Toolbox of mum and dad plugs the DIY skills gap

Article date: 3 May 2013

  • One in five young people don’t own basic tools such as a hammer, screwdriver or spanner

A growing DIY skills gap and an empty toolbox is leaving young adults ill-equipped to do basic household maintenance tasks, relying instead on mum and dad for both advice and hands on help.

Less than two-fifths (38%) of young people know how to do a selection of ten basic household DIY tasks, such as putting up a shelf, changing a fuse or assembling furniture. And one in five (20%) don’t have any basic tools such as a hammer, screwdriver or spanner, according to new research by Aviva that highlights the extent of the DIY skills gap among the generations¹.

The younger generation (18-24 year olds) are up to four times less likely to be able to do a selection of basic DIY tasks than the older generation (65+ year olds.) The skills gap is most pronounced on jobs such as tiling a bathroom (only 9% of 18-24 year olds could complete, compared to 45% of 65+year olds) and fixing a leaking tap (only 14% of 18-24 year olds could complete compared to 42% of 65+year olds).

While many of us (43%) turn to the internet to plug our DIY skills gap and gain advice and help on how to complete simple home maintenance tasks ourselves, 51% of 18-24 year olds instead turn straight to mum and dad for advice on solving their DIY dilemmas.

But it’s not only DIY advice that grown up children are looking for. More than half (55%) of empty nest parents with children up to the age of 40 are still being called upon to actually help with hands on home improvements in their children’s homes.

Parents spend the equivalent of nearly one hour per week (51 hours per year) carrying out home improvements for grown up children aged 20-40 living away from home, doing tasks that would equate to over £1,2802 per year if carried out by a professional tradesman, including garden maintenance (47%), painting (46%) and building and assembling furniture (34%).

In addition to their time, parents fork out an average of £3341 per year to buy materials and goods to help with their grown-up children's household improvements.

Unsurprisingly, 81% of parents believe they were more capable of handling their home improvements at their children's age than their children are nowadays.

Commenting on the research, Heather Smith, director of home insurance at Aviva said: “Learning how to do DIY and simple home maintenance jobs around the home are important life skills to have and it seems that the temptation to call in mum and dad for both advice and hands on help is hindering many young people from learning these skills themselves.

“Passing down this knowledge through the generations is an important step to help young people equip themselves with the basic home maintenance skills, so they should watch and learn when dad or mum are putting up pictures or hanging shelves, and of course they can always bolster their knowledge with the vast range of advice and ‘how to’ tutorials on the internet once they’ve built up their confidence.”

Anyone seeking specific help and advice on vital home maintenance skills can find a range of information to help on Aviva’s website:

For more information on insurance direct from Aviva, go to
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- Ends -

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

Rebecca Holmes: Aviva Press Office: 01603 685177: (0)7800 690731:

Karen Butcher: Hill+Knowlton Strategies: 0207 413 3181

Methodology and research methods:
¹Aviva commissioned the research with Populus who interviewed 2050 GB adults online between 1st and 3rd March 2013. Additional research was carried out among 1,855 UK parents of 20-40 year olds living away from home online between 11th and 13th September 2012.

2Average tradesmen price calculated as below. Sources for tradesman hourly rate from a selection of website quotations.


Activity Cost for tradesman / hour Mean Time spent by parents Total cost of job Source
Decorating  £20  9.72 £194.40
Gardening Average of £15.75   7.99 £125.84 

General DIY jobs Average of £30   7.46 £223.80 
Furniture assembly £20   6.89 £137.80 

Dealing with contractors and coordinating logistics / deliveries £25   4.56 £114  
General carpentry £20   3.75 £75 
Plumbing issues £40   2.92 £116.80 
Electrical equipment repair £15   2.60 £39   
Technological appliances and installation £60   2.57 £154.20 
White goods installation £35   2.55 £89.25 
Pest Control £30   0.45 £13.50 
 Total      £1,283.59  

 Notes to editors:

Aviva provides insurance, savings and investment products to 34 million customers worldwide.

We are the UK’s largest insurer with over 14 million customers and one of Europe’s leading providers of life and general insurance. We combine strong life insurance, general insurance and asset management businesses under one powerful brand. We are committed to serving our customers well in order to build a stronger, sustainable business, which makes a positive contribution to society, and for which our people are proud to work.

We are ranked as one of the UK’s top ten most valuable brands and Aviva Plc is in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. In 2012 we invested £5.7m into our UK communities. One in three of our employees were involved in community investment activities which included giving nearly 30,000 hours.

Aviva is working in partnership with Railway Children through the Aviva Street to School programme to get children living or working on UK streets back into everyday life, especially education. Find out more at

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