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UK householders rack up annual bill on almost 7 billion for DIY disasters

With many UK householders tackling jobs around the home, Aviva is urging people to proceed with caution. New research from the insurer reveals that UK people typically spend £13.5 billion* a year – £488 per household – fixing things that have gone wrong around the home.

But 29% of householders also admit they have had to pay for a professional to put things right when a DIY task has gone wrong. In fact, one in eight households (12%) say they have done this on several occasions.

The average amount paid out in the event of such DIY disasters is £836 – equating to almost £7 billion** across affected UK households. More than one in 10 households (11%) say they have managed to run up a bill of more than £2,000 in order to put things right.

The top five bodged DIY jobs which required professional help were revealed as:
1. Fixing a broken boiler.
2. Unblocking a sink.
3. Fixing electrical wiring.
4. Unblocking a drain.
5. Unblocking a toilet.

Sarah Applegate, Head of GI Global Strategy and Insights says for Aviva says: “In recent months, people may have been tempted to turn their attention to ‘doing up’ and tackling those niggly odd jobs around the house. However, our research shows even simple tasks can go wrong. In fact almost a third of householders have ended up paying for a professional to put things right when a DIY job hasn’t worked out.

“Home maintenance is very important and we’d always encourage people to look after their properties. But we’d also advise people to work within their limits and not attempt tasks which could be better left to professionals – particularly if they involve electricity, gas or plumbing. Unless people are tackling a simple task, it may be better to call in an expert!”

Tips to avoid DIY disasters: DIY disasters


  • If the job requires expert knowledge, leave it to an expert. A bodged plumbing task could be messy at best, while jobs which involve gas or electricity may be dangerous – so don’t take chances.


  • Turn it off. If you’ve got the skills to tackle a job involving water, electricity or gas, don’t forget to turn it off before you begin.
  • Use a pipe and wire detector to check for wires and pipes before you drill or hammer. 
  • Keep your carpet covered. And your sofa, and your TV… Countless Aviva claims come from people who have spilled paint while decorating, so be sure to put down decorating sheets – and be careful when you are clearing up.
  • Avoid mess while you work. Tools and toolboxes become dangerous obstacles if they are scattered around, so keep your workspace tidy to avoid trips and slips. 
  • Never work with children and animals. Try to keep little ones and four-legged friends out of the work-zone.
  • Tools and tech don’t mix. A number of Aviva customers report dropping tools on laptops, tablets and phones while tackling DIY tasks, so keep tech at a distance while you work.
  • Know how to use your tools. Read the instructions and if you’ve hired or borrowed a tool, such as a sander or a saw, ask for a demonstration first to avoid nasty mistakes.

Real examples where Aviva has helped to put right ‘DIY disaster’ claims: 


  • Destroy-It-Yourself: A customer removed a bedroom radiator in order to strip wallpaper behind it. While trying to reattach the radiator to its brackets, the customer broke a valve, causing water to pour onto the carpet, floorboards and straight through the kitchen ceiling below.
  • Just smashing: One gentleman was doing DIY around the house when he tripped and dropped a club hammer. Unfortunately the tool crashed into a patio door, causing it to shatter.
  • Painting problems: Another customer had cause to claim after decorating their lounge. The room looked lovely, but the customer managed to drip paint on the lounge and hallway carpets when tidying up.
  • Watch out! Another customer was splitting logs when he lost control of a chisel. It hit his expensive watch, causing the screen to crack.
  • A thrilling drilling: A customer drilled through a central heating pipe while securing floorboards in the master bedroom to allow for new laminate flooring. Water flooded into the living room below staining the ceiling, walls and floor.

Thankfully in each of these cases, Aviva was able to help put matters right.

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