The biggest barriers to finishing a home improvement – and how to overcome them

Couple Looking At Plans For Construction

With summer around the corner, it’s an ideal time to start dusting down your overalls and picking up your tool box once again.

As a nation of DIYers, many of us challenge ourselves with new home improvement projects – whether it be painting a feature wall, installing new light fittings or even landscaping the garden.

But according to our latest research, we’re not always the best at seeing the jobs through to the end. We recently polled 2,000 UK homeowners and more than half (56%) said that their home is a current ‘work in progress’, with 1 in 10 (11%) admitting to having between seven - nine jobs left unfinished.

What’s more, nearly half (48%) agree that their homes will never be complete when it comes to home improvements, with the most commonly unfinished jobs including painting walls, changing carpets and renovating a bedroom.

Even with the best intentions, sometimes there are obstacles that stop us from getting the job done whether that’s a lack of time, money or having the right skills.

To help you plan for your next project, we reveal the biggest barriers to completing DIY projects around the home according to our research – alongside some tips to overcoming them.


  1. Not having the professional skills required

    More than one in five (22%) admit that the biggest barrier they come up against during home improvement projects is not having the right professional skills.

    With an abundance of online content, it’s easy to be inspired by the end result and believe it’s something we can undertake with minimal DIY skills or experience.

    However, it goes without saying that it’s essential to do your research into the improvement you want to undertake, and make sure you fully understand what it entails to ensure you are capable of seeing the project through from start to finish.

    While it might seem easier to learn tricks of the trade on YouTube or TikTok, for more ambitious projects, sometimes it’s safest to talk to a professional. In fact, according to our research, a quarter (25%) of those who have experienced a DIY mishap were forced to call in a professional to rectify it!

  2. Not having enough time

    The second most common barrier includes not having enough time, with a fifth (20%) of homeowners admitting to not seeing their home improvements through for this reason.

    We probably feel like there’s never enough time to finish all of our dream improvements. DIY projects can be very time consuming so, before you start, it’s important to have a realistic plan in place with accurate timings and costs. Sometimes with larger home improvements, we run into unforeseen problems which can set back timescales.

    Make sure you plan ahead and plot in extra time to complete the job. Give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush to avoid making a mistake. With more than a third (35%) of UK homeowners admitting to dreading coming home to see the half-done jobs around their house, it’s definitely worth finishing the job when you can.

  3. Not factoring in the cost of getting a professional in

    A fifth (19%) cited that not having the additional money to hire a professional was the biggest barrier to finishing their home improvements.

    Although hiring a professional to do the job can be costly, for certain jobs it might be necessary and it and could help you keep on track with timings. When considering hiring a professional, make sure you shop around for the right quote and double check reviews.

    However, if it isn’t an option for you, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Nearly a quarter (24%) of homeowners say their DIY mishaps have been resolved with the helping hand of their friends and family.

    It’s important to take time to consider your budget and the finance options available to you. Professionals come at a cost so it’s important to find an option that works for you and your project. You can find out more in our ultimate guide to financing your next home improvement here.

  4. Not budgeting properly

    It’s no secret that home renovations can often be expensive, particularly if they’re larger scale improvements. One in six (18%) homeowners said the biggest barrier they encountered during their home improvement project was running out of money.

    Without a comprehensive plan and a realistic budget, it’s easy for money to become a huge barrier. Setting a realistic budget is key as you’ll need to know how much money you can dedicated to the project. 38% of our survey respondents admitted they potentially set themselves up to fail as a bigger budget was always going to be needed.

    With careful planning, you can be smarter with your spending and make try to make it go further. There are plenty of tips and tricks online to help you, and our blog on budgeting for your dream home improvement could be a good place to start.

    As part of putting together your budget, you also need to work out where the funds will come from. There are plenty of options available from savings to using credit such as a credit card or personal loan. Make sure you do your research to find an option that will work best for you.

    We offer savings accounts and personal loans for home improvements - with flexible terms available so you can spread the cost for up to seven years. All loans are subject to status. T&Cs apply.

  5. More important jobs taking priority


    It seems that we’re a nation that can get easily distracted when it comes to DIY. Not only does the average homeowner have five DIY jobs currently underway around the home, but nearly one in five (20%) said the biggest barrier to not finishing jobs is they simply don’t have enough time.

    Rather than jumping into any projects headfirst, weigh up everything that needs to be done around your home and pull together a clear list of priorities.

    To try and stay on track with the job at hand, put together your timeline and make sure it’s realistic. First, choose a desired start date, or if you’re hoping to have it completed by a specific date, work backward from that date instead.

    By making a clear list of jobs you can work out where is a good place to start and when is best for your available time and budget. You might want to categorise by room, difficulty or importance. Your time and budget is precious so you want to make sure you’re using it wisely.

    That way, you’re more likely to finish what you started, and can see one job through to the end before switching focus to the next.

    Good luck!


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.

Other articles you may be interested in...

Check out our other articles to help with your next home improvement project