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Ramping up: repairs, renovations and recycling

Smiling carpenter talking on the phone
  • More than a third of UK adults plan to increase household repairs, rather than buying new
  • A similar number (33%) intend to buy more pre-owned items in the future
  • But two fifths of people say they have damaged an item when they tried to repair it
  • Repairers are driven by sustainability and sentimentality, as well as saving money

Millions of households are turning to repairs and renovations, rather than replacements, a new study reveals today.

Earlier this year, Aviva’s latest How We Live Report revealed nine out of 10 UK adults (88%) try to fix selected household items when damage occurs.

One person over-tightened a toilet seat and ended up cracking the ceramic bowl.

A further Aviva survey of 2,000 UK adults has now discovered more than a third (36%) of people expect to repair more possessions in the coming months.

A similar number (35%) intend to upcycle more, while 33% believe they will be buying more pre-owned items. Others plan to use barter systems (12%) or pick up free items from giveaway sites and social groups (24%).

Make do and mend

When it comes to mending belongings, people are most likely to have a go at fixing clothing, furnishings and furniture.

If a simple repair were required, 45% of people would be confident mending clothes – although less than half of this number would attempt to mend shoes (20%). Almost a third (30%) would try to fix curtains or rugs, while 28% would have a go at repairing furniture.

Electrical goods pose more of a challenge and just 15% would feel confident fixing a phone, tablet or computer equipment.

Household item

Percentage of UK adults who would feel confident doing a simple repair

Clothes

45%

Furnishings e.g. curtains, rugs

30%

Furniture

28%

Children's toys / baby items

25%

Small electrical appliances e.g. kettle, toaster, hair straighteners

22%

Pedal cycles

21%

Shoes / boots

20%

Computer equipment e.g. laptop, printer

15%

Phone / tablet

15%

Car / motor vehicle

13%

Large electrical appliances e.g. fridge, washing machine, cooker, TV

11%

More than half (54%) of repairers say they would do so to save money.

However, people are also keen to avoid sending items to landfill (31%), while others say it’s more convenient to repair an item then buy new (32%). One in six renovators (17%) are keen to pass on their repairing skills to others.

Another person drilled through a water pipe while fixing a floorboard.

However, the study also finds that repairs are not without the occasional hiccup. Two fifths of UK adults say they have tried to fix an item, only to make the problem worse.

Many report that their possessions looked worse after they had tried to repair them, that they couldn’t put items back together, or they simply didn’t work and had to call in a professional.

Specific examples include: 

  • One person over-tightened a toilet seat and ended up cracking the ceramic bowl.
  • Another tried to cover scuffs on a leather shoe using a marker pen, but found that the repair looked very obvious.
  • One respondent flooded their bathroom after trying to fix a radiator.
  • Another person tried to fix the leg of a wooden table, only to break another table leg in the process.
  • After trying to repair their washing machine, one person reported that it promptly blew up when it was turned on again.
  • One individual tried to repair a rip in their daughter’s prom dress – but managed to break the sewing machine while doing so.
  • Another person drilled through a water pipe while fixing a floorboard.

Kelly Whittington, Property Claims Director, Aviva General Insurance says:

“Our research suggests there’s a keenness to repair and renovate, along with real enthusiasm for pre-loved items. Both can offer an opportunity to save money and it’s fantastic to see that items are being repurposed and saved from landfill.

“However, we’d urge people to only take on those repairs they are confident they can do safely, particularly when dealing with electrical goods. As our study shows, it’s not unusual for individuals to make matters worse if they don’t know what they’re doing. This is when people should turn to a professional to avoid potentially dangerous scenarios – as well as a few tears!

“Between July and December 2021, through our UK claims process, we rescued 570 smartphones and laptops, by repairing damaged devices, rather than replacing them. We’re constantly speaking to our customers and are keen to reflect their attitudes, so when we can build green ambitions into our processes, this is a great result all round.”

-ends-

Media enquiries:                                                                                                                                      

Sarah Poulter

UK External Communications

Notes:

Unless specified, figures relate to an online poll of 2,016 UK adults aged 16 and above, conducted by Censuswide Research on behalf of Aviva in May 2022. The latest Aviva How We Live report was published in April 2022 and represents a study of 4,000 UK adults.

Notes to editors:

  • We are the UK’s leading Insurance, Wealth & Retirement business and we operate in the UK, Ireland and Canada. We also have international investments in Singapore, China and India.
  • We help our 18.5 million customers make the most out of life, plan for the future, and have the confidence that if things go wrong we’ll be there to put it right. 
  • We have been taking care of people for 325 years, in line with our purpose of being ‘with you today, for a better tomorrow’. In 2021, we paid £30.2 billion in claims and benefits to our customers.
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