All the gear – no idea: younger generation kitted out with DIY tools but not the skills

22 August 2017

  • Nationwide research shows lightbulbs, clocks and even TV tuning present a challenge
  • Spilling paint and spending too much money are described as the biggest DIY disasters
  • Half already have the right equipment with average DIY spend at just under £200

With August Bank Holiday being one of the peak DIY points of the year, Brits are still ready and willing to give their homes a makeover. However, the ability to complete the job is being lost as the enthusiasm from younger DIYers is not necessarily matched by their aptitude, according to research by Nationwide Current Accounts.

Overall, more than two thirds of those taking part in the research (71%) said they would take on non-building DIY jobs including painting and decorating. Of those surveyed, half (52%) said they were kitted out with plenty of equipment, including drills, hammers and ladders, to take on most DIY scenarios.

The average spend on DIY products was £192, perhaps due to many choosing to invest in the right equipment as well as paint and brushes, with almost half (47%) said they had tackled a DIY task in the last three months.

When asked what was their biggest DIY disaster, one in five (22%) said spilling paint on the carpet or furniture. This was just ahead of spending far more money on the project than had been planned (21%), with drilling through a water pipe and causing a flood an issue for one in seven (15%) in third place.

Smartphone savvy becoming Don’t Do It Yourself in practice

According to Nationwide’s research, it’s the younger generation who are apparently most confident that they can take on all manner of DIY jobs. One in five 18-24 year olds say that they are fully proficient in DIY and can tackle any job, no matter how large or complex. This compares with less than one in ten (8%) of those aged 55 or older.

However, there are clear signs of a growing generational skills gap when it comes to their actual DIY abilities. In the youngest age range, 18-24, only two thirds (63%) say they are capable of changing a light bulb, less than half (45%) can change the time on household clocks, while only a third can change a fuse or bleed a radiator. In addition, a mere 17 per cent can locate and turn off a stop cock and only 15 per cent can rewire a plug. Even with the jobs they might be thought to favour, only half (49%) can tune a TV and less than one in five (19%) say they can install home entertainment equipment.

This compares with an older generation apparently much more used to doing it themselves, with the over 55s saying nine in ten (89%) were ready to change a lightbulb, four in five able to change the clocks (77%) and change a fuse (81%), and more than two thirds ready to bleed radiators (71%), find and turn off a stop cock (74%) and rewire a plug (69%). Nearly four in five (77%) will tune a television and a third (30%) can install a home entertainment system.

Perhaps reflecting that some of the household jobs previous generations might have performed are becoming obsolete, across the board only 12 per cent said they could reupholster a chair, less than a quarter would hang a door (24%) and only 35 per cent could change a tap washer.

Bridging the gap

In signs of something of a gender divide, 44 per cent of men were ready to give the bigger DIY jobs a go (versus 33% of women), while 40 per cent of women said they would happily stick to basic painting and decorating (versus 26% of men), although the same proportion, six per cent, said they always prefer to call in the professionals. However, an equal proportion, just over half (52%), said they had the right equipment to get on with the job themselves.

There are also notable regional differences. Those surveyed in London rated themselves as the most proficient when it came to the big DIY jobs, with 23 per cent saying they’d take on anything, compared to only 6 per cent of those in Northern Ireland. However, Londoners were least likely to change a lightbulb (70%), compared to 88 per cent in Scotland and 87 per cent in Yorkshire, least able to change the time on the clocks (54%), compared to 80 per cent in Wales and Scotland, and least keen on putting together flatpack furniture (48%) compared to Scotland (70%) and the South West (67%).

Guy Simmonds, Nationwide’s Head of Current Account Customer Management, said: “With the Bank Holiday approaching, this is a peak time of the year for people to spend money on their homes. This could be either tackling an ambitious, large-scale project to add value to their homes, or small cosmetic changes, maintenance jobs and updating.

“Our data suggests that people aspire to make improvements but may not have all the skills they need to make a positive difference and, in fact, botching the job or making mistakes that may lead to much higher extra costs and extra spending later to put it right. It’s significant that many would-be DIY enthusiasts end up regretting both the amount of money spent and the accidents that can prove costly along the way. However, people also feel it is important to regularly refresh the appearance of their homes or tackle larger jobs to reflect their changing needs.”

The most highly rated dream home improvement is a large open plan kitchen diner (23%), judged more desirable that a conservatory with bi-fold doors (17%) and a separate man/girl cave outside (14%).

When it comes to rating the worst home décor trends, polystyrene ceilings and swirly textured walls was rated as the worst by more than a quarter (27%), with avocado bathroom suites (23%) and woodchip wallpaper (21%) close behind.


Notes to Editors

The research was conducted for Nationwide Building Society online between 25th May 2017 and 26th May 2017 by Vital Research, with a sample of 2,024 UK adults.

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