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‘DIY disasters’ can cost Brits up to £75,000, with the nation failing at plumbing, hanging doors and roof repairs most often

Selco DIY Disasters Survey

With hashtags like #homediyproject racking up hundreds of millions of views on TikTok and DIY hacks achieving billions of views on the platform, we conducted a study to find out how successful (or unsuccessful) the nation’s DIY efforts are – and we’ve been pretty surprised by the results.

We polled over 500 tradespeople to find out how much of their day is spent fixing botched DIY jobs, as well as the home repairs or DIY projects they are most often contracted to repair.

We also looked at the costs to the public of attempting a home repair themselves before calling a professional.

We discovered that up to a third of tradespeople call outs are to repair failed DIY attempts – with DIY devotees running up thousands of pounds in invoices to correct their disastrous attempts at home renovations.

The most common DIY disasters

Half of the tradespeople surveyed (50.4%) said that jobs involving fixing these ‘DIY disasters’ made up between 10% to 30% of their call outs.

But some tradespeople are fixing botched DIY jobs more often than that. More than one in 10 (11%) said that up to two in five of their call outs are to fix failed attempts at home improvement jobs by their customers.

Poorly fitted taps are the most common DIY job tradespeople are being called out to fix, with 43% having been called out for this before. Closely following are DIY attempts at pipework (41%) and fitting new doors (34%).

Many Brits are seemingly more adventurous with their DIY though, with full kitchen installations (33%), tiling (32.6%) and flooring (32%) also appearing in the top 10 ‘DIY disasters’ tradespeople are being called upon to repair.

Top 10 ‘DIY disasters’ that tradespeople have been called out to fix at least once:

  1. Tap installation or repair (43%)
  2. Pipework (41%)
  3. Door fitting / hanging (34%)
  4. Leaky roof repair (33.3%)
  5. Kitchen installation (33.1%)
  6. Tiling (32.6%)
  7. Leaky radiators repair (32.4%)
  8. Flooring (32%)
  9. Lights fittings (31.6%)
  10. Sockets or switches installation (31%)

Plumbing is the area Brits are most comfortable attempting themselves before resorting to professional help, with three of the top 10 DIY disasters being plumbing works.

The worst DIY disasters tradespeople have been called out to fix

From our survey, some of the worst DIY Disasters tradespeople revealed they’ve had to fix include:

  • Electric socket installations that caused a house fire
  • Plumbing work for which joints were sealed with tape
  • Brick walls built using neat cement as mortar
  • A load bearing wall removed to create an open plan space
  • Doors hung upside down
  • Badly fitted kitchens with cupboards falling off the walls
  • Fire exit doors that couldn’t be opened
  • Kitchen cupboards hanging at an angle

The additional cost of fixing a bad DIY job

According to our insight from tradespeople, we learned that botched DIY jobs could be costing British households thousands of pounds.

The majority (53%) of tradespeople surveyed said that repairing the average DIY fail takes three and a half hours. But almost one in five (19%) estimate these jobs to take a day, and 11% said they allow up to two days.

Of course, the scale of the issue and the specialty of each tradesperson influences the final cost, but with the average hourly rate being between £20 and £30 for the majority of the tradespeople surveyed, even a minor DIY project gone wrong could cost Brits about £90 (£87.50) to get fixed, excluding the additional costs for materials.

The most expensive DIY projects

While many UK adults may hope their DIY-ventures could save them some cash, the research also investigated how much materials for popular DIY projects could cost Brits looking to tackle home renovations or repairs themselves.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, full kitchen and bathroom installations cost DIY-ers the most money, up to £583 and £762 respectively excluding any furniture, worktops or appliances.

Following closely are door fittings, which could set Brits back about £498, and wall installations (£488 just for materials).

The top five most expensive DIY projects:

  1. Bathroom installation (around £760)
  2. Kitchen installation (around £580)
  3. Door fitting (around £450)
  4. Wall installation (around £490)
  5. Flooring (around £407)

Despite the high repair cost and difficulty of these jobs, many Brits are still attempting to carry out these works themselves according to the tradespeople we surveyed. Unfortunately, the success rate doesn’t seem to be too high.

Almost a third (29%) of tradespeople said they’ve been called out to fix a bathroom installation gone wrong – 33% have been called out to rectify a poor attempt at fitting a kitchen, and 34% have been called out to correct a badly fitted door.

The DIY projects Brits can afford to try themselves (but really shouldn’t)

Some DIY projects are a little cheaper – and therefore it’s perhaps more understandable as to why a homeowner might attempt the work themselves. These include putting in / up a new light (around £40), fitting plugs or sockets (£74) and fitting a tap (£95).

Top three cheapest DIY projects:

  1. Fitting a light (£44)
  2. Fitting plugs or sockets (£74)
  3. Fitting a tap (£95)

Despite the smaller scale of these projects, these are still DIY jobs that tradespeople find themselves commonly called on to complete professionally. Of course, working with plumbing and electrics is often more complicated than people give credit for.

Almost a third of tradespeople have been called out to rectify a poorly or incorrectly fitted light (32%) or an incorrectly fitted plug socket (32%), while more than four in 10 tradespeople (43%) surveyed had been called out to correct a wrongly fitted tap.

Considerations for anyone planning a bit of DIY

We know DIY is commonplace, but it’s not easy! And for those that don’t have the right skills, it could even be dangerous. In fact, recent reports have shown DIY attempts have often been the cause of injuries or need of hospital care in the past year.

Recent analysis of NHS Digital data showed more than 5,600 people needed hospital care after using or coming into contact with a powered hand tool last year, while this was the case for 2,700 who had an accident with a non-powered hand tool like a saw or a hammer.

But heavy tools don’t necessarily need to be involved. Electrical work can be particularly dangerous, and as such it should generally be executed by a professional, as even small mistakes could have serious consequences like electric shocks and house fires. Additionally, anything to do with gas boilers or systems should always be carried out by a Gas Safe engineer, as it comes with risks of gas leaks which should certainly not be underestimated.

Furthermore, attempting complicated projects such as full bathroom installations or wall removals can create additional issues to the structure of the home or the wider systems, or come with ‘hidden’ complications.

For example, you may need to obtain planning permission before you do knock down a wall, and you could compromise the entire structure of your home if you don’t know what you’re doing.

You may also need to investigate if you run into any plumbing pipes, for which you will most likely have to call a professional as you will need to reroute them (and this is definitely something you shouldn’t try doing yourself!). Additionally, it’s not easy to correctly evaluate the cost of materials for the average DIY-er, and choosing the wrong materials can cause issues further down the line. For example, cheaper materials may seem a great solution to save some cash initially, but could prove more expensive as time goes by, as wear and tear will show quickly.

And while our survey has shown many are trying to tackle plumbing themselves, this is definitely not as easy as it seems. When looking at complicated project such as bathroom installations, for example, there’s a lot that could go wrong. In fact, poorly done bathtub or shower installation can cause leaks or flooding, or even drainage problems and corrosion.

For these reasons, smaller DIY projects can be quite easy and even satisfying to complete, but for the more complicated stuff, it’s best to just leave it to the professionals to avoid damage or even injuries.

Our study

  • We surveyed 507 tradespeople from our customer base
  • We sourced data on cost of basic materials for DIY home improvements or installations from: diy.com (correct as of 10/8/22)
  • DIY injuries report
  • We sourced data on TikTok hashtag trends sourced on 19/8/22


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