Research suggests DIY can be a false economy for UK home owners

Home owners undertaking DIY to improve their home may find it is a false economy with research suggesting that it is likely to be botched and end up costing the owner more.

Some 72% of home owners in the UK take on a DIY job to save money but more than a quarter, 27%, admitted they have botched the work and 34% left it unfinished, according to research from Halifax Home Insurance.

The study also found that among those jobs they were willing to do themselves, some 77% would be confident to tackle painting, 75% gardening, just under half would attempt to put up shelves and just under 40% would put up wallpaper.

The research shows a continuing decline in home improvement skills for young home owners. Only 62% of 18 to 24 year olds said they felt confident changing a lightbulb compared to 93% of over 55s. This was also true when it came to tiling, with 32% of over 55s feeling confident compared to only 13% of 18 to 24s.

The North East of England topped the tables for confidence in DIY tasks with 82% confident about painting, 51% wallpapering and 55% putting up shelves while Yorkshire and Humberside were the most green fingered with 86% feeling confident at gardening.

‘Most people will take on DIY jobs at some point, so it’s important they make sure they are adequately prepared beforehand. They should check they have the right tools for the job, consider taking out accidental damage cover in case things go wrong, and avoid taking on too much. It’s essential to call in the qualified experts when it comes to jobs such as gas, electrics and plumbing, as home owners can risk invalidating their home insurance policy if things go awry,’ said Martyn Foulds, senior claims manager at Halifax Home Insurance.

Last year alone, Halifax Home Insurance recorded over 16,000 accidental damage claims, including DIY related incidents. In total the insurer paid out more than £11 million for accidental damage, costing an average of almost £700 per claim.

Meanwhile, a separate piece of research has found that first time buyers are paying a hefty price for snapping up cheaper properties that need renovating and undertaking the work themselves.

According to specialist insurance broker Towergate over a fifth of first time buyers who are eager to get on the property ladder are turning to lower priced properties that need doing up and cutting costs by carrying out the work themselves, spending £4,600 in the process.

However on top of the initial cost of the work, some 27% of new home owners have had to fork out extra cash for a professional contractor to fix their mistakes, costing an average £2,358.
And separate research among members of electrical contracting industry body NICEIC has shown a summer spike in callouts to fix DIY mistakes, with 17% of contractors reporting an increase in requests during this time of year.
‘Given the cost to get on the housing ladder, it’s not surprising first time buyers are looking for cheaper properties which require work. It also means they are looking to save costs on employing contractors choosing to do it themselves or use family and friends,’ said Annie Plaskett, Towergate spokesperson.

‘However, as our research shows, undertaking ambitious projects with little to no formal training can leave new homeowners seriously out of pocket. To make matters worse, often accidents and mistakes aren’t covered by standard home insurance policies, making it more important to speak with your insurer before putting hammer to nail,’ she added.

Home owners tempted to undergo some DIY should seek professional advice, according to
Tony Cable, NICEIC spokesperson. ‘Most DIY jobs are not as simple as they may seem and mistakes with electrical wiring, for example, could be fatal,’ he said.

‘Not using properly qualified trades people is not only dangerous, it’s a false economy and could end up costing the home owner thousands of pounds and a lot of hassle to put right,’ he added.