Is Our Love Affair With DIY Finally Over?

We’re still in favour of fixing faults in the home ourselves, it’s just that Brits don’t have the skills or the time to do it to a high standard

When Homebase announced it was shutting one in four of its UK stores, its chief executive was said: “”British households were increasingly looking for third-party help with housing projects. This is a result of being short of time, as well as health and safety regulations insisting that certain work – such as electrical wiring – is only carried about by professionals.”

But with property prices rising 9.7% in the 12 months to October 2015, according to mortgage lender Halifax, to reach a record high average of £205,240, is DIY really dead? Not according to estate agents in London.

Before you click here to see how property prices in London are rising, consider whether we really have turned into a nation of consumers where our only concern is getting the job done even if it costs more?

While more people are calling in the professionals for jobs that require specific skills, such as rewiring a home or fitting gas appliances, it is worth noting that the number of UK users of social media platform Pinterest has doubled in the past year.

Of the 1.6 million items pinned from the UK, the topic of DIY was among the most popular. In fact, 52% of UK searches on Pinterest where to do with DIY.

And while amusing videos of cats and other cute animals still dominate the list of the most-watched items on YouTube, the channel’s comprehensive collection of DIY tutorials has a loyal audience.

However, a number of factors are having a significant impact on our ability to take on big jobs around the home.

Tenants are denied the opportunity to carry out DIY jobs. In 2014, it was reported that homeownership has slumped to its lowest level for 25 years. Just 1.4 million homeowners are aged between 25 and 34, while 96,000 are aged between 16 and 24 – the age groups when DIY skills are learned and perfected.

But the strict terms of many assured shorthold tenancy agreements issued by letting agents in Croydon and other areas of the UK means tenants are encouraged to contact the landlord or their agent when a rental property develops a fault.

There is no longer any incentive to develop the skills needed to keep a home in good working order – even if the resident owns the property.

Why? The number of insurance policies on offer means it’s often cheaper to call in the professionals rather than fix a fault yourself.

Take Jeremy (not his real name) as an example. The upstairs toilet in his home started playing up. Instead of the cistern refilling itself in a matter of minutes after each flush, it started to take hours for the water level to return to normal.

After a week, Jeremy took to YouTube and discovered the ballcoack was probably the cause of the fault. So he lifted the cistern cover, donned a pair of rubber gloves and gently prodded the plastic mechanism.

By holding down the ballcock, Jeremy got the cistern’s water level back up to its normal level. But the fault remained.

Fortunately, when Jeremy had paid for a new combi boiler to be installed earlier that year he’d been persuaded to take out a home emergency policy. And a faulty cistern certainly comes under the home emergency category.

After phoning the emergency helpline, a qualified plumber appeared at his door in under two hours and removed a dead leaf that had become lodged in the mechanism.

Job done and Jeremy’s toilet was returned to full working order without costing him any more than the insurance premium.

Briton’s haven’t fallen out of love with the concept of DIY. It’s just that we do not have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary to carry out work better than the professionals and the level of help on offer means it’s easier to GSI (get someone one) rather than DIY.

Perhaps that’s why Homebase ran a trial in 2014 when it ran a service that provided customers who do not have the time to carry out work in their own homes with professional tradespeople able to get the job done properly.