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Many Americans misunderstand how much physical labor and skill is required for most construction jobs. Heavily edited home-improvement television shows that blur the line between reality and entertainment have skewed homeowner perceptions and fueled an increase in DIY home renovations. Many of these projects are not successful, with homeowners learning the hard way that improvement projects are not as easy as they appear on TV. A study from ImproveNet found that one-third of homeowners who attempted DIY renovations called professionals to correct their botched projects.

To find out how large a disconnect there is between consumers and contractors and to learn which trade jobs are the most grueling and hardest to learn, CraftJack, a service that matches home improvement professionals with homeowners, surveyed 1,609 contractors and 652 consumers, asking each to rank 32 types of contractor work from most to least physically grueling and from easiest to most difficult to master. While answers were similar on most trades, consumers seemed to undervalue the physical demands of carpentry work in particular.

Both consumers and contractors identified roofing and demolition as the two most physically demanding jobs associated with home renovation. However, while contractors ranked carpentry as the third most physically demanding job, consumers perceived drywall and insulation as the third most physically demanding job and carpentry barely cracked consumers' top 10.

Contractors did not perceive painting, carpet cleaning, or electrical work to be physically demanding, unless it was the respondent's specialty. Conversely, carpentry was viewed by both carpenters and non-carpenters as one of the most physically demanding trades.

More agreement was found between consumers and contractors with regards to ranking trades based on their difficulty. Both consumers and contractors rated electrical work, carpentry, and HVAC as the most difficult skills to master.

Flooring and cleaning specialists were more likely to identify their own crafts as tougher to master than other contractors. Carpentry, however, was viewed as one of the most difficult trades to master by both carpenters and non-carpenters.