National Home Improvement Month kicks off with a broadcast media fanfare

THE British Home Enhancement Association (BHETA)’s annual consumer-facing promotion, National Home Improvement Month (NHIM) kicked off on September 1 with a round of media on national and regional radio network interviews, highlighting the nation’s new love affair with DIY. 

National Home Improvement Month (NHIM) usually takes place in April but was this year postponed owing to COVID-19.

Supported by Homebase and Wilko, the campaign aims to inspire and enable consumers tackling home and garden projects or having fun with crafts and upcycling. National Home Improvement Month features the tagline ‘Love The Home You Live In’, and consumers can get involved by following #makeonechange and #loveyourhome.

This year’s NHIM follows on from months of lockdown, during which 39% of Brits have rediscovered DIY home and garden improvement, contrasting with only 1 in 10 who were confident enough about it before the effects of the pandemic were felt. What is more, with more time and more money on their hands, it seems a new generation of DIY-ers has been born.

In fact, over half of those who made changes to their home were found to be aged 24-34, with the second largest grouping being under-24s. Similarly, over two thirds of those aged 24-34 revealed that they felt more confident in their DIY skills because of the time spent tweaking their homes over lockdown.

With an 84% increase in online searches for ‘home décor’ over the summer – according to Google -  and a doubling in UK searches for ‘garden tools’ in the same period, NHIM is all about maintaining momentum on this DIY fervour. NHIM ambassadors Craig Phillips (TV presenter, DIY expert, and former Big Brother winner) and Georgina Burnett (TV presenter, property and DIY interiors expert) have both echoed the call. Moreover, BHETA’s marketing manager, Steve Richardson took part in 16 radio interviews on the renewed popularity of DIY to kick off the campaign.

Steve commented: “National Home Improvement Month is always an exciting time for BHETA and for the home improvement industry. It is great that suppliers and retailers are working together to help people all over the country. The emotional benefits of improving your home environment have always been immeasurable, and lockdown has illustrated that we all need a home that supports our day-to-day lifestyle.

“NHIM is offering consumers the chance to continue their enthusiasm, hone their skills even more, be inspired by the next project and boost confidence still further. #makeonechange is inspirational and achievable and to celebrate, we are challenging consumers to do just that with the opportunity to win over £1,000 worth of home improvement goodies from National Home Improvement Month sponsors Nilfisk, House of Mosaics, QEP, and Schneider Electrics. 

By uploading their project to [email protected], along with just 30 words on the reasons behind it, a great makeover prize can be won.”

Will Jones, chief operating officer of BHETA, added: “This is great news for BHETA and great news for BHETA members. With leading brand suppliers like QEP, Schneider Electric, Croydex, House of Mosaics, Nilfisk and Amtech (DK Tools) on board with NHIM, we will be working together to engage with consumers and stimulate retail sales throughout the autumn.”

Steve continued: “To ensure both suppliers and retailers get the most out of the NHIM campaign, there will be online features and coverage in national and regional consumer media, plus a full suite of social media - Instagram / Twitter / Pinterest / Facebook. NHIM also has a dedicated website of ideas and information, blogs and 'how to' videos. Marketing materials for merchants, retailers and wholesalers keen to join in include point of sale, posters, press ads, PR templates and social media opportunities.”

National Home Improvement Month is a BHETA initiative in a joint venture with The Relations Group which is a specialist broadcast PR company. 

For more information about getting involved with BHETA and National Home Improvement Month, contact Member Services at BHETA on 07946 078566 or email [email protected].

How many calories does DIY burn?

LEADING tool firm Draper Tools has lifted the lid on the consumer health benefits and the calories burnt during a range of home improvement jobs.

A national campaign is underway to promote the health and wellbeing benefits of DIY and gardening and Draper Tools is calling on retailers to get involved too by sharing some of the fascinating findings.  

Feeling the burn

According to the Draper Tools study, UK homeowners burn more than EIGHTY THOUSAND calories a year – by gardening and doing DIY. 

During a typical year, house proud Brits will spend 165 hours in total pottering around the garden and fixing up their dwellings. 

In that time, they will burn 6,384 kcals while weeding, 3,466 kcals when pruning and 3,852 kcals while watering the garden. Mowing the lawn might be considered more of a therapeutic task than a full workout, but adults manage to shed 4,199 calories a year doing just that. In the home itself, they’ll also burn 2,161 kcals when removing wallpaper, 4,145 kcals while painting walls and 433 kcals by hammering nails over the course of a year. 

