DIY Milestones: The Tasks You Should Master

Younger generations are often criticised for not knowing the most basic DIY skills, but it’s not just millennials losing their DIY touch – it’s the whole of the UK. Last year, there were nearly 3 million Google searches regarding the most common DIY tasks – and that’s from Britain alone. 

That’s why Insulation Express have collaborated with a DIY & Home expert to drill down on the tasks you should have mastered by the ages of 16, 21, 30 and 40. Better yet, we’ve also uncovered the financial saving of learning how to do-it-yourself.

The DIY Skills You Should Know By Each Age Milestone

Being able to accomplish these skills not only gives you the freedom to work on home renovation projects but also a massive sense of achievement. Better yet, mastering these projects will save you a huge £2,450* in professional costs.

How many DIY milestones have you already got to grips with? Why not read on to discover how to become an expert in every task.

By the Time You’re 16

While you may be surprised to see the age 16 on this list, Creative DIY & Home Decor Expert, DiY Blonde® explains that “it is never too early to start practising and getting to grips with all things DIY.”

DiY Blonde® adds, “without even realizing, at school you would have been taught some basic DIY techniques like sewing on a button or wiring a plug, so there is no reason to not put these new skills into practice at home.”

“If you have teenagers, it is really important to encourage them to have a go at basic DIY. These small activities may not seem much, but knowing how to fix and adapt to the household is a great start on the road to adulthood.”

Change a Lightbulb

Professional Cost: £0

As one of the most simple DIY tasks, everyone should be able to do this by the age of 16 years old. Yet, 66,840 Britons googled how to change a lightbulb last year.

Changing a lightbulb is pretty straightforward. Firstly, remember to turn off the power, then let the bulb cool before touching and changing it.

Sew a Button

Professional Cost: £10 For 8 buttons

According to the fashion brand,‘Thought’, a third of Brits (33%) don’t know how to sew a button. As 8 million Brits admit to throwing out clothes that need repairing, learning how to sew a button could help lessen the clothing waste generated by Brits. 

Sewing a button is pretty straight forward. Firstly, use a knot and two tiny stitches to fasten the thread on to the inside of the garment. Then thread the needle through to the front of the fabric and onto the button. Sew three or four times through each buttonhole. Bringing the needle to the back of the item, and finish off by tying a knot

Wire a Plug

Professional Cost: £40 per hour

Whilst this may seem a tad intermediate for a 16-year-old to master, this handy skill is actually taught in high-school. But despite this, last year nearly 102,800 Brits searched ‘how to wire a plug’ in Google. 

By the Time You’re 21

At 21 years old you may be living away from home which will leave you feeling independent. With this in mind,  “the need to know some basic DIY is really important,” DiY Blonde® adds, as “you may, for example, find you have a dripping tap.”

Turn off the Water Supply

Professional Cost: £0

At this age, you may be living in rented accommodation, therefore, being able to turn off the water can be particularly handy in an emergency. Being able to do this will minimise any damage whilst you wait for your landlord to source a plumber.

To turn off the water supply to the house you will first need to find the stop tap. This is usually under the sink on the ground floor, however, if you live in a flat this might be outside. Turn the tap clockwise to turn the stop tap off. 

Construct Flat-Pack Furniture

Professional Cost: £35 – £70

“Projects such as attempting to construct flat-pack furniture can often feel like a drag, but the sense of achievement you will feel when you have built the furniture is surprisingly satisfying” claims DiY Blonde.  Plus there’s the added benefit of saving money as a professional will charge between £35 – £70 to construct a single piece of flat-pack furniture. 

If you decide to tackle flat-pack furniture yourself, you should construct it in the room you wish to place it. You may also want to find an assistant to help with reading the instructions or to hold things in place. Put all the fixings in a suitable place so they don’t get lost. Then, the most important thing – read the instructions! If you follow them correctly, it’s hard to go wrong. 

Hem Clothes

Professional Cost: £35 per item

Last year, 31,000 Brits searched how to hem their own clothes. However, more Brits (928,080) searched for a clothes tailor, which could set you back £35 per item. 

That’s why being able to make clothes shorter can be an essential life skill, saving you money by not needing a professional or new wardrobe.

Fix a Dripping Tap

Professional Cost: £94

Last year, ‘how to fix a tap’ was the most Googled DIY-related question Brits asked – racking up 348,746 searches. There’s no denying that a leaky tap can be both costly and annoying. What’s more, it may be a lengthy problem if your landlord is hesitant to shell out £94 for a professional to repair it. 

To fix a dripping tap, first, you will need to turn off the water supply. Next, locate the screw of the tap which is usually found underneath a decorative cap on top of the tap. Once you have located the screw you can take your tap apart. Lay all the parts on the side in order of when you took them off. This will help when you put the tap back together. Now you will either need to replace the ceramic disc, rubber washer or o-ring. This is dependent on your tap.

