Home renovators spent £5 billion on “regretted” pandemic projects

Couple looking at paint swatches
  • Almost half of UK householders who renovated homes during the pandemic now regret decisions
  • Research suggests 7 million UK households have ‘regretted’ projects
  • Painting and wallpapering are most common disappointments, although some regret new bathrooms, kitchens and extensions
  • A fifth of those with regrets say their pandemic project is still unfinished
  • One in five unhappy renovators encountered a significant problem during their work, such as drilling through a pipe

Almost half of lockdown home improvers already regret their renovations, according to a new study* from Aviva. The survey, which interviewed 2,000 residents across the UK, discovered three fifths (59%) of UK residents had made physical or aesthetic changes to their homes, since the Covid pandemic began. Of these, 44% said they were unhappy with the results of their labours, equivalent to more than 7 million households with regrets.


of UK residents who made changes to their homes regretted their renovations 

The most common disappointments relate to painting and wallpapering rooms (regretted by 24% of remorseful renovators); home maintenance efforts, such as fixing loose floorboards or wobbly tiles (14% in this group) and upcycling projects (13%).

Some people had even bigger reasons to be disappointed: 9% of this group regretted a new bathroom, while 5% were unhappy with a new extension.

These frustrations come with a significant price tag too: on average £676 for each regretted project. This adds up to a staggering £4.9 billion across the UK** for these unsatisfactory efforts.


was spent on average per household on regretted renovation projects

Reasons for regrets were many and varied. A quarter (25%) of unhappy people said their project took longer than expected – the biggest reason for renovation remorse. Almost one in five (19%) said the quality of work wasn’t good enough, while a similar number (18%) encountered significant problems during their home makeovers, such as drilling through a pipe.

The same again (18%) had started a task which still isn’t completed, while one in seven (14%) just didn’t like the finished look.

And while more than half (57%) say they plan to put right their problem projects - at an average cost of £716 - the remaining 43% have decided to put up with them. Overall, more than half of people with regrets (53%) say it has put them off making further changes to their homes.

"Previous Aviva research found almost a third of people have encountered DIY disasters when doing up their homes."

Gareth Hemming, MD Personal Lines, Aviva says: “People turned their attention to their properties and gardens as lockdowns, tiers and restrictions confined them to their homes. But in many cases, what started out as an exciting idea seems to have turned into a bit of a burden, particularly if people need to find the cash to put things right.

“Previous Aviva research found almost a third of people have encountered DIY disasters when doing up their homes, and we’ve certainly seen our fair share of accidental damage claims for paint spilled on carpets, shattered windows and nails put through pipes.

“So if people are thinking of starting renovations, we’d encourage them to do the necessary preparations and take their time. And if they aren’t sure about a particular project, maybe sleep on their decision before making a start!”


Media Enquiries

Sarah Poulter

Group External Communications

Notes to editors:

*Figures relate to an online poll of 2,013 UK adults, carried out by Censuswide Research on behalf of Aviva 10-12 February 2021.

**Based on 27.8 million UK households according to ONS figures. According to the Aviva research, 16.4 million UK households (59%) undertook renovations during the pandemic, approximately 7.2 million (44%) of whom regretted their decisions, totalling £4,878,610,880.

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