Spreading the word

Commissioned to support the growing range of DIY & gardening essentials from Draper Tools, the study of 2,000 homeowners found many people were unaware of the potential health benefits of home improvements. 39 per cent of adults don’t tend to think of gardening as a way of exercising - and 57 per cent feel the same about DIY. 

However, with all the jobs in and around being done in Britain’s homes recently, half of those surveyed said it did feel like they've been working out more than normal. 

Kev Smith, Head of Marketing at Draper Tools said: “It just goes to show DIY and gardening are not only beneficial for the home, but also for overall health and wellbeing too. The amount burnt during a typical year is the equivalent of burning 349 Mars bars or 312 Big Macs – that’s a lot of food.” 

“In addition to being good for you physically, the research also found that DIY and gardening also helps many of those polled to relax and unwind too. It’s been fascinating learning just how far the benefits of home improvements really go.” 

“We’ve had a great response to the findings and would like to encourage retailers to share them with their customers too.” 

Hidden health benefits of everyday jobs

The study also found those polled will burn a total of 1,924 calories sawing items during a typical year, along with 1,293 while pressure washing and 588 as a result of building flat-pack furniture. 

Even smaller tasks such as painting items of furniture or filling in holes using a filler will see them shed 394 and 760 calories respectively. 

And they’ll also shave off 221 calories throughout the course of a typical 12-month period while putting shelves up and 702 when attaching pictures to walls. 

In the garden, those polled will burn 3,799 calories digging, 4,194 cutting branches from trees and 2,659 planting seeds and plants. 

Painting outdoor walls and fencing will shed 3,661 calories and carrying stones, wood, bags of compost, bags of soil and other heavy items will also burn 3,029 a year. 

Further to this, harvesting home grown fruit and vegetables will result in 3,118 calories being burnt off. 

Physical and mental wellbeing

The Draper Tools study carried out through OnePoll also found 73 per cent of homeowners consider gardening to be a nice way to de-stress and to relax and 47 per cent feel similarly about DIY.

As such, seven in 10 find they tend to get so lost in the task when improving the home and doing a spot of gardening they find hours can simply ‘disappear.’ 

In the same vein, more than half said they get so carried away they have a tendency to take fewer breaks than they would if they were at work. This may be because they take great pride in maintaining a nice home and garden - 67 per cent said doing a DIY or gardening job well is more satisfying than doing a good job at work. 

Kev Smith of Draper Tools added: “Many people have been trying out new home workouts recently but you could argue DIY and gardening can be just as effective at helping keep the nation active and healthy. However, as with more traditional exercise it’s important that people don’t overdo it and remember to take regular breaks.” 


  • Dead heading plants – 497 minutes and 3,047 kcals 
  • Pruning – 562 minutes and 3,466 kcals 
  • Watering the garden – 680 minutes and 3,852 kcals 
  • Planting seeds or plants – 476 minutes and 2,659 kcals 
  • Mowing the lawn – 707 minutes and 4,199 kcals 
  • Spraying insecticide - 189 and 1,125 kcals 
  • Adding mulch to flower beds – 261 minutes and 1,583 kcals 
  • Turning over soil - 319 minutes and 3,147 kcals 
  • Digging – 385 minutes and 3,799 kcals 
  • Heavy lifting such as carrying stones, wood, bags of compost, bags of soil etc. – 307 minutes and 3,029 kcals 29906 
  • Raking – 364 minutes and 3,592 kcals 
  • Painting walls/fence - 371 minutes and 3,661 kcals 
  • Cutting the hedge - 389 minutes and 3,838 kcals 
  • Cutting off branches - 425 minutes and 4,194 kcals 
  • Weeding  - 647 minutes and 6,384 kcals 
  • Harvesting  - 316 minutes and 3,118 kcals 
  • Hoeing - 321 minutes and 3,168 kcals 
  • Painting smaller objects like furniture - 82 minutes and 394 kcals                                
  • Filling-in holes (using Polyfilla or equivalent) – 158 minutes and 760 kcals           
  • Putting pictures up – 146 minutes and 702 kcals 
  • Putting shelves up – 46 minutes and 221 kcals 
  • Drilling holes – 57 minutes and 274 kcals 
  • Hammering nails – 99 minutes and 433 kcals 
  • Building flat-pack furniture - 123 minutes and 588 kcals                                                      
  • Varnishing items - 55 minutes and 264 kcals                                                        
  • Removing wallpaper -219 minutes and 2,161 kcals 
  • Painting walls – 420 minutes and 4,145 kcals 
  • Sawing items – 195 minutes and 1,924 kcals 
  • Sand down items - 93 minutes and 918 kcals                                          
  • Tile floors – 219 minutes and 2,161 kcals 
  • Tile walls - 295 minutes and 2,911 kcals                                            
  • Wallpaper a medium sized room – 272 minutes and 2,684 kcals 
  • Using a pressure washer - 131 minutes and 1,293 kcals

