The Real Cost of Living: Home Improvements

13 Apr 2015 | Comments: 0 | Author: Ryan Smith | The Real Cost of Living

Springtime is the point in the year where UK households go home improvement crazy. Not content to just spring clean homes, people want to re-do and renovate in time for the summer months.

But re-decorating doesn’t have to break the bank, so there’s no need to consult your financial advisor if you’re hoping to re-paint the living room.

At Local Financial Advice we want to ensure that you’re staying financially savvy in all aspects of your life, not just at key life events and so, we dug into our money-saving tool kit to offer you some of our best home improvement tips:

Do It Yourself

One of the biggest ways of saving money on your home improvements is to pick up the paintbrushes or the tool kit yourself. Not only will you save on paying the labour costs of traders, you’ll also achieve an even greater sense of satisfaction once the job is done.

But if you get scared simply at the sight of a drill, there may be local courses that will teach you the basics. Yes, there will be an initial cost for these, but once you know the basics they should save you much more than the cost of the course in the long run.

Companies such as The Goodlife Centre in London run beginners workshops in DIY, upholstery, woodwork and more. It’s also worth checking whether there are courses run by your local council. You can even find tutorial videos for most simple DIY tasks on Youtube or elsewhere online these days.

Just make sure that for bigger jobs, you don’t need planning permission or certification to do the work.

Take care choosing a contractor

As much as DIY can save you money, it’s important to know your limits. Certain jobs will just be too complex for many people to tackle themselves, and that’s when you’ll need to pick up the phone and hire a trader.

We’ve all heard horror stories about ‘Cowboy Builders’ and the like, and accidentally hiring someone unscrupulous will no doubt end up costing much more than originally intended. If possible, go with a tradesperson that you’ve been recommended by somebody you trust.

If this isn’t possible, be wary of anybody you can’t trace to a specific address, or that asks you for money upfront. A website such as RatedPeople will also have reviews of local tradespeople in your area.

It’s also worth shopping around when it comes to your contractors. A Which? members survey found that those surveyed saved an average £646, so it can make a huge difference, especially on any larger jobs you may have.

And don’t forget to haggle! You can use quotes from other contractors or prices from similar jobs that friends or family may have had done in the past in order to try and get a better deal.

Shop Smart

If you don’t need something right this minute, wait: the same Which? report showed members saved an average £140 by waiting for sales before buying furniture or other products they might need for redecorating.

Similarly, if you’re not ready to get started right now, but intend to in the near future it could be worth stocking up on some of the DIY items you’ll need while there are sales on, and storing them until they’re required.

Typically, DIY products are discounted around April, while garden furniture tends to drop in price around October, with kitchen and other household appliances going on sale in the first quarter of the year.

You may also benefit by skipping the big DIY superstores such as B&Q and Homebase, and heading straight to a builders’ merchant. While many of them will only allow you to purchase if you are a member of trade, others are open to the public and can get you some great savings compared to the bigger shops. Just don’t pretend that you are in the trade, as this can heavily affect your rights if there are any problems.

Home improvement can really give your property a new lease of life. Many more people are living by the motto “Don’t move, improve” and choosing to stay in their homes and invest in them, rather than moving elsewhere. But those investments don’t always have to be huge, and there are easy ways to save money on your home improvements that don’t require you to go running to your financial advisor for assistance.