When it comes to home improvement, the UK is a nation of fearless have-a-go heroes. Even a global health crisis hasn’t dampened our passion for DIY. In fact, judging from reports from B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher, if anything the lockdown’s only sharpened our appetite.

Demand for DIY supplies has been skyrocketing in the last few months, with sales leaping up over 40% in May alone. Kingfisher has announced that it’s had to hire thousands more temporary workers to cover the rush in online sales, while the DIY digital marketplace ManoMano’s reporting a 250% increase in demand for power tools over the previous year. Meanwhile, Homebase has sold twice the timber it was expecting to and plaster and cement demand are through the roof. The plaster shortage is actually becoming a bit of a problem, with suppliers simply unable to get enough of the stuff out of the door to keep customers happy.

What are you building in there?

So, what’s actually behind all this extra DIY activity? Obviously, with millions of people on furlough, we’re all spending a lot more time around the house. All those little jobs UK households have been putting off for months, or even years, are now getting bumped to the top of our national to-do lists. A recent survey run by tradesperson finder site MyJobQuote came up with the following breakdown of the UK’s top 10 DIY plans right now:

  1. Building tables.
  2. Fixing or reupholstering household furniture.
  3. Redecorating a room.
  4. Replacing doors.
  5. Fixing cabinets.
  6. Replacing carpets or flooring.
  7. Changing blinds or curtains.
  8. Reapplying sealant around tiling.
  9. Hanging pictures.
  10. Changing light fixtures.

As you can see, there’s a broad range of home improvements taking up our time and money during the lockdown. Other little tweaks and upgrades happening all over the country include replacing cracked tiles, mending worn-out showers and fixing torn wallpaper. It’s costing us some pretty significant cash, too. All told, an average DIY job around the home can run you anywhere between £100 and £700. That’s assuming it all goes to plan, of course. Unfortunately, for a lot of us, things don’t always run so smoothly.

Finish what you started!

As it turns out, only about half of us ever finish the DIY jobs we start. With as many as 16 little jobs on the go at once in a typical British household, that’s a lot of expensive work left half-done. Worse still, we’re actually breaking almost as much stuff as we’re fixing up. Windows and fences are getting smashed, water pipes are bursting and nails are punching through electrical wiring everywhere we look.

An average, everyday DIY botch will tend to lump an extra £217 onto the cost of the job – but a staggering 1 in 4 of us are damaging our neighbours’ property as well, costing as much as £472 to put right. Put all that together and the costs start getting pretty scary. In a typical year, the average UK household runs up £1,500 or more on DIY jobs, including fixing the damage when it all goes wrong.

Even despite the risks and costs, the UK’s tradition of DIY is alive and well. Home improvement can be an expensive business, which is why it’s so frustrating that so any of us are leaving our cash in the taxman’s hands. An average tax refund claimed with RIFT would easily cover the cost of most DIY jobs – and it’s your money we’re talking about. Doesn’t it make more sense to use it for something real, rather than let it go to waste?

Use our free tax rebate calculator to see if you're owed money back by HMRC. If you are then with just a few basic details about you and your work, we’ll get the wheels turning on your tax refund claim. In the meantime, you can start planning the next DIY adventure you’ll be putting the cash toward.

RIFT is the UK's leading tax rebate and tax return experts. Check if you can claim tax back from HMRC using our tax refund calculator.  It will give you an instant estimate of how much you could be owed.