How lockdown has led to 'Band Aid Britain', with millions of homes in disrepair

Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 5:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 5:02 pm

Millions of British homes are in states of disrepair as COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing laws deter homeowners from admitting workers into their properties.

Despite a surge in spring cleaning and DIY during isolation, researchers found around six in ten (62 per cent) of properties now require major work, from broken boilers to damaged garage doors or wrecked garden fences.

The study of 2,000 homeowners revealed a ‘Band-Aid Britain’ trend with a third of people attempting to rectify issues themselves, to avoid calling a tradesperson in.

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Exterior paintwork crumbling has become a pressing issue for many, as have garden fences that are falling down or falling apart (17.8 per cent).

According to the data, 1.21m of the UK’s 14.6m owned homes have issues with their gas boiler, with six per cent of those affected left without heat or hot water, or having to use immersion heaters.

Other common issues include damaged windows or frames (16.8 per cent), cracked driveways or paving (15 per cent) and roof problems such as dislodged tiles or leaks (10.3 per cent).

Broken garage doors need attention in close to 10 per cent of properties, and ceilings require re-plastering or filling in a similar number of homes.

Another 13 per cent need new carpets due to lasting food or wine stains.

While fences and garage doors were considered urgent tasks, one in five of those with faulty boilers said they would wait to have them repaired, unaware that using an immersion heater can cost up to twice the price.

Andy Kerr, co-founder of smart home systems installer BOXT, that carried out the study, said: “These are challenging times. COVID-19 has made what’s usually a simple decision to call in a tradesperson in, much more tricky.

“Isolation in March and April disrupted the UK’s typical pattern of boiler replacements. And with many choosing to delay until the winter, it’s very possible that millions of homeowners could face lengthy waits for a new boiler in October, due to homeowners putting a post COVID-19 plaster on repairs earlier in the year.

“Some jobs which need doing can wait if you get the temporary fix right, but others will end up costing you far more in the long run, so it is worth looking around for companies which can carry out work now while respecting the need to minimise contact.”

The study found that one in three homeowners (31.2 per cent) have put major work on the backburner due to the pandemic.

A quarter of people admitted stalling because they felt it was too risky to have someone in their home during lockdown.

Of those who tried to do repairs themselves around one in ten applied a ‘temporary fix’ while slightly more followed a video to ensure they didn’t botch the job like six per cent did.

Among DIY disasters which emerged were one respondent who drilled too far into a wall and damaged the fibre optic cable.Another tried to remove wallpaper and pulled away chunks of plaster.

Around one in seven started a DIY repair job mid-lockdown but haven’t got around to finishing it, while half that number gave up on a task because they couldn’t hack it.

While around 10 per cent said they would get cracking as soon as lockdown rules are relaxed sufficiently, one in five said they would prefer not to have tradespeople in their home until at least 2021.

Almost one in three felt they would have the work completed by the end of this year.