UK: Home improvements worth £1,280 carried out by mum and dad for the 'Do It For Me’ generation

05 Oct 2012

  • Aviva reveals mum and dad continue to be first port of call for home improvement long after children have flown the nest

Vital home improvement know-how is being lost through the generations as grown-up children still turn to mum and dad to help them with their DIY and home improvements, according to new research1.

More than half (55%) of empty nest parents are still being called upon to help with home improvements around their grown up children’s homes, carrying out jobs that could equate to over £1,280* per year if carried out by a professional tradesman.

The survey, carried out for the UK’s largest insurer, Aviva, showed 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.

The toolbox of mum and dad is most frequently called in to help with garden maintenance (47%), painting (46%) and building and assembling furniture (34%). But some grown-up children still call upon their parents to help with bleeding radiators (9%) and even changing light bulbs (8%).

Most helpful parents forgo their own leisure time (52%) to help their children, while one in five pass up their own weekly chores (20%), their own DIY jobs (18%), gardening (18%) or spending time with their partner (18%) in the quest to help their children.

Despite the time and investment from mum and dad, it seems the ‘Do It For Me’ generation are in no hurry to learn how to do these tasks themselves. If parents were unavailable to help their grown up children, two fifths (42%) believe their children would leave the tasks until their parents are available and 40% believe their children would hire a tradesman instead of tackling the job themselves.

The Toolbox of Mum and Dad

How the ‘Do It For Me’ generation is making the most of the toolbox of mum and dad:

  • Parents visit their grown-up children to help them with their home improvements on average eight times per year, although a third (30%) visit their children on more than 10 separate occasions each year to carry out home improvements
  • In addition to their time, parents spend an average of £334 per year on buying materials and goods to help with their children's household improvements
  • While most of the younger generation (69%) ask their parents for their home improvement help over the phone, a third (32%) of parents are asked to help out when they drop in for a visit
  • 81% of parents think 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: “While the majority of us cherish our homes and take pride in making them our own, it seems the knowledge and willingness to take on these tasks ourselves is diminishing over time.

“It’s great to see that parents are still happy to help their children with their own home improvement and renovation projects, but inspiring them to learn for themselves and gain this skill set will undoubtedly help them make the most of their homes in the future.”

Craig Phillips, TV personality with over 20 years’ experience in the building and DIY industry, is working with Aviva to give homeowners advice on how to handle simple home improvement and maintenance tasks. Craig comments: “Home improvement tasks can appear daunting the first time you turn your hand to them, but learning a new skill such as painting or hanging simple fixtures can help you to transform your home. Aside from helping to personalise your home, additional home maintenance know-how will help you be confident in dealing with common minor problems that can arise.”

Home improvement knowledge being lost through the generations
While parents are most frequently being called upon to help their children with garden maintenance, common DIY tasks like painting, assembling furniture, and hanging fixtures are also frequently called upon from the toolbox of mum and dad:

Home improvement task

% of grown up children calling on the toolbox of mum and dad for help

Garden maintenance




Assembling furniture


Hanging fixtures


Installing appliances and electrical goods


Hanging wallpaper


Fitting light fittings


Fixing leaks


Fitting and fixing kitchen/bathroom units


Laying flooring/carpets




Bleeding radiators


Re-wiring plugs


Changing light bulbs


Hanging doors


Fixing/unblocking drains


Fixing a fuse




Anyone seeking specific help and advice on vital home maintenance skills can find a range of information to help on Aviva’s website: Alternatively, you can send your own question directly to an Aviva-partnered expert who will get back to you with a personalised response at

For more information on insurance direct from Aviva, go to
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If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:
Rebecca Holmes - Aviva Press Office
Telephone: +44 (0)1603 685177
Mobile: +44 (0)7800 690731

David Chambers - Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Telephone: +44 (0)207 413 3155
Mobile: +44 (0)7759 157673

James Dumelow - Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Telephone: +44 (0)207 413 3515

Methodology and research methods:
1 Aviva commissioned the Toolbox of Mum and Dad Research with Populus who interviewed 1,855 UK parents of 20-40 year olds living away from home online between 11th and 13th September.

*Average tradesmen prices sourced as below


Cost for tradesman / hour

Mean Time spent by parents

Total cost of job







Average of £15.75


£125.84 /

General DIY jobs

Average of £30



Furniture assembly




Dealing with contractors and coordinating logistics / deliveries




General carpentry




Plumbing issues




Electrical problems





Technological appliances and installation




White goods installation




Pest Control








Notes to editors:

Aviva provides insurance, savings and investment products to 43 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 10 most valuable brands and Aviva plc is in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.  In 2011 we invested £5.3 million into our UK communities. One in three of our employees were involved in community investment activities which included giving nearly 33,000 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. Find out more at

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