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Home DIY Projects

When making home improvements or carrying out simple repairs, DIY can be a great alternative to hiring tradespeople - it’s usually cheaper and you get to enjoy the satisfaction of completing the job yourself. However, if not carried out carefully or correctly, what might seem like a quick five-minute job can quickly turn into a disaster that’s expensive to fix.

With Brits making thousands of Google searches each month for queries like ‘how to plaster a wall’ ‘how to lay a patio’, and ‘how to rewire a house’, we decided to reveal which DIY tasks we’re asking Google for help with most. We also spoke to a tradesperson who’s revealed some of the worst DIY home renovations they have been called out to attend to, as well as putting together some tips for how to safely carry out DIY projects without causing damage.

The most searched for home DIY ‘how to’ questions

Brits are no strangers to home repair and renovation DIY. So, to find out which jobs people are most likely to take up themselves over calling in a professional, we’ve analysed Google search volume for a number of common home ‘how-tos’.

The three most commonly searched for DIY tutorials relate to plumbing and heating, but the top two are clear winners. ‘How to unblock a toilet’ is Googled an average of 20,000 times each month (240,000 annually) and ‘how to bleed a radiator’ 18,000 times (216,000 annually). ‘How to unblock a sink’ ranks third with 4,900 monthly searches, equating to around 58,800 searches every year.

Rank Category How to UK search volume (monthly) UK search volume (yearly est.)
1 Plumbing and heating How to unblock a toilet 20,000 240,000
2 Plumbing and heating How to bleed a radiator 18,000 216,000
3 Plumbing and heating How to unblock a sink 4,900 58,800
4 Decorating How to plaster a wall 4,600 55,200
5 General DIY How to lay a patio 4,300 51,600
6 Kitchen & Bathroom How to clean a washing machine 4,000 48,000
7 Decorating How to wallpaper 3,800 45,600
8 Decorating How to remove wallpaper 3,100 37,200
9 General DIY How to wire a light switch 2,900 34,800
10 Plumbing and heating What is a combi boiler 2,800 33,600

We grouped the DIY search queries into four categories - decorating, general DIY, kitchen and bathroom and plumbing and heating. The below table shows the most popular search term within each category.

Category Search term UK search volume (monthly) UK search volume (yearly est.)
General DIY How to lay a patio 4,300 51,600
Decorating How to plaster a wall 4,600 55,200
Kitchen and bathroom How to clean a washing machine 4,000 48,000
Plumbing and heating How to unblock a toilet 20,000 240,000

General DIY: The top queried tasks in this category are ‘how to lay a patio’ (4,300 searches per month, 51,600 annually) and ‘how to wire a light switch’ (2,900 searches per month, 34,800 annually). The third most searched for general DIY query is ‘how to hang a door’, with Brits searching for help with this task 2,800 times each month or 33,600 times each year.

Decorating: The decorating job Brits need help with most is plastering, as ‘how to plaster a wall’ is searched an average of 4,600 times, (55,200 annually), while wallpaper queries take the second and third spot. Brits search ‘how to wallpaper’ 3,800 times per month and ‘how to remove wallpaper’  3,100 times, amounting to 45,600 and 37,200 per year, respectively.

Kitchen and bathroom: The top three in this category all relate to key home appliances. ‘How to clean a washing machine’ is searched for 4,000 times each month (48,000 annually), while ‘how to disconnect a washing machine’ and ‘how to clean a dishwasher’ rank in joint second with each term being searched 2,000 times monthly (24,000 times annually).

Plumbing and heating: ‘How to unblock a toilet’, ‘how to bleed a radiator’ and ‘how to unblock a sink’ queries are the top three in this category list. 

What are some of the worst DIY projects of 2022?

To find out first-hand what some of the biggest DIY mistakes Brits make, we spoke with David Williams, who runs a facilities management company based in Southampton.

“The most common mistakes I see are with plumbing and electrical works. Naturally, you need a professional. Electrical more so for the safety side of things, and plumbing to avoid major damages to your house.

“I had one person try and change a ball cock valve which was located in the water tank in a loft area of the house. They made a big mistake; the pipe burst and flooded their house ankle-deep in water.”

When it comes to costs, David says maintenance jobs that involve reversing what a customer has incorrectly attempted themselves tend to be more expensive. “We had a customer who was simply changing a tap on a bath. They got the old tap off and out, but when installing the new one they twisted a copper pipe and we had to replace the whole length of copper pipe going through a wall.

“What was supposed to be £70 (on average) to simply fit a tap, went up to £375 to go through a wall with new piping and then fit the tap properly with the right rubber seals, etc.”

How can homeowners avoid letting DIY and home renovations invalidate home insurance policies?

When it comes to personal safety and preventing damage – as well as invalidating home insurance policies - David advises DIY-ers to avoid electrical work at all costs, as mistakes can be life threatening. But what other crucial advice should homeowners carrying out DIY keep in mind?

Let your insurer know. If you’re planning to have work done to your property such as a new bathroom or a loft extension, it’s important to give your insurance provider a heads up. You’ll likely have builders and tradespeople coming in and out of your house, and your property will be less secure. To account for this, your provider may place special conditions on your policy during the building work to cover for this risk. You should also consider accidental damage insurance, which could protect you if something is damaged in your home or to your contents whilst completing your project.

Consider whether the changes will impact the value of your home. Making significant changes to your home like adding a bedroom or an extension may mean that the rebuild cost has increased. Check in with your insurance provider to see whether your DIY project will have an impact on your house value, and therefore your premium.

Do some research. With the help of so many online how-tos and YouTube videos, there is plenty you can attempt yourself, such as putting up shelves, assembling flat-pack furniture, painting, and fitting laminate flooring. Just remember to be patient and take the time to learn. Smaller tasks can often be handled by yourself, but always call in a professional if you’re in doubt.

Sources and Methodology:

Starting with a seedlist of DIY-based queries, we used Ahrefs to obtain the UK’s monthly search volume, based on the latest known 12 months of data, for each question. These were then ranked from highest to lowest. This data was collected on 30th November 2022.

Expert comments were provided by David Williams, CEO of DMZ Group and The Oven Cleaners.