The Risks and Rewards of DIY Home Improvement

Shannon Willoby
Written by Shannon Willoby
Updated January 7, 2022
Woman building raised garden beds in backyard on summer afternoon
Thomas Barwick / DigitalVision via Getty Images

Angi surveyed 1,000 U.S. homeowners on the DIY home improvements they made during the pandemic, how much they spent, and their successes and failures

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Zoom parties. Sourdough starters. DIY projects. The COVID-19 pandemic inspired Americans to get creative with their newfound free time, with some turning to video happy hours and bread-baking to keep them occupied. But countless others took on DIY home improvement projects like painting, flooring, and landscaping to stay busy and spruce up their spaces.

In fact, 81% of homeowners took on a DIY project, with nearly half doing four or more—with varying degrees of success. These DIY statistics shed light on the risks and rewards of DIY home improvement and when homeowners chose to hire a pro instead.

Why Homeowners Chose to DIY During the Pandemic

From sheer boredom to financial savings, homeowners were DIY motivated during the pandemic for various reasons.

  • Save money: 62%

  • Spare time/boredom: 56% 

  • Thought it would be fun: 52%

  • Learn a new skill: 47%

  • Wanted to do something with family: 45%

  • Inspired by TV shows: 45% 

  • Motivated by social media: 39%

  • Hard to find the right pro during the pandemic: 33%

  • Wanted to prove someone wrong: 24% 

Americans Had Future Sale Value on Their Minds

When home transformed into the office, classroom, and local happy hour spot, Americans invested in improvements that provided both short- and long-term benefits.

  • 77% of those surveyed were motivated to take on a DIY project to increase the future sale value of their homes.

  • 62% undertook DIY projects they weren’t previously planning on doing prior to the pandemic.

  • Homeowners spent an average of $2,000–$5,000 on their largest project, with 31% spending over $5,000 and 13% surpassing $10,000.

  • Kitchen and bathroom remodels were the most expensive projects, with 34% spending $2,000–$5,000.

  • Landscaping was the most affordable DIY project for homeowners, with over 42% spending $1,000 or less.

Home Interior Projects Got the Most DIY Traction

Whether they were building a shed or cleaning gutters—or both—homeowners weren’t afraid to take on projects with varying complexity.

  • Home interior (painting, flooring, décor): 31%

  • Landscaping: 25%

  • Living space (living room, bedroom, office): 23%

  • Closet/storage: 23%

  • Maintenance (gutters, dryer vents): 21%

  • Kitchen/bathroom remodel: 18%

  • Home exterior (siding, roofing, windows, doors): 15%

  • Garage/basement/attic: 15%

  • Built addition, shed, or standalone structure: 12%

However, Homeowners Didn’t Always Escape Unscathed

Despite the many successes, some homeowners found that even the best-laid DIY plans often go awry.

  • Nearly 80% of homeowners experienced a minor or major mistake during their DIY projects

  • 47% reported that their pandemic project was more expensive than they expected, compared to 19% who said it was less expensive.

  • 47% of those surveyed said their pandemic DIY project was more challenging than they had anticipated, compared to 18% who said it was less challenging.

Most Common Minor DIY Mistakes and Injuries

The following statistics reveal the most common minor DIY mistakes and injuries homeowners experienced during their pandemic projects, from spilling paint to unruly pets.

  • Did something wrong and had to redo it: 44%

  • Spilled paint: 39%

  • Broke something and had to repair/replace it: 37%

  • Used the wrong tool: 33%

  • Made a huge mess: 30%

  • Kids or pets got in the way: 29%

  • Minor injury: 29%

  • Ordered wrong materials: 29%

  • Didn’t prep space well enough: 28%

“People tend to overestimate how extensive their knowledge is about many topics, especially home improvement, which can lead to unfinished projects or damaged property,” says Chris Alexakis, certified building contractor, design expert, and co-founder of Cabinet Select. “When it comes to any type of home project, egos are better left aside.”

Most Common Major DIY Mistakes and Injuries

While we all hope for the best when DIYing, some pandemic projects literally went up in smoke.

These statistics show the most common major DIY mistakes and injuries homeowners experienced during the pandemic:

  • Expensive damage: 52%

  • Broke something valuable/sentimental: 48%

  • Serious injury: 47%

  • Finished and realized it was done wrong: 47%

  • Started a fire: 44%

  • Fell off a roof or tall ladder: 44%

  • Someone was electrocuted: 41%

“When you're about to face a home renovation project, safety should be one of your utmost concerns,” says Alexakis. “Never fiddle with electric devices, hard chemicals, or gas lines without professional supervision.”

Hiring a Pro Was the Right Move for the Majority of Respondents

Home improvement projects aren’t always as easy as YouTube makes them look, leading some homeowners to call in the pros. Nearly 85% of those who hired a pro said their pandemic projects turned out as expected or better.

Whether homeowners weren’t confident in their skills or simply wanted to save time, here’s why they decided to hire a local contractor for their pandemic projects instead:

  • To make sure it was done right: 42%

  • Save time: 34%

  • Part of work required licenses/certifications I don’t have: 32%

  • Afraid of messing it up: 33%

  • Didn’t have the skills: 33%

  • Project was dangerous: 32%

  • Didn’t have the right tools: 25%

  • Needed extra hands to accomplish the work: 29%

While those surveyed weren’t afraid to try their hand at everything from landscaping to remodels, the majority of respondents relied on a mix of hiring and DIY than either one alone.

  • 93% of respondents hired a pro for at least one project.

  • Home interior and exterior, landscaping, kitchen, bathroom, and living space projects tied for the lead among DIY-pro mix projects.

  • Plumbers and electricians were the most commonly hired pros during pandemic projects (41%).

Men vs. Women DIY Statistics

Of those surveyed, DIY projects were popular among both men and women. However, their reasons for taking on these projects differed, along with the mistakes they were willing to admit.

  • 27% of men reported that their pandemic DIY project was much more expensive than anticipated compared to 11% of women.

  • Men are much more likely than women to say they took on a DIY project to prove someone wrong (31% versus 16%).

  • Both men (44%) and women (43%) admitted to making a mistake during their DIY project and having to redo it.

  • 38% of men admitted to experiencing a “major mess-up,” compared to just 15% of women.

  • 57% of men reported expensive damage during their projects, while 40% of women broke something valuable/sentimental.

  • Both men and women were more likely to hire a pro during the pandemic to handle home exterior projects like siding, roofing, windows, and doors.

Less Free Time May Contribute to Fewer DIY Projects

The pandemic might have inspired homeowners to take on projects they wouldn’t have otherwise, but will they continue now that the world has opened back up? Some respondents are already planning more DIY projects, while others no longer have the time.

  • 93% of homeowners are considering taking on another project in the next 12 months, while 43% are definitely planning a DIY project in the next year.

  • 41% of those considering DIYing in the next 12 months are hesitant to take on another project due to having less time than before.

  • 39% said their projects were fun but challenging, which makes them hesitant to DIY again.

  • Of those surveyed, 24% would like to DIY again but don’t have the tools or skills necessary for the project.

  • 35% of homeowners surveyed are ready for a more challenging DIY project, while others will opt for something easier (20%).

  • Home interior DIY projects will continue to be the most popular in the next 12 months

DIY doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. A mix of hiring and DIY can provide homeowners with a creative outlet and professional results.

If you’re looking for help with your next project, it’s easy to find pros near you on the Angi app. Download it in the app store or get it on Google Play.

DIY risk vs. reward survey results showed that most DIYers made mistakes that could have been avoided by hiring a pro to do the job.
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