Easter is the biggest time of year for home improvements, which can be an expensive business. But there are ways to cut the costs and Which? members manage to save hundreds with some savvy techniques.
Some of them saved more than £1,000 by doing the work themselves, others saved hundreds of pounds by haggling.
We know because every month, we survey thousands of Which? members to find out how they save money on certain bills, tasks or everyday purchases. You can see the full range of our members’ money-saving by subscribing to Which? Money magazine.
In December 2014, we asked members how they cut the cost of improving or maintaining their homes.
Among the 1,581 who replied were DIY novices learning new jobs, traders sharing tips and tough negotiators battling high quotes. They took on jobs ranging from repainting window frames to gutting and refurbishing houses. Their average estimated savings were £469.
Here’s a selection of their best ideas.
How to cut the cost of home improvements
Time your purchases
If you’re not in a rush to get started, wait for a sale. Which? members saved an average of £140 by doing this.
We heard from members who saved thousands on materials by buying them before they needed them in a half-price sale.
Some took advantage of B&Q’s Diamond Club, which offers 10% off on Wednesdays to over-60s. The club is free to join at diy.com.
Easter is the next big period for DIY sales, so look out for offers.
Find out more: Best time to get a deal – our calendar shows when certain products are likely to be on sale
Trade off the traders
Which? members saved an average of £646 by shopping around. It can make a big difference, especially on larger jobs.
We heard from a member who paid just over £11,000 for roof repairs, despite initially being quoted £25,000 by another firm, showing that the savings can be astronomical.
A lot of members found they were able to obtain lower quotes by searching for local traders, instead of those from a national chain.
It’s always worth trying to haggle on quotes as well, ideally by obtaining quotes from competitors or using the price of similar jobs previously completed on friends’ or families’ homes.
Find out more: How to haggle – our pointers on haggling etiquette
Do it yourself
The principle is simple: do it yourself and the labour is free.
Members who got in touch to tell us about their DIY jobs saved an average of £1,100 by completing their handiwork.
Of course, we’re not all professional traders and riskier jobs must be inspected and certified.
Nevertheless, we heard from members who used online tutorials to learn new skills and a few who were comfortable doing the work themselves – then paying a professional to check it.
Find out more: DIY repairs – 10 home maintenance jobs you can do yourself
Use trade shops
It’s possible to avoid retailers, such as B&Q and Homebase, and go to builders’ merchants or trade outlets for tools and materials instead.
Which? members save an average of £50 by doing this, but we heard from some members who saved thousands by taking advantage of the wholesale prices on offer.
Never pretend to be a trader. If you do, there could be implications, such as your rights being affected if you need to return goods.
Find out more: DIY reviews – hundreds of DIY tools tested and reviewed