Don’t try this at home: repair bills to fix botched jobs sets DIYers back over £446m

Wednesday 3rd April 2024

  • New research from Novuna Personal Finance reveals over half of Brits shy away from undertaking home improvements lacking the skills or funds for the job
  • Two thirds (66%) of homeowners admit they’re not handy enough to carry out even relatively simple home alterations
  • Half (50%) of Gen-Zers shun flat pack furniture projects as a crisis of confidence grips younger homeowners

Costly DIY mistakes are burning a hole in homeowners’ pockets to the tune of an eye watering £446m, according to new research by Novuna Personal Finance.

The study, which polled over 2,000 UK homeowners aged 23 to 50, sheds light on the DIY highs and lows for homeowners across the UK. Over half of all respondents admit they are hindered by a lack of skills (55%) or the cash required (51%) to complete home improvements which stops them from making the changes they want to their homes.

The Novuna research, highlighting the scale of DIY dread amongst homeowners, reveals two thirds (66%) of Brits consider themselves not handy enough in the home to undertake a DIY project themselves without outside help.

Whilst flat pack furniture assembly (83%) is the DIY project Brits will most readily take on themselves along with painting and decorating (82%) and fixtures and fittings (73%), the next generation of homeowners are more readily turning their back on even these straightforward home improvements.

According to Novuna’s new study, DIY dread and a crisis in confidence is felt most strikingly amongst Gen Z homeowners with over two-thirds (68%) of 23-25 year olds turning to a trade professional for even the most basic DIY projects.

Indeed, when it comes to assembling flat pack furniture, only half (50%) of Gen-Zers entertain the idea of doing it themselves, with 23-25 year-olds also more averse to get handy with paintbrushes (65%) and hammers (59%) than their older counterparts.

As a result of the reluctance felt by homeowners to roll up their sleeves and take on home improvements themselves, the projects most readily being shelved include upgrades to the kitchen (51%), bathroom (50%) and bedroom (42%).

And when it comes to reliable sources of DIY advice, Brits are most likely to turn to YouTube first (64%) over parents (58%) or friends (53%), with online influencers becoming an emerging source of advice for Gen Zers (21%).

Despite the widespread hesitancy of homeowners to carry out DIY home improvements, over a quarter of Brits who are prepared to roll up their sleeves rather than hiring a professional, claim they have saved between £1,000 and £5,000 by taking on projects themselves. Regionally, the South are the biggest savers, with 10% saving a massive £10,000 by DIYing.

Reluctance to take on DIY projects often stems from previous home improvement howlers. However, despite these costly errors, the majority of homeowners are willing to learn from their mistakes. The research found that 69% of Brits would attempt DIY projects in the future, with 42% stating that they would fix the mistake immediately themselves.

Novuna’s research estimates that botched DIY jobs cost UK homeowners around £446m to put right, with a third of the nation forking out up to £200 a time to repair DIY disasters. However, Gen-Z are amongst the worst offenders, with 29% spending between £200 and £600 to repair their DIY debacles.

When considering regional differences across the UK, the crisis in confidence amongst DIYers is most pronounced in the North-East (80%), Northern Ireland (75%) and South-East (73%) whereas less than half of Londoners (48%) lack the self-belief to take on a home improvement project.

Regions lacking the most DIY confidence  



Northern Ireland






East of England / Yorkshire and the Humber


West Midlands


East Midlands










Top tips from Kate Faulkner about improving your home with DIY

#Tip 1: Write down everything you would like to improve
This is the first job to do. Even if you can’t afford or don’t have the time to do everything now, it might be more cost effective to get certain jobs done together, especially if they involve professional trades such as gas and electric work. This sort of work often needs to precede more cosmetic improvements like carpeting or flooring to avoid any costly accidents.

#Tip 2: Estimate the costs of jobs you would like to do
This isn’t always easy to do, but information online can advise whether a job costs hundreds of pounds, thousands, or tens of thousands. Choose whether you want to do a budget, standard or premium upgrade. If you do things on a budget you might be able to get everything done, whereas if you choose premium, it make take a few years or a loan to help you carry out your home improvements. Always have a contingency of 10% for small jobs and 20% for larger jobs. Shop around to get a variety of quotes and estimates, and include a range of large chains, local and independent contractors so you can compare costs.

#Tip 3: Learn what you can do yourself and where you need an expert
Certain home improvement work requires somebody with the competence or qualifications to carry out the work. For example, electrical and gas work. Understand what work you can do yourself and what will need to be signed off by a competent professional. If you employ someone externally, always check they have the right insurance in place should anything go wrong, and ask for a guarantee for the job.

#Tip 4: How ever long you think – or are told – the work will take, double it!
In the UK we have some of the oldest property stock. This means it may have been upgraded several times, especially when it comes to electrics and plumbing. The work required might turn out to be quite simple or very complicated. As a result, a small job can turn into a much bigger one when it comes to improving your home, and you may uncover other jobs that need doing along the way. Don’t forget you might need planning permission and/or sign of from the Building Inspector for certain jobs.

#Tip 5: Find out if the renovations have increased the value of your home
Once the work is finished check with a local agent or qualified surveyor if the improvements have added value to your home, especially if you are looking to sell, remortgage or seek equity release.

To read more advice from Property Expert, Kate Faulkner, about how you can add value to your home through DIY, please click here.

Theresa Lindsay, Director of Marketing, Novuna Personal Finance, said: “Decorating and improving the entrance to your home are right up there with a new bathroom and kitchen redesign on homeowners’ wish lists. But they’re also the ones most likely to be shelved due to lack of confidence or in some cases lack of cash.

“With more retailers offering flexible finance, big ticket projects are looking more affordable, which should encourage budding DIY enthusiasts to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in. Hopefully going online for guidance and inspiration, to avoid costly mistakes.”

Kate Faulkner, Property Expert, added: “DIY can be done extremely well if you research ‘how to’ topics from trusted sources – this can help you to save thousands of pounds over the years you own a home, as well as adding significant value to your home.

“Undertaking bigger projects, like replacing a kitchen or bathroom, could add up to 10% depending on the location of your property. But this can depend on location and other factors, so it’s essential to do your research, have the right tools and materials, and know when to get the experts involved. Always make sure you know what work requires sign off certificates before starting work, and secure warranties if carried out by a third party, especially if you are likely to sell your property in the future.”

To read more about our home improvement hints and tips, please click here.


The findings are the result of a YouGov omnibus research study conducted from 15 February to 16 February 2024. During this time, 2,040 UK homeowners aged 23 to 50 were surveyed.

*Respondents were invited to provide an estimated figure of the financial cost (£GBP) that they would expect to spend fixing a mistake made whilst renovating. The £446m figure was calculated by taking the most popular cost bracket (32% spending up to £200 in repairs), scaling this by UK homeowners aged 23 to 50 according to research by ONS and Statista, to determine the cost accumulated by around one third of UK homeowners.

Full calculations can be made available on request.