Plumbing is the UK’s most admired household DIY skill, according to new research

Study findings

New research from Aspect has revealed that plumbing is the UK’s most admired household skill. We conducted a nationally representative poll of 2,000 UK adults to find out how they perceived a range of household skills, from handyman skills to painting and decorating.

Study participants ranked those household skills from 0 to 10 in terms of how useful they believed those skills to be. Aspect’s study team then sorted those rankings by ‘overall usefulness’, which was the average score given by all participants. They then split the rankings by which skill received the highest share of 10 out of 10 rankings, to designate an ‘impressiveness’ score. These are the skills people admired the most.

Top five most impressive skills

  • Fixing a plumbing leak
  • Assembling flat-pack furniture
  • Putting up a shelf
  • Installing a washing machine
  • Changing a lock

Plumbing skills overview

37% of all respondents gave fixing a leak a 10/10 impressiveness score – the highest score of all skills – and 27% gave installing a washing machine the same rank. Over-55s were most likely to have positive perceptions of household plumbing skills. Of the over-55 cohort, almost half (46%) gave fixing a leak the top score for impressiveness and 33% gave installing a washing machine top marks for impressiveness.

Women participating in the study were significantly more likely (33% more likely) than men to be impressed by the ability to fix a leak. 42% of women gave fixing a leak the top score for impressiveness and 32% of men did the same. And they are 20% more likely than men to rate the ability to install a washing machine 10/10 for impressiveness.

Expert opinion

Nick Bizley, Aspect’s director of operations, believes skills that come in handy during an emergency tend to be viewed most positively when compared to other, non-urgent skills.

“We know from firsthand experience how relieved people are to see a qualified and experienced tradesperson at their door, especially during an emergency situation such as a leak. The same sentiment seems to apply when asking people about the skills they admire around the house. It’s easy to be impressed by a skilled handyman who can put together flat-pack furniture or put up a shelf, but when it comes to emergency tasks, the stakes are that little bit higher.

“While we’d always advise people to call on a professional when they have an emergency problem at home, it’s handy to know some basics, such as how to shut off a water supply via the mains to stem a water leak. This can often be the difference between a maintenance problem and a maintenance emergency.”


Plumbers save the day

It’s not just our study that demonstrates how glad people are of plumbing skills. In June 2019, actor George Clooney made headlines after calling an emergency plumber to his Italian villa. George was expecting guests and noticed his pool water level was low, and the water was cold. He had his Italian bodyguard find a good local plumber to fix the problem.

Speaking to local press, that plumber, a Lake Como local called Dante Pennè, who wasn’t aware of who Clooney’s guests were, explained that his customer appeared to be in a rush to get the pool fixed. “I arrive and they are all upset.” Pennè claims he told the Clooney entourage “Let me work, otherwise I won’t be able to fix it.”

It wasn’t until he’d fixed the thermostat and the drain, getting the water level and temperature to the right level, that Pennè found out who the guests were. It was Barack Obama and his family.

Another high profile plumbing mishap happened in back in April 2019, when water poured in through the ceiling of a debating chamber in the House of Commons. The debate had to be adjourned and the debating chamber closed while emergency repairs were made. The leaking water flooded a café and the press gallery, got into light fittings and it took maintenance teams and plumbers almost a whole weekend to get the problem fixed.

About the study

OnePoll surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults on behalf of Aspect, between 25/06/2019 and 28/06/2019. OnePoll are members of the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research and employ members of the Marketing Research Society.

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