Some DIY home projects turn out great. Others… not so much.

By Lauren Phillips
January 04, 2019

Often, DIY home projects seem like a great idea. DIY home improvement projects offer the opportunity to save a little money (or a lot of money) while making quick home repairs or improvements. DIYers might even pick up a few handy skills along the way. But not all DIY home projects are created equal. Some are easy home improvements, and some easily turn into DIY disasters.

A 2019 survey by home improvement site ImproveNet asked people about their DIY home project successes and failures, and people were more than willing to share exactly what went wrong with their DIY attempts. The results include responses from 2,000 United States residents who have attempted at least one DIY home improvement project.

People attempted an average of eight projects, and 63 percent regret doing at least one of those projects. On in three, or 33 percent, or respondents have even had to call in a professional to redo the DIY work.

What DIY home projects do people regret the most?

ImproveNet’s data ranks 32 common projects by regret levels. At the top of the list of what people regret most is installing floor tiles, followed by replacing the ceiling, refinishing hardwood floors, installing carpet, and finishing the basement; 40 percent of people who attempt a flooring DIY project regret it—maybe a sign that jobs of this sort are best left to the pros. On the flip side, people least regret installing lighting on their own.

DIY home projects that go wrong can fail in a number of ways. According to the survey, 55 percent went wrong by taking longer than anticipated. (People reported spending on average 22 hours more on the project than expected.) Regretted projects were also physically or technically harder than anticipated, more costly than expected, damaging to the home, or injury-causing to the DIYer.

Some projects that ran over budget forced people to spend almost twice as much money as they’d hoped on the endeavor. Considering 56 percent of respondents chose to do a DIY project instead of hiring a professional to save money, that’s not exactly encouraging. (Others attempted DIY projects to challenge themselves, for fun, or to make sure it was done right.)

Even DIY home improvement projects that were completed aren’t always satisfactory; 55 percent of respondents say their finished project didn’t look good, while 24 percent say it didn’t function well, and 21 percent say it didn’t hold up over time.

Choosing to attempt a DIY home project is no small decision, but hopefully knowing which projects most people regret can help aspiring DIYers pick the right projects. Consider skill levels, available time, budget, and patience, and maybe stick to the smaller projects before tackling a major one.