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DIY is a labour of love, say Britons

Britain's homeowners view DIY as a labour of love according to latest research from the Woolwich. The survey, conducted by Audience Selection, shows that although saving money remains, for 50 per cent of people, the single most important reason for doing it yourself, nearly as many (48 per cent) actively enjoy improving their homes themselves.

A substantial minority felt that they could outperform the professionals into the bargain. Men were the most confident of their DIY skills: one in five claimed that they could do it better than any professional. Women were more cautious, or perhaps more realistic, with only 17% believing they could do better than the outside experts.

Southerners were the most reluctant DIYers - only 39% claimed to enjoy the experience. It was residents of the east Midlands who were the keenest (63% citing enjoyment as a motivation). More residents of Wales mentioned partner pressure as a factor: one in five said they had no option but DIY as their partners insisted on it.

DIY Expenditure set to fall

Despite the enthusiasm, householders in England, Scotland and Wales expect to be spending less on DIY in the next year.

Respondents spent an average of just under £425 on DIY in the last 12 months, but planned expenditure is set to average at £370 over the next 12 months, with 22% of householders claiming they would spend nothing on DIY. But there remains a solid core of higher spenders - one in five spent over £1,000 on DIY last year, and 16% plan to do so over the year ahead. The heaviest spenders last year were in the 35-44 age group - nearly a third passed the £1,000 barrier and a quarter plan to do so over the next 12 months.

Richard Deprose, Director of Ekins Surveyors, the Woolwich's surveying company commented: “The apparent dip in expenditure may be misleading. Our experience shows that people often undertake DIY because something goes wrong unexpectedly, and rather than patching up an existing kitchen, for example, full replacement is the solution. Real expenditure is therefore likely to exceed these estimates, making budgeting for DIY difficult”.

Despite predictions of a downward trend, DIY stores in the east Midlands look set for an upsurge in business - over a quarter of all householders there plan to spend more than £1,000 next year, closely followed by residents of Wales (23%) and London (22%). Those who intend their wallets and purses firmly closed to DIY are most likely to live in the north east and the south east, where 26% of householders are in the "do nothing" category.

Kitchen

One person in ten dislikes their kitchen, despite the fact that we spend about £900m a year on them. You can expect to pay between £6,000 and £15,000 for a new kitchen today, with subdued lighting and unbroken work surfaces, rather than strip lighting and tiled tops, among the features in favour. Fairly plain, streamlined appearances are fashionable, with lava stone and granite among the popular surfaces. The beech, stainless steel, pewter and slate looks are also among the big sellers.

Our experts say:
Pick the best kitchen you can afford, while keeping your outlay in proportion to your home's value - installing something out of Homes and Gardens in a standard semi or terrace is a waste of money. Good kitchens are important selling points - like bathrooms, they're particularly appealing to female house hunters.

VALUE FACTOR = 7/10

Home Security

There's more than one burglary a minute and four out of five homes lack adequate security. We spend more than £430m tackling these problems each year, encouraged by insurance companies which offer cut-price contents cover for better protected properties or won't insure your valuables at all unless you have enough safeguards. Over £200m for that spending went on burglar alarms and more than £100m on locks. But despite shelling-out on items such as security lights and strong doors, one in five burglaries happen because a door or window was left open.

Our experts say:
Whether spending on home security adds value depends very much on where the property is. But even where it makes little or no price difference, it does increase your peace of mind and may help reduce your contents insurance premium.

VALUE FACTOR = 5/10

Bathroom

We spend more than £900m in the UK on bathrooms. About 95 per cent of bathroom furnishings sold in the UK are in various shades of white. Novel features such as corner baths, sunken baths and whirlpools are still popular.

Our experts say:
If you have a large family, think about installing a second bathroom, provided the money and space are available. To make a small bathroom appear bigger, use mirror tiles and light colours.

VALUE FACTOR = 7/10

In the Garden

We spend more than £2.5bn on garden products each year, with garden centres raking in around £1bn and plant sales generating over £850m. Buyers go for neat, well maintained gardens, which they can change easily when they move in, rather than those which are over-elaborate or landscaped. Taking the plunge and installing a swimming pool, for example, outside an average house may detract from the home's value. If your garden's particularly picturesque, try to wait until it's in full bloom before putting your home on the market.

Our experts say:
When buying a property, remember you could have a problem with moisture if the garden drains towards the house or its level rises above that of the damp and proof course. And don 't be led up the garden path by those who say security measures don 't matter - there are burglars around who'll pinch garden furniture and even plants. Floodlighting can be an effective deterrent and often looks good - but make sure it won't annoy the neighbours.

VALUE FACTOR = 4/10

True DIY Confessions

One in six claims received by Woolwich Insurance Service relate to DIY hiccups.
The top ten most common claims are:

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