For more information on the campaign and the latest products and promotions from Draper Tools, please visit

Retailers can also request a free copy of the findings and a set of infographics to use on social media by emailing [email protected].   

CEA welcomes European Parliament engines vote

ON 10 July the European Parliament backed an amendment to the Stage V regulation (EU) 2016/1628 by 653 votes to 17.

The revised regulation will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and will take effect retroactively from 1 July 2020. It will be adopted automatically into UK law and applies to transition engines in the power categories <56kW and ≥130kW.

The revision delays the relevant deadlines for building machines installed with transition engines from 30 June 2020 to 30 June 2021 and for placing those machines on the market from 31 December 2020 to 31 December 2021.

The outcome comes after a painstaking lobbying process by a task force of European manufacturers’ organisations, including the Committee for European Construction Equipment (CECE) and the European federations for materials handling (FEM), garden machinery (EGMF) and agricultural equipment (CEMA). The problem was identified in March by the Construction Equipment Association when the initial problems with hold-ups in the supply chain caused by COVID-19 were reported. OEM reduced time working and factory closures followed within the next few weeks when it became certain that not all pre-Stage V engine stocks could be incorporated within completed machines by the end of June.

CEA chief executive Rob Oliver stated: “The original rules meant that even if manufacturers had engines ready and waiting to be installed unless they could be incorporated into the fully assembled machines by the deadline they would have to be scrapped. Our Senior Technical Consultant, Dale Camsell, did a great job as part of the industry team that worked with the European Commission and European Parliamentarians to navigate the intricacies of EU decision-making.

"Several official European forums had to be persuaded of the urgency of the problem and the fact that a postponement would not compromise the environmental objectives of the emission regulations. In the end, the case presented by CECE and our allies in other sectors finally got the necessary legal changes over the line. This has saved manufacturers across Europe significant sums at a time when businesses have been knocked sideways by COVID-19.”

The experience with engines in the mid-power bands may not be the end of the story. The deadlines for transition engines in the power categories ≥56kW and <130kW remain unchanged at 30 June 2021 and 31 December 2021. Industry representatives and the European Commission will be tracking the effect of COVID-19 on production and markets over the next few months to determine whether these deadlines need to be revisited.

FMB urges Chancellor to back local builders

AN economic package that increases demand for building work, protects jobs, and invests in training is needed to boost economic growth and save jobs, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) ahead of the Chancellor’s announcement on Wednesday.

The FMB is publishing an open letter to Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, setting out four key steps that will support the industry to build back better and greener.

This is all the more important as today’s UK Construction PMI data for June 2020 shows that employment has fallen at the end of the second quarter, and builders are registering only ‘cautious optimism’ with the rate of new order growth far weaker than seen for business activity.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The Chancellor must deliver on last week’s commitments to build back better and greener with a recovery package that places local builders at the heart. The FMB welcomed the Government’s unprecedented support measures for firms during the lockdown, and hopes for similar scale and creativity to protect local construction jobs and training opportunities.

“The four key interventions needed to support recovery in the SME construction sector include cutting VAT on repair and renovation works to 5% to boost activity. The Government must bring forward its pledged £9.2 billion investment in energy efficiency, underpinned by a national retrofit strategy to mobilise the market. As the Prime Minister recognised last week, building new homes is a great economic stimulus, and supporting local SME house builders will speed up delivery and drive up quality.

Finally, opportunities need to be created for apprentices, and given that local builders train the majority in construction, the Government needs to target information and financial support to them. Builders stand ready to build back better, but they need support to do so.”

