One in five UK adults doesn’t know how to boil an egg

Article date: 13 April 2017

  • Aviva research finds home skills gap amongst UK householders
  • One in five UK adults aren’t confident changing a light bulb
  • Almost half of UK adults under 35 can’t cook a meal without using a recipe
  • Four out of 10 under-25s turn to the internet to learn DIY skills

Millions of householders admit to struggling with even some of the most basic household tasks, according to a new study from insurer Aviva. Research carried out as part of Aviva’s latest ‘Home’ report discovered one in five people aren’t confident changing a light bulb (21%) while a similar number (19%) admit they don’t know how to boil an egg.

Almost a third (31%) of people would not be comfortable cooking a complete meal without a recipe, and more than four in 10 (43%) say they couldn’t change a baby’s nappy. The skills gap grows even bigger when it comes to changing a flat tyre – 63% wouldn’t know how to do this – while 70% wouldn’t feel confident changing a washer on a tap.

The full list of household tasks is revealed as follows:

Percentage who feel confident doing this task
Boil an egg 81%
Change a light bulb 79%
Cook a complete meal without using a recipe 69%
Read a map 66%
Sew on a button 65%
Unblock a sink 62%
Remove a stain from a carpet or clothing 59%
Change a baby’s nappy  57%
Wire a plug 57%
‘Bleed’ a radiator 53%
Check oil levels in a car 53%
Put up a shelf 47%
Put up wallpaper 39%
Change a flat tyre  37%
Change a washer on a tap  30%
Fit tiles 22%

However, 96% of UK adults say they’re confident doing at least some of these household tasks, so there could be an element of sticking to what we know.

Mum and Dad vs the web: who teaches ‘how to’?

When it comes to learning DIY skills, the most popular way is by trial and error, with half of people (50%) saying they have learned some skills this way. This is closely followed by family members passing down their knowledge – 45% of adults have picked up skills from their dads, and 35% from their mums.

However, Aviva also found that four out of 10 adults aged under 25 turn to the internet to aid their DIY skills – more than twice the number in this age group who have used a traditional book or guide.

In contrast, books and DIY manuals have aided nearly a quarter (23%) of people aged 55+, but just 11% of people aged 25-34.

Where people have picked up household DIY skills  Percentage who learned this way
I taught myself (trial and error)  50%
I was taught by my dad 45%
I was taught by my mum 35%
I learned via the internet e.g. ‘how to’ videos 20%
I learned through books / DIY manuals  17%
I learned through work 16%
I was taught by another family member / friend 15%
I learned at school  15%
I learned by watching TV 12%
I learned by asking experts 8%

Adam Beckett, Propositions Director for Aviva UK says: “As a nation we tend to take pride in our ability to do things ourselves in and around the home, so it’s a surprise to see there could be a skills gap in places! That said, we also know that people lead busy lives, so while we enjoy doing things ourselves, we also appreciate the opportunity to leave things to a professional from time to time, particularly with some of the more challenging jobs.

“Home emergency cover can be a great way to know someone is on hand for some of the trickier tasks such as unblocking a sink or dealing with a leaky tap. So if something does go wrong, we don’t necessarily have to resort to doing it ourselves. Although when it comes to boiling an egg, it may be time to turn pick up a cookery book!”

Aviva Response home emergency cover provides customers with peace of mind that their heating, plumbing and electrics are covered in the event of a breakdown or accidental damage. To find out more visit