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This article was written and distributed by the Federation of Master Builders, the building industry's largest trade organisation, representing over 13,000 small and medium-sized companies throughout the UK. If you'd like to know more about the FMB, or would like to find a reputable builder, try the Find a Builder web site at:

Britain wastes millions on home improvement

UK homeowners spend far longer sorting out a holiday (35 days) or buying a car (99 days) than planning home improvement work (24 days). Indeed we spend four times as long planning a car purchase as a major home improvement project, such as a loft extension or a conservatory, according to the latest independent research, the Federation of Master Builders

The new report revealed that we are a nation of stubborn DIY-ers - still far too keen to do the work ourselves rather than get a tradesperson in - with 40% doing all building work, including major building projects, themselves. Only one in three (29%) homeowners said they would hire a tradesperson.

The homeowners confessed that as a result of poor planning and trying to do it all themselves, their home improvement work took far longer (36%), cost more (17%) and they didn’t get what they wanted in the end.

People definitely learnt from their experiences however. After the problems of their last building project, 34% said they would now always use a competent tradesperson for any building work and 47% said they would use a competent builder for larger jobs and continue to DIY smaller jobs and a stubborn 16% said they would continue to DIY all jobs themselves.

“People rush headlong into home improvement projects without preparing or planning it, with the result that they change their minds, realise they don’t have the right permissions, tools or materials and leave it half finished,” said Richard Diment, director general of the FMB. “

"Our FMB builders find themselves picking up the pieces from unfinished DIY-jobs or having to adapt to endlesst changes because homeowners have not planned their project well and change their minds as they go along. Those homeowners in London and Scotland are by far the worst for changing their minds,” he added.

Planning not only involves preparation and thinking through what the work entails, it also involves dealing with planning authorities, building control officers, party wall surveyors and building contractors and understanding what approvals, permissions and consents are required for the work, according to Richard Diment.

The FMB recommend planning whether to and when to get the builders in and what to do yourself. If it’s a small manageable job such as taking down bathroom tiles, putting up shelves, putting down patio slabs, then it’s perfectly reasonable for homeowners to do it themselves. However larger jobs such as fitting a new bathroom, knocking down walls, re-plastering, then the FMB recommends that you get a professional in to do it right.

To guide homeowners through the building process, the FMB has joined
forces with Sarah Beeny of Channel 4’s Property Ladder to provide a practical
guide through the building process from initial research to completed project, entitled "Practical Tips for Building Success."

In starting out, it covers from remodelling existing rooms to adding a conservatory, whether or not to use an architect, what to do if your building is listed and what to tell the neighbours.

In preparation and planning, it covers planning permission and building regulations, both in England and Scotland and Party Walls.

In choosing the right builder and working with your builder, it covers drawing up a contract and tips for before and during the build and on completion.

Finally it covers ways of protecting your investment

For a copy of Practical Tips for Building Success, just call 08000 152522 for your free copy or download it on



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