DIY or ‘do it yourself’ is a familiar and fairly self-explanatory term that pervades in today’s society. It refers to methods of home improvement, without getting a professional to do it for you, hence the term ‘do it yourself’. For some, it’s a preferred hobby, whilst for others, it’s the stuff of nightmares!

The Beginnings of DIY

The popularity of DIY really took off during the 1950s which has even been referred to by some as the ‘Decade of DIY’. Many homes had been destroyed or badly damaged during World War II, and as such many new, modern style homes were being built. Bought by young, middle class couples, they sought to put a stamp on their homes, hence the boom in the do it yourself culture.

An extension of the 'make do and mend' mentality fostered during the war, DIY’s popularity soared during this decade, and a monthly DIY digest at the time proclaimed ‘there isn’t a room in the house that will not offer us some chance for improvement at a modest outlay.’ Kitchen and bathroom improvements proved most popular though, and innovations in new materials and products such as Formica, wallpaper adhesive and filler products, as well as new electrical items for the home, meant that there was no better time for people to begin making their own home improvements.

Whilst writing this blog post I stumbled upon (not the web site), just me and my internet browser clicking routines, this site that allows you to build your own kitchen and select any kitchen units you like!

DIY Today

The DIY trend of the 1950s has proven that it is no mere fad, and today the DIY market means big business. In 2012, UK households forked out over £10.5 billion on home improvements, which works out at around £400 per household. However, in truth, this represents a decline in the spend on DIY, with the peak spend sitting closer to £15.5 billion in 2004. The UK recession, along with the burst of the housing bubble helped contribute to this dip, but as the first signs of economic growth begin to show, and house prices begin to recover, no doubt DIY will go from strength to strength.

A DIY Timeline

There are literally hundreds of different DIY projects that people can undertake to spruce up their home. These can range from small, one off tasks to trickier, longer projects that can take up a substantial amount of time. Some popular projects include sprucing up a kitchen by replacing the cabinet doors, counter tops and kitchen units, which can take as little as a day or two with the right tools and know how, or giving your garden a makeover.

Other projects include freshening up your home with a new lick of paint, giving your carpets a deep clean with a hired carpet cleaning machine, replacing the grout around kitchen and bathroom tiles or giving the patio a good clean with a pressure washer. Many of these tasks can be done in a weekend or less, though it depends upon the knowledge and skill of the DIY-er! For instance, in a survey held last year, 50% of respondents said that they had been involved in a DIY project that took them over a month to complete, whilst 26% replied that they had never spent more than a week on a DIY task. 

DIY Demographics

In 2003, it was reported that one in three women did the majority of DIY tasks in the home, although apparently this was often to finish a task left unfinished by a male! However, DIY is still typically a male dominated sphere, with one survey showing that whilst 70% of men in the 25-33 age group would do it themselves, only 25% of women would do the same. 

DIY Bloopers

Another recent survey revealed that home improvements caused 220,000 Brits to take a trip to the hospital last year, and in 2011 it was estimated that home-owners in the UK could waste around £540 million on unfinished, over-ambitious DIY tasks. If you don't know what you're doing, you could risk disaster, and a massive 14 million men have admitted to wrecking their homes by undertaking a DIY project that was a little beyond their capabilities!

So, next time you dust off your tools and prepare to indulge in one of the nation's most popular pastimes, don't forget, you're taking part in a proud and long tradition!



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