DIY skills are 'in your genes'Some skills can’t be taught, says new survey

03 April 2010

Rubbish at DIY? It might not be your fault, as new research suggests your ability to do it yourself may be predetermined by your DNA.

Two thirds of Brits lack the necessary spatial awareness to complete DIY tasks, according to new research commissioned by Halifax.

Scientists say this spatial ability is genetically predetermined and cannot easily be learned, so if you struggle with DIY it could be down to your DNA.

DIY skills experiment

To measure inherent DIY ability, researchers asked people to complete multi-dimensional puzzles. These were specially designed to reveal innate understanding of shapes and mechanics – an ability that isn’t subject to ‘trial and error’ learning.

Men tended to score higher in the experiment, which suggests they are ‘better programmed’ to carry out essential DIY tasks.

Worryingly, Halifax has estimated that those who lack spatial awareness caused £400m worth of damage last year.

DIY gene?

Psychologist Dr Glenn Wilson who designed the experiment said: ‘Although there is not one specific ‘DIY gene', spatial awareness is vital in understanding how shapes fit together and is therefore fundamental to DIY skills.

‘Some people simply do not have the mental equipment necessary to manipulate shapes and will always struggle to complete DIY tasks successfully.’

Halifax research also found that 45% of Brits can’t put up a shelf, 23% have never learnt to change a fuse and 9% can’t even change a light bulb.

Professional repairers

Two fifths of Brits would rather turn to a professional than try a bit of DIY, according to the research.

Which? trades expert Alice Judd advised: ‘If you do struggle with DIY then it might be best to get a professional in. However, don't jump out of the frying pan into the fire - make sure you find someone qualified.