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Statistical Brief: Who Makes Do-lt-Yourself Home Improvements?

Report Number SB/92-4

When homeowners need improvements made to their homes—for instance, remodeling their kitchens—they don't always call a contractor. Many choose to do it themselves.

More than half of American homeowners had some sort of work done on their homes during the 2-year period of 1986 and 1987. About 47 percent of these owners (14 million) were "do-it-yourselfers"—they did most of the work themselves on at least one of their improvements or repairs.

This Brief presents the demographic characteristics of households who did do-it-yourself jobs. The chart on the right shows the types of work this Brief covers. Data come from the 1987 American Housing Survey (AHS). The AHS asks respondents about jobs that tend to be expensive or require skilled labor. As a result, the amount of do-it-yourself work is understated. For example, painting a room of your home wouldn't be counted as an improvement unless the cost of materials was $500 or more. Also, the Brief focuses only on work done to the home itself or to an attached structure and does not include detached garage or yard improvements.


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