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How to save money on your home improvements in 2018

As new data shows that many of us would like to spend less on our homes this year, we reveal our top five tips for cutting back your budget

Between 20% and 30% of people would like to spend less on home improvements in 2018 than they did in 2017, according to a study by Plentific.com, while less than 20% plan on spending more. 

The research, conducted in January 2018, asked 2,001 homeowners to reflect on their home improvement plans for the next 12 months, and asked where they are aiming to spend and where they would like to save. Across all areas of home improvement, including kitchens, bathrooms, interior design and others, more people wanted to spend less than wanted to spend more in 2018.

While 15% of homeowners would like to spend more on their kitchen this year, 27% would like to spend less. For bathroom improvements, 15% would like to spend more, while 25% would like to spend less. When it comes to investing in smart appliances, the numbers are even further apart – 9% would like to spend more here, while 28% want to spend less. The biggest difference is for conservatories, where only 5% of people expressed an interest in spending more and 32% of people would like to spend less.

It seems that homeowners are tightening their belts when it comes to spending on their interiors. However, if you’d like to improve your home but are concerned about your budget, there’s plenty you can do to ensure that you still achieve the results you want, while keeping a close eye on your finances.

We’ve got lots of advice on how to get the most out of your budget – read on for our top five money-saving tips:

1. Shop around for a kitchen

Plentific.com found that, compared with 2017, more than a quarter of people planned to spend less on their kitchens this year. At the end of last year, we visited major kitchen retailers such as John Lewis, Magnet and Wren Kitchens and asked for quotes for a pre-designed kitchen layout, to see whether the cost varied between branches.

We found some significant variations between branches, depending on the discounts that the salesperson applied. That means that if you are interested in a particular kitchen from a brand, you could make savings by visiting more than one branch.

Sometimes extras are added onto standard kitchens, such as cornicing or soft-close hinges, which you may not have asked for. These kinds of finishing touches are nice to have, but if you’re trying to cut back on spending it’s worth checking what has been added and how that affects your final quote. Make sure the quote you get is itemised as fully as possible, so that you can spot things you may not need.

We surveyed more than 2,000 kitchen owners to ask them for their money-saving tips. To find out what they said, and to see more expert advice, visit our guide to kitchen costs.

2. Choose your bathroom brand wisely

25% of homeowners want to spend less on their bathrooms this year than in 2017. We asked 2,391 bathroom owners about their experiences of buying and fitting a bathroom, and ranked major UK brands, including B&Q, Bathstore, Victoria Plum and Wickes, on key aspects such as customer service, quality of products and value for money. Only one got five stars for value for money.

Which? bathroom expert, Liz Ransome-Croker, says: ‘it’s worth researching bathroom brands before you commit to one. In our survey, the top-scoring brand got a customer score of 82%, while the bottom scored only 52%. Some brands were found to be very average for key ratings such as customer service and quality of finish.’

To help you choose where to spend your money, visit our guide to the best and worst bathroom brands.

If you’d like to update your bathroom without the cost of a full renovation, head to our guide to planning a bathroom, which has plenty of ideas for refreshing your space on a budget, such as cleaning up mouldy-looking grout and touching up tiles with special paints.

3. Decide what smart tech is worth buying

Homeowners are more hesitant to spend on smart appliances this year. Many smart products, such as ovens, washing machines and fridge freezers, are still in their infancy, which could explain why people don’t want to commit their cash to pricey products that may not live up to expectation.

However, some smart appliances do offer helpful functionality. If you’re considering connected products, think about how much you’ll use them and what you need the extra functions for. It could be that the extra functionality is also available on a cheaper, non-connected product – for example, there are good-value Best Buy washing machines with time-delay features that mean your laundry is ready and waiting for you when you come home, so you may not need one that’s app-connected.

Read our guide to smart home appliances to help you decide whether to splash out or to save.

4. Avoid overspending on your conservatory

Almost a third of the people questioned in Plentific.com’s survey plan on spending less on conservatories this year. If you’d like to extend your home but want to keep costs down, we’ve got plenty of tips to help you make the right choices.

When we surveyed conservatory owners, we found that 11% of them ended up paying more than their initial quote. To make sure you avoid falling into the same traps, head to our guide to conservatory prices. We’ve got information on the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) latest conservatory cost data, money-saving advice on heating and cooling your conservatory and suggestions to make sure you avoid unexpected bills.

Choosing the right company to carry out the work is essential for a stress-free project – always choose a member of The Conservatory Association and, if possible, a Which? Trusted Trader.

5. Invest in the right DIY equipment

Finally, you may find that for small tweaks around the house you can save cash by carrying out the work yourself. If that’s the case, it’s worth researching the power tools you need, to make sure that you’re able to get through your projects quickly and easily. Whether you’re after electric screwdrivers, drills, jigsaws, circular saws or sanders, read through our buying guides to ensure you get the best results, whatever it is you’re improving around your home.

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