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42% of homeowners hit a brick wall finding a builder

It's clear from our latest YouGov poll that homeowners are putting off renovating their homes, particularly in London. The biggest obstacle? No, not Brexit, but finding a builder. But it's not the only obstacle...

find a builder

  • 8 in 10 (79%) home owners have faced obstacles with their home improvement plans – levels highest in London at 87%
  • Difficulty finding a reliable builder is top obstacle – approximately 7.2 million homeowners (42%) affected
  • Planning permission is stopping or delaying more than a quarter (27%) of homeowners from carrying out necessary home improvements. A shocking 4.8 million people are affected

In the latest news release from our annual HomeOwners Survey of over 2000 UK adults, polled by YouGov and sponsored by, we found Brits are struggling to find decent builders to get their home repaired or done up.


Paula Higgins, Chief Executive, Homeowners Alliance, says: This is an unregulated sector and this aspect needs to be reformed.

“The shortage of construction workers is at a record low. We are not training a strong enough workforce as we have a lack of apprenticeships across the industry. Many construction workers are on zero hours contracts and, like many other industries, construction has been affected by a staff Brexodus.”

Alex Depledge, CEO of, adds: “The overall quality is so varied, depending on who you are lucky – or unlucky enough – to get. It’s no wonder that finding a reliable builder is such a big obstacle for people when it comes to renovating their homes. There needs to be urgent reform to regulate the industry, so that people know what they are getting and can easily find a builder they can trust.”

Planning permission a barrier

The study also revealed that planning permission is stopping or delaying more than a quarter (27%) of homeowners from carrying out necessary home improvements. A shocking 4.8 million people are affected.

Paula Higgins, Chief Executive, Homeowners Alliance, says: “It is local councils that make planning decisions, but their budgets have been cut back to the bone by central government. The upshot is planning departments with sky-high backlogs. While some local authorities have done well generating finances, for example, selling land to developers, others are struggling.

“When we have a housing crisis on our hands this lack of joined up thinking is breathtaking. We need local authorities who are managing to stay on top of planning to share good practice with others and for central government to offer a cash injection to planning teams to solve this crisis.”

Alex Depledge says:Our planning system isn’t fit for purpose. Our independent research at Resi shows that planning departments have been cut to the bone over the last decade. It’s no wonder that widespread delays and a lack of clarity make it a serious issue for so many homeowners.”

Regional picture

Regional Results Londoners most likely to experience obstacles to improving, those in North least so

  • Among homeowners in London, 87% cite some kind of obstacle preventing them from carrying out home improvement plans. This is the highest in the UK (overall UK is 79%). The region least likely to have barriers to improve is the North (75%).
  • More prevalent London issues – securing a reliable builder, architectural fees and Brexit: difficulty finding a reliable builder (53% vs 42%) and good builders being booked up (36% vs 29%), high cost of architectural fees (31% vs 25%) and economic uncertainty caused by Brexit (20% vs 15%) are more prevalent obstacles than in the UK overall.
  • Deciding on a design, cost of architecture fees and VAT more of an issue in Wales. Homeowners in Wales are more likely than in the rest of the UK to say difficulty making up their mind about design (15% vs 10%) is delaying improvements. Similarly, cost issues, such as architectural fees (30% vs 25%) and VAT (28% vs 23%) are bigger obstacles.



Methodology – 2019 HomeOwners Alliance Homeowners Survey

How calculations derived: Source: DCLG live tables on dwelling stock Great Britain table 102 by tenure (May 2018). 17,345,000 owner occupied dwellings: x 41.74% = 7.2 million (finding a builder); x 27.47% = 4.8 million (planning issues); x 23.16% = 4.0 million (VAT cost); x 30.53% = 5.3 million (paid cash in hand)

Methodology – 2019 Homeowner Survey

  1. This is the 7th Annual Homeowner Survey, a state of the nation report on the housing concerns and trends affecting homeowners and those aspiring to own.
  2. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+). In 2019, total sample size was 2195 adults of which 1337 were Homeowners. Fieldwork 14-15th Mar, 2019
  3. The 2019 Homeowner survey was made possible through sponsorship by BLP Insurance, leading provider of housing warranty insurance and UK’s leading architecture practice for everyday homeowners.
  4. Calculation method: Source: DCLG live tables on dwelling stock Great Britain table 102 by tenure (last updated May 2018) Total UK Dwellings 27,713,000, 17,345,000 owner occupied dwellings
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