Workers rejoice as PM relaxes social distancing rules

PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has announced today (23 June) that from 4 July, England will enter a new phase in lockdown.

Under the new, more relaxed restrictions called ‘one meter plus’, the public are advised to remain two meters apart wherever possible but will be allowed to be as close as one meter if using ‘mitigation’ (such as face coverings), and be allowed to stay overnight in other households.

Several types of business will also be opening, including pubs, restaurants and hairdressers.

Dan Daintry, co-director of PAL Hire, said: “This news will come as a welcome relief for many ordinary people around the country. For months now we have all been feeling the effects of isolation and social distancing and the ability to go to a pub, get our hair done or attend a wedding will be warmly welcomed come as a breath of fresh air.

“In some ways it’s a small step and we still have a way to go before we’re out of the woods. But psychologically it’s an extremely important one, getting everyone that much closer to a life that may have felt impossibly distant.”


  • Social distancing rules will apply from one meter rather than two, although two meters is still recommended where possible.
  • Two households of any size will be able to meet, indoors or outdoors, although this is not advised for more than two households.
  • In public, two households can meet regardless of six, although multiple households will only be able to meet in groups of up to six.
  • Pubs bars and restaurants (although not nightclubs) will be allowed to open, but only with a table service.
  • Places of worship will open and weddings will be allowed to have up to 30 attendees.
  • Hair dressers and barbers will be allowed to reopen although protective measures must still be taken.
  • Hotels, campsites and caravan parks will be allowed to open.

April has biggest drop in construction output on record

FIGURES released today by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show a more than 40% drop in construction output for April 2020 - the largest monthly drop since records began in January 2010.

The ONS says that this abrupt drop was driven by a 41.2% decrease in new work and a 38.1% decrease in repair and maintenance.

Clive Docwra, managing director of leading construction consulting and design agency McBains, said: “Today’s figures are further confirmation that the construction sector will face a hugely tough time to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Particular concerns are private new housing work seeing a third consecutive month of large decline, exacerbated by the COVID-19 lockdown on April and now at its lowest level for a decade – bad news for the industry but also for prospective homeowners given the housing shortage. 

"The record fall in private commercial new work also reflects the pause button being pressed on major projects.

“Hopefully today’s figures will represent the nadir given they cover the full month of lockdown, but while many large construction firms are now resuming work, many will still weakened by reduced order pipelines over the next few months.

“Firms are also experiencing labour shortages, supply chains are still operating extremely slowly and cashflow is becoming an increasingly pressing issue as cash reserves dry up.  

"The government needs to stimulate demand, for example through reducing VAT on repair and maintenance work.”

To read the statistics in full, click here.

Mental Health Awareness Week should be cancelled!

By Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Club

THE year we cancel Mental Health Awareness Week will be because the mental health of our workforce is treated as significantly and comes as naturally as ensuring their physical safety. It will come at a time when everyone in our industry is aware of the importance of good mental wellbeing, every operation has a mental health policy and the suicide rate in construction has been significantly reduced.

However, according to the recent CIOB survey, taken before the Covid-19 outbreak, we have a long way to go and the day we cancel Mental Health Awareness Week will not be anytime soon.

We need more companies to engage, accelerate and amplify our efforts to improve our workforce wellbeing. By following a simple five step guideline,  any company can embrace the change without considerable financial outlay.

  • Step 1: Commitment.  Management agree policy and sign up to treating mental health as a priority in their operation
  • Step 2: Access to an EAP. Everyone in the operation including all onsite subcontractors should have access to an Employee Assistance Programme. If  no scheme is available,  use our charity’s free  Construction Industry Helpline and supporting App.
  • Step 3: Start the conversation. Deliver regular on-site wellbeing toolbox talks to get people talking together
  • Step 4: Awareness. All people managers should attend an online or on-site Mental Health Awareness course.
  • Step 5: On Site Mental Health First Aiders. Every operation should have an onsite Mental Health First Aider in the same ratio as physical first aiders

Following this simple five step incurs little cost,  makes construction a more attractive place to work for the next generation and could ultimately save lives.  

However, if all else fails try adopting these 3 life principles:

  1. Always ask twice. Make eye contact, you don’t always get the true answer first time around 
  2. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.  Listen and don’t judge, easier said than done! And be the last to talk.
  3. Always be kind, there is no reason to be unkind even if you need to deliver a tough message it can be done in a humane way.