By the Time You’re 30

By the age of thirty, chances are that you’re in your ‘forever’ home (rented or bought) “so the need to be able to carry out some DIY is essential,” DiY Blonde® comments. Not only will you be saving money through DIY, but it will “inspire you to be creative with the décor in your home – having the freedom to change a room scheme whenever you desire.”

That’s why it’s good to know “simple DIY projects such as painting a wall or hanging a picture.”

Hang a Picture

Professional Cost: £138 for six pictures

Although hanging a picture seems like a straightforward task, it was the seventh most asked DIY query on Google last year. So much so that 244,360 Brits searched for it. For those who haven’t quite mastered this skill, you should have by the age of 30. 

But, to make it look effective you need to plan – use a measuring tape and a pencil to mark where you want to hang the picture. Once you have fixed the frame to the wall, use a spirit level to ensure it’s straight or consider using an app on your phone. 

Paint a Wall

Professional Cost: £1,500 for the whole house

Painting a wall can seem like a daunting task, but the end reward is so worth it. Once you know how to paint one wall you can paint your whole house and save yourself £1,500. The actual act is simple, you just need a bit of prep to make it work. 

Remove all of the furniture out of the room before you start. Then you should clean the walls, by either washing or vacuuming to remove any dust or dirt. Once you’ve done that, tape off the trim and anywhere else you want to protect – then you’re good to go.

Bleed a Radiator

Professional Cost: £100 for up to 10 radiators

This DIY task is a must for any homeowner. Which is probably why it’s the second most googled DIY question, with 348,746 Britons asking Google ‘how to bleed a radiator’ last year. If your home takes a while to heat up, or it’s colder than normal – you may have air trapped inside your radiator and you need to bleed it. This will cost you £100 for a professional to do it, or you can do-it-yourself completely free!

Firstly, you’ll want to turn the central heating off to avoid any hot water spraying out of the radiator. Place a bowl underneath the radiator, then turn the bleed screw slowly with your radiator key – just a half-turn, anti-clockwise. You should hear a hissing sound, hold a cloth close to avoid water dripping. When the hissing sound stops and water is trickling, tighten the screw. Once you have bled all your radiators you can turn the heating back on. 

Put Up a Shelf

Professional Cost: £88 per shelf

If you thought you could leave putting up shelves to the professionals, you’re wrong. Being able to put up shelves is a key skill in passing DIY school. This task is a bit more tricky, but once you’ve mastered it you will feel a big sense of achievement. Just think of all the shelves you can hang! 

Ensure there’s no electrical wires or pipes behind the wall before you start drilling. Hold the metal bracket on the wall – check it’s straight by using a spirit level or phone app. Then mark the fixing position on the wall with a pencil. Drill the holes in the marked positions, then gently hammer the wall plugs into the holes. Screw the metal brackets into place, then slide the shelf onto the bars. 

By the Time You’re 40

“With age, comes confidence and this can apply to pushing yourself to develop your practical skills further. By now you will probably find DIY a breeze and you won’t bat an eyelid at cleaning your gutters or changing a plug socket.” DiY Blonde® says.

You may even be inspired to take on your own dream build project, or start restoring furniture, “leading to sustainable living, which is very topical at present.”

But, DiY Blonde® says “the main benefit of expanding your DIY repertoire, is that it encourages you to stay active and it will keep your mind young.” 

Restore Furniture 

Professional Cost: £150 per item

Restoring furniture can mean anything from, repairing, reupholstering, or revarnishing. This can give an old piece of furniture a new lease of life, which can be particularly handy if you’re short on money, or just fancy remodelling your furniture into something else. 

Clean Gutters

Professional Cost: £150 

By the age of 40, you’ve probably lived in your home for some time now, so it’s more than likely that your gutters need cleaning. Having clean gutters is crucial in the overall maintenance of your home, it allows the rainfall to drain efficiently and helps to avoid dampness.

Whilst the task isn’t hard, it does require some physical effort and good safety practice. That’s why many leave it to professionals. But if you feel comfortable working at height and with ladders there’s no reason you can’t do it as this could save you up to £150. 

Before you begin, ensure you dress appropriately for the job and wear gloves.You can either use a scoop or your hands to remove the debris. Once the gutters are clear, use a hose to clear out any remnants. 

Wire a New Light Switch

Professional Cost: £75 per switch

‘How to wire a light switch’ was the fourth most-Googled DIY question for Brits last year. It received 319,190 searches. This is definitely one of the more tricky DIY jobs on our list, as you need to follow the rules around electrical safety and you must comply with electrical regulations. However, if you’re able to accomplish this you can save yourself £75 per switch and have the power to light up a room!

If you manage to complete all these DIY tasks, you would save yourself a colossal £2,450*, so it really pays to DIY. Even if you’re experienced or inexperienced with DIY, there’s always time to learn new projects and give you the satisfaction of a job well done! 

*Professional costs added up using averages from tradesmen prices.


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