Simon Fleet, Group Commercial Director at W.Howard Group, asks whether the golden age of DIY is over as younger homeowners prefer to call in the experts.
Not too long ago the DIY world was in full swing. TV schedules were packed full of programmes where people upgraded homes, hotels, B&B’s and even country manors across the UK, while a long bank holiday weekend inevitably meant a trip to a national DIY superstore, prying open a paint can and spending several torturous hours building flatpacked furniture.
DIY was king, and the home improvement sectors thrived on peoples’ desire to have the latest luxury trends in their home.
A few years later, everything has changed. Kingfisher – the owner of national DIY chain B&Q – is suffering through a difficult period of falling sales, while other household names have also seen falling sales in what Wickes described as a “challenging year for UK DIY”.
Consumer-focused DIY and home improvement stores have certainly had a far more difficult time in recent years than their trade-focused merchant competitors, but what’s causing the shift?
Well, a recent survey by Hometree, published by Insight DIY, suggested that only 15% of people born after 1997 would choose to do DIY rather than employing a professional, compared to 47% of the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation. Of the 1,000 people questioned in the survey, more than half blamed either lack of time or lack of knowledge for their aversion to DIY.
Time-poor families are far less likely to choose to ‘do-it-themselves’ when it comes to home improvement projects. This, and the growing skills shortage among the professional trades, is one of the main reasons why the industry is increasingly looking for easy-fit products.
These types of products are easy to install and come fully finished – making them far less daunting for those homeowners who do want to do it themselves, and saving precious time for professional tradespeople who want to finish each project quickly and move on to the next.
Take MDF profiles as an example. There was a time when fitting new skirting in a room meant then spending hours sanding down the wood ready for the primer and undercoat, then having to wait for each coat to dry before returning to apply the paint finish. For tradespeople this involved multiple visits to a property, while being time-consuming for those homeowners who might at first be tempted to take on such a job.
Now, advances in technology such as our KOTA mouldings mean skirting and MDF profiles can be supplied in a range of lengths, and with a durable, ready-painted finish. A wide range of colours are available to order, so whether consumer or tradesperson, updating a room with new skirting and architraves is now an easy job that can be completed quickly and without complication.