These three life principles are easy to say and difficult to follow, but if we did, the world would be a better place and Mental Health Awareness Week would be a thing of the past.

Find out more about the 5 Step guideline

New support tools for Checkatrade members through COVID crisis.

Checkatrade, one of the UK’s leading directories of recommended, vetted and monitored trade experts, has announced a number of new initiatives designed to support its trade members during this unprecedented period of lockdown.

It has promoted a new video calling function on its website - a first within the online trade directory market - enabling tradespeople and potential clients to more easily ‘meet’, discuss jobs and obtain quotes from the comfort of their own homes. This means jobs can be safely scoped in advance or booked-in ready for when restrictions are lifted.

Checkatrade has also partnered with Claritas Tax, an accountancy firm specialising in tax advisory and compliance services, to offer trade members practical advice on accessing the financial support available at this time. The guidance, available on the Checkatrade blog, covers three main areas; help for the self-employed, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and VAT deferment.

Checkatrade is offering its members financial support and new affiliate packages for the duration of lockdown to allow them to maintain or build their online profile at a fraction of the usual cost.

Mike Fairman, CEO at Checkatrade, said: “Our members work across a broad spectrum of industries. For some it’s business as usual, for others their pipeline of work has collapsed overnight, leading to huge financial uncertainty and untold stress.

"We’re committed to doing all we can to support them. With our members ranging from sole traders through to limited companies, it’s important that everyone has access to the best tools and sound advice so that risks are minimised and opportunities maximised.”

British Safety Council slams PM's 'reckless' message

THE British Safety Council has today demanded that no worker be forced back to their workplace until it has been made safe.

The Government has indicated that more people should be going to work and last night the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: “You should go to work if you can’t work from home and to ensure you are safe at work we have been working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces COVID-secure”.

The British Safety Council is providing support to employers with workers on the front line, including healthcare workers and essential workers in retail, manufacturing and construction. As well as providing direct support through the lockdown, the British Safety Council is developing new services to help organisations adapt as lock down restrictions are eased.

Speaking today from his home Mike Robinson, chief executive of the British Safety Council, said: “Yesterday’s announcement compounded a week of mixed messages that will put workers at risk – it is reckless to urge people back to work before clear guidance has been published and before employers have put in place plans to make workplaces safe.

"Instead of a phased plan, allowing managers to understand and interpret guidance, anxious workers are going to be piling back on to public transport without any clear rules and guidance. We are working to help our members and customers to carry out proper risk assessments, but the confusing messages from government are not helping anyone.

“We will look in detail at the guidance when available, and we are working closely with members to ensure that employers carry out their duty to ensure workers are safe, whether that’s at home, travelling to and from work and in their place of work. I know that most people are keen to get back to work and back to some normality, but if we follow this chaotic approach, we risk undermining all the hard work achieved through the lock down.

"In a national emergency there is a strong instinct to give the government the benefit of the doubt – but they need to sort this mess out. When the guidance is published it must put the safety of workers front and centre and end the current confusion.”

Construction workers 'should be actively encouraged to go to work', says PM

LAST night (Sunday 10 May), the Prime Minister delivered a speech updating the UK on the government's position on the lockdown in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

He announced that those who are not able to work from home, explicitly citing those in the construction sector as an example, 'should be actively encouraged to go to work' as long as it was safe and the workers were able to avoid public transport.

Durnig the address, the Prime Minister also announced that the Government would look into re-opening schools for children of certain age groups from June, and that from Wednesday the rules of only being allowed outside for one hour of exercise per day were to be relaxed from this Wednesday.

Under previous guidance, UK construction companies have not been required to close so far. Yet the Prime Minister's speech is the most high-profile endorsement of such businesses returning to work so far.

However, the Prime Minister has come under fire for the address, with some critics calling the guidance 'vague'.

The devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all distanced themselves from Boris Johnson's new 'Stay Alert' message, insisting 'Stay At Home' should be the overriding message to the public.

In Scotland, where non-essential construction work remains banned, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said after the Prime Minister's address: “I think it is incumbent on him to stress that when he is talking about lifting these restrictions […] he is talking for England.”

More details of the Government's lockdown recovery plan are expected when the government releases guidance later today.


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