a roaring success, but few will have required professional help.

Sadly, nearly one in three (31%) Brits we surveyed who carried out DIY projects since lockdown began, are facing the prospect of having to call in a professional to help finish or, in some cases fix the work they started.

An estimated 10.8 million households, or 72% of UK homeowners, made use of the extra time at home during lockdown to undertake DIY home improvements, according to a study earlier this summer by Confused.com1.

Since then we have conducted our own survey2 of 1,500 adults who have undertaken some form of DIY since the UK entered into lockdown on March 23rd and found that as many as one in three (33%) failed to complete their project.

Now that restrictions have eased, many people are calling on professionals to help get jobs over the line or completed to a higher standard.

For the majority of households who failed to complete their projects 34%, said the reason work was left unfinished was because other jobs or priorities got in the way, while one in five (20%) said the extent of the work became overwhelming. A further 20% said that money was the issue and they didn’t have the funds to finish the project.

According to Chris Rice, a 36-year career builder and DIY expert, he’s been called out to several jobs from lockdown DIYers in need of help. One gentleman had attempted to convert a flat roof above his property into a roof garden and caused a leak by nailing things down incorrectly. Another attempted to fix a leak in his shower and almost flooded the floor below.

Clearly, DIY comes more naturally to some than others, but no matter how straightforward a project may seem, there can always be complications or reasons why people aren’t able to finish the work themselves.

It’s therefore a good idea to approach any work with careful planning. Get more than one quote for materials or tools so you’ll have a better understanding of what’s a fair price to pay, and have a contingency plan in case you need to inject some extra cash to get the project finished to your satisfaction. Although just over two thirds (67%) of people completed their projects while the rest were left unfinished, we found most respondents (85%) were satisfied with their DIY efforts. A small minority were less pleased and could pay an average of £552 to have the issues rectified, which highlights why it’s important to think about the potential, unexpected costs you may incur.

While these uncertain times continue, our career-builder warns that challenges sourcing materials have made waiting times longer and more unpredictable. If that’s the case for you, it’s worth noting that any contractor you bring in may not always be able to guarantee an end date for work.If a project does look set to go over budget, explore all your options before deciding how you will finance any overspend. If you don’t have savings to dip into, decisions around borrowing should never be rushed – research all the avenues thoroughly and shop around to make sure you’re getting the absolute best deal for you.


2 GEM Research & Insights survey of 1,500 homeowners who have undertaken DIY since the UK went into lockdown on 23 March 2020. Conducted between Tuesday 14th July and 16th July 2020.