Top tips to make sure your home improvement goes off without a hitch


Author: Siobhan Murphy
Siobhan Painting

From the small jobs to the big projects, UK homeowners are getting stuck into DIY jobs in their homes – from painting our ceilings, walls and doors, to retiling our bathrooms.

But despite our best intentions, sometimes our home improvements don’t always go to plan. Shawbrook recently polled 2,000 UK homeowners which found that nearly half (47%) of homeowners have experienced a home improvement going wrong.

With an abundance of inspiration and how-to videos online, including step by step guides, sometimes a DIY job can appear easy to tackle at first. But it’s important to know where your DIY limits lie and seek professional help when necessary – otherwise you could end up paying the price further down the line.

To avoid any DIY mishaps on your next home improvement project, these are my  ultimate top tips to try and make sure your next home improvement is disaster-free.


  1. Start small

    It might sound obvious, but slow and steady wins the race. Start with smaller DIY projects and build up slowly over time to help with your confidence ahead of tackling bigger projects. It’s nearly impossible to jump into a large home improvement project without any previous experience of DIY – so be realistic with your capabilities.

    Building small flat-pack furniture items, painting doors and window frames and fixing little cracks and draughts around your home are good places to start to build your skills before planning bigger projects, like installing built-in furniture, knocking down walls and remodelling kitchens!

    Remember too that sometimes the most effective DIY jobs are often the smallest – whether it’s finally putting up a series of picture frames for a gallery feature wall, adding a series of shelves as a storage unit or adding soft furnishings to a room– it’s important not to dismiss any small jobs that need sorting around the house.

  2. Have a vision

    If you want to undertake a larger home improvement – such as a full room renovation or kitchen or bathroom projects – you need to have a clear vision of what the final product will look like.

    From a practical perspective, this helps keep you in line with your budget and timeframes. But from a creative perspective, the product will be much more finessed.

    At the very least, start by using Pinterest and Instagram for initial inspo and use these as your own digital mood boards. Think about the colours you’re drawn to and the patterns that catch your eye. For me, walls are always my starting point – whether I’m going for a maximalist print, or a muted shade of colour, I always start with the colour palette first. I use the walls as a base and build furniture, lighting and anything else around them.

    But beyond the look and feel, you need to think about how the space will function and whether your ideas are suitable. Knowing exactly what the purpose of the project you’re trying to achieve could alter your plans. For example, if you are turning a spare room into an office space, while it needs to be a place where you feel inspired, it is also going to need the right lighting and configuration for plugs and sockets, which might change how you design the room.

  3. TIY - Teach it yourself


    Now more than ever, there’s a world of online DIY content – from TikTok hacks to Instagram reels to YouTube tutorials – we have a wealth of information at our fingertips.

    Shawbrook’s research shows that Instagram is the most popular app to find home improvement inspiration, with two thirds (68%) admitting to using it, while more than half (54%) use YouTube.

    If you’re a DIY beginner, using sites like these can be a great place to start. Videos are often informative and break down the task at hand into simple steps so you can reach your end result – whether it be tips on painting in smaller rooms with less natural light or plastering a bedroom wall. A visual representation of what you’re trying to create really helps you complete each step.

  4. Tools at the ready!


    If you are taking on DIY jobs around the house it’s important to do your research. Many people go into home improvement projects without having thought through what they might need to complete the job. But, there is a really easy solution: hiring tools!

    Buying the right tools can be very expensive - particularly if it’s for a one-off job, and hiring them could make your home improvement project more cost effective. There are lots of places to hire tools from, including various homeware stores. You could also consider borrowing from a neighbour or friend.

    You can get anything from landscaping equipment to cement mixers to help you get the job done. Remember to do your research or ask the experts who will be able to help you identify which tools are right for the job you’re undertaking so you don’t waste your time – a win-win.

  5. Know your limits


    While completing a home improvement can be fun and rewarding, there will be some parts of the job that prove too complicated for even the best DIY masters.

    We all know that doing a home improvement yourself could significantly reduce costs, but sometimes, it could be better to have some help from professional – particularly if you have concerns the project won’t be finished correctly, or you may end up injuring yourself.

    Shawbrook’s research showed the biggest barriers to finishing home improvements include not having the right skills (22%). And with an average of five unfinished DIY jobs in each home, it’s no wonder many of us are turning to the professionals.

    So rather than starting something you can’t finish, be realistic with your capabilities and take the pressure off from the outset. Thinking ahead to where your limits might lie is important to see a project through to completion.

    Make sure you shop around for the best quote and get the expertise you need to get the project done right. Professionals tend to book up in advance, which may impact your timings, so plan ahead and book in early. You might be grateful in the short, medium and long term!


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Shawbrook conducted research with market research company OnePoll to survey 2,000 homeowners in the UK to understand sentiment towards DI-Y home improvements. Research was conducted from 12 May – 16 May 2022.

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