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Procrasti-Nation: Millions of homeowners delay essential maintenance for home decor

6 min read

 New research from Sky Protect Smart Home Insurance reveals that we are a nation of DIY-dodgers as millions of homeowners are improving their home’s appearance in favour of essential home maintenance, that could save them time and money in the long run. 

Brits are more likely to pick out a paint colour than pick up their toolkit as decorating (47%) tops the list of priorities around the home, followed by buying new furniture (28%) and improving their garden (22%).  

Whilst people naturally prefer the more ‘fun’ parts of homeowning, such as shopping for décor, instead of spending time on DIY, the research on just over 2,000 UK homeowners reveals that maintenance is a common concern as most (87%) worry about what essential jobs need doing around the home, as well as the financial implications (66%) that come with it.  

Cosmetic upgrades can help make houses feel like homes, but homeowners could be met with hefty bills if certain maintenance tasks aren’t carried out and, in some cases, could even lead to a claim being affected. In fact, nearly one in five (16%) have had a home insurance claim rejected due to essential maintenance not being completed, and one in five (20%) have had to pay out significant costs due to water damage from a leak that could have been prevented.  

The research reveals there is a nationwide knowledge gap, with many of us unaware how often certain home tasks need to be carried out, such as checking boilers (73%), attending to broken or leaky pipes (37%), or cleaning gutters (36%).  

With over a third (35%) admitting they prefer their home to look good rather than worrying about what’s happening under the surface, Sky Protect Smart Home Insurance reveals the top five reasons people delay doing essential home maintenance: 

  1. Too expensive (57%) 
  2. Makes them feel stressed (55%) 
  3. Don’t know where to start (44%) 
  4. Don’t know how to do it (43%) 
  5. Too time consuming (41%) 

Over a third (34%) of people said their property currently requires essential maintenance and estimate the cost being over £7,000 on average.  

In the past year, homeowners have spent an average of £4,000 on non-essential renovations, including cosmetic upgrades to bathrooms and kitchens. However, a quarter (24%) of 18–24-year-olds said they regretted spending money on decorating or cosmetic updates, due to it costing more than anticipated (31%). 

With the majority of respondents (71%) saying they would benefit from a guide of what needs to be done to maintain their home, Sky Protect Smart Home Insurance is working with TV personality and DIY guru Dom Wood to create a Home MOT checklist that guides homeowners on what to check around the house and the best time to do it. For Dom’s Home MOT tips, please see below. 

Dom Wood comments: “There is nothing I like better than spending time on DIY to improve my home. New cabinets, tiling, coving and skirting boards all help the look of your home, but it’s far more important to spend time on projects that prevent the worst from happening. These might be ‘invisible projects’ that have nothing to show for afterwards but could stop you having to pay out a fortune in repairs. We have an annual MOT for our cars, so why not for our homes?  That’s why I’ve joined forces with Sky Protect to help people better understand some easy ways to maintain their home.” 

A simple way to help keep an eye on your home is by installing smart home tech, such as leak detectors, that can help you identify small leaks before they turn into a bigger flood. Two thirds of homeowners (62%) are considering purchasing smart home products to help them detect issues in their home before they cause potentially significant damage.  

Matt Poll, Managing Director at Sky Protect said: “Looking after your home can be a weight on your mind, but by tackling a few essential jobs, you can take the necessary steps to help protect it from weather, wear and tear and keep it secure. For added peace of mind you could install some smart home tech and should make sure you have sufficient home insurance, so you’re covered in case something does go wrong.” 

Sky Protect Smart Home Insurance offers customers a smart home tech bundle worth £250, alongside Defaqto 5-star insurance cover at a fixed price for 24 months. Home emergency, cyber and legal cover are included as standard. For further information, please visit: www.sky.com/protect

Sky Protect Home MOT: Top Tips from Dom Wood*


  • Check window and door locks to ensure all are working properly ahead of colder months. Not only could dodgy windows and doors cause draughts and unwanted damp, but it also could also pose a burglary risk. If you’re prone to leaving certain windows or doors open, you can easily fit contact sensors that will send an alert when they’re not shut. 
  • Lag pipes, this is a fancy way of saying wrap some foamy tube stuff (pipe insulation) around the pipes outside the house, in the garage, or the loft to keep them warm. It is an insulation that can help prevent them from potentially busting in the winter when the water freezes and expands. 
  • Once a year when it starts to get colder, bleed radiators so they work effectively. Make sure to turn off the heating first and retighten the valve once the hissing stops and only liquid comes out.


  • Check for mould in the Winter months when we’re less likely to open windows. Mould is most likely to appear in spaces with moisture, like bathrooms or around windows. Most cases of mould can be removed with a good mould removal spray, a sponge and some good old fashioned elbow grease – just make sure you pop on a pair of gloves before cleaning! You can easily help prevent mould in the Winter months by opening windows occasionally or using dehumidifiers. 
  • Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to check the batteries are working and the alarm sounds. Do this every other month to be safe. The majority (69%) admitted to not knowing how often they should be testing the smoke & carbon monoxide alarms in their home.


  • Over a third (36%) don’t know how often to clean the gutters. It’s a tedious job, BUT, if you don’t remove moss and leaves, they will get flushed into your down pipe and block it. It’s best to carry this out every six months in Spring or Autumn. 
  • One in five (22%) said their roof needed to be maintained or repaired. Check the roof once the weather starts to get better in Spring for any damage sustained over winter in storms or extreme weather.


  • Over a quarter (28%) will identify a problem with their boiler when strange noises sound. Once a year, get your boiler professionally serviced in the summer before the colder months kick in. 
  • Look at the seals and pipes around your baths and sinks and place leak detectors to ensure there isn’t any unexpected leaks or drips. One in five (20%) have had to pay out a lot of money due to water damage from a leak that could have been avoided. 
  • Ahead of the colder months, carry out a chimney sweep once a year. This is vital if you have a wood burner or open fire. It will help prevent, house fires or Carbon Monoxide poisoning.


  • Consider getting some smart home tech like security cameras, motion sensors and leak detectors in your home. This helps you keep an eye on your home from afar, alerts you to things you can’t always see and gives you peace of mind.

Notes to Editors:

Research conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Sky.  

Sample of 2,005 UK homeowners 18+.  

Survey conducted online between 06 and 08 September 2023.

*If you’re ever unsure about carrying out a job around your home, get in touch with a professional who can give you help and advice.

£250 correct Sep 2023; based on market comparison site data. See Sky.com/techprices. Fixed price for 24m: If any changes are made to your policy, the revised price will take effect at the time of change and will continue for the remainder of your policy.*if any changes are made to your policy, the revised price will take into effect at the time of the change and will continue for the reminder of your policy.

 Neos Ventures Limited, trading as Sky and Sky Protect, is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Financial Services Register No. 752145). Our registered address is Sky Central, Grant Way, Isleworth TW7 5QD (registered company number 09941700).

For more information, please contact: Red Consultancy  

[email protected]


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