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DIY (do-it-yourself) home improvement in New Zealand

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Do-it-yourself home improvement (DIY) is considered a defining characteristic of ‘Kiwi’ identity and the New Zealand way-of-life, with a 2009 home improvement advertisement boasting that DIY is “in our DNA”. Since at least the 1950s, the national enthusiasm for DIY has spawned a major and multifarious home improvement industry which includes DIY television shows, home improvement manuals and magazines, ‘how-to’ websites and hardware megastores, with DIY retail sales alone estimated at NZ$1 billion per year. Yet despite the obvious cultural and economic significance of DIY in New Zealand, the home improvement practices of New Zealand homeowners are not well-researched or understood. To address the research gap, this thesis presents a naturalistic and exploratory study of the DIY practices of 27 Christchurch homeowners. To support the study, a synthesis of the international academic DIY literature is presented along with a brief history of DIY in New Zealand. DIY activity emerges in the study as a complex and multifaceted phenomenon involving property owners conceptualising, planning and executing a range of practical ‘projects’ associated with the production, maintenance and consumption of ‘home’. The deployment of a range of social science theories helps to demonstrate that the outcome of peoples’ home improvement activities is the ‘DIYed home’ – a socially and physically constructed place – ‘personalised’, ‘adapted’ and to be ‘enjoyed’.
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