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7 ways to save money on home improvements

Our money-saving tips to cut the costs of your next home improvements project

The cost of living crisis is squeezing household budgets, meaning many of us are cutting back on costs as much as possible. This could mean abandoning any home improvements projects that aren't strictly necessary, such as redecorating, installing a new kitchen or bathroom, or building an extension. 

There are plenty of ways to save money on home improvements, though. We’ve rounded up our top money-saving tips below. 

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1. Practice good maintenance to delay big refurbishments

A regular and efficient cleaning routine will prolong the lives of your furniture and appliances, delaying the need to pay for replacements. 

Our top kitchen maintenance tips include simple tasks such as:

  • cleaning the sink and taps regularly – a grubby, stained sink automatically looks older
  • using your cooker hood to avoid condensation build-up
  • moving your kettle out from underneath your kitchen cabinets before boiling it, as the steam could lead to cabinets going mouldy, warping or rotting.

Similarly, our maintenance tips to keep your bathroom in good shape involve:

  • cleaning tile grouting
  • promptly drying off any puddles of water on the floor
  • not installing bathroom carpet, as it can trap moisture and lead to mould and mildew developing. 

Clean, fully functional appliances, surfaces and pipes will make your home more pleasant and save you money, as fewer repairs and refurbishments will be necessary.

2. Shop around for deals if you're not in a hurry to buy

Fitted furniture for kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms frequently goes on sale. There are traditional peak sales periods – post-Christmas, around Easter and over summer – but other deals pop up across the year too. 

Get quotes from multiple suppliers and be prepared to wait until exactly what you want goes on sale.  

Double-check what is included in any deal, as retailers can run multiple promotions simultaneously, so figuring out what the cheapest option is can be confusing.

3. Plan carefully to avoid costs spiralling

Good advance planning can help you save money. When installing a kitchen, plan ahead and reduce kitchen costs by doing the following: 

  • Give existing kitchen components a new lease of life – by repainting your cabinets, for example (more on this later).
  • Choose less-expensive materials.
  • Negotiate a package with other units and elements.
  • Source parts yourself online.
  • Shop around for a fitter – Which? Trusted Traders can help you narrow down your search to those we've vetted.
  • Fit the kitchen yourself, if you have the skills. 

For larger projects such as building a conservatory, extension, or loft conversion, make sure you have an agreed quote and timeframe with the builder. It should include clearly defined conditions for what happens if the price of materials increases during the course of the project.

Grey gloss kitchen cabinets along two walls of a k

Think hard about any added extras, too. When buying a new fitted kitchen, for example, you could pay extra for:

  • soft-close hinges 
  • end panels 
  • fillers 
  • cornices 
  • upstands (a small splashback that adjoins the worktop and kitchen wall).

Consider what you will actually use, and which options are worth the additional cost.  

These decisions come down to your perspective on the look of your kitchen versus the cost, as, for example, end panels are a purely aesthetic option.

4. Choose a good brand to ensure you get value for money

Buying fitted units and larger furniture from reliable, high-quality brands can help save you money in the long term, as the products should last longer.  

Our kitchen recommendations include stress test ratings done in a lab, to see how durable a kitchen will be over years of drawers and cupboards being opened and shut.  

Similarly, we evaluate the best and worst bathroom brands based on their durability, overall quality and the quality of finish, such as scuffs and marks. 

And our ratings for the best sofa shops includes scores for comfort and quality of frame for sofas from a variety of brands.

5. Could you get away with a lighter refurb?

Instead of a major overhaul of your home, try some smaller, cheaper, updates and tweaks to your surroundings.  

Rather than fitting an entirely new kitchen, for example, search builders’ merchants, local kitchen manufacturers and specialist companies for new kitchen unit doors, worktops and drawer fronts. This will be considerably cheaper than buying all new but will still refresh the appearance of your kitchen. 

Repainting a room can bring it a new lease of life, without crippling your wallet. Try a new, brighter colour, or, if you're feeling creative, paint a wall mural.  

Discover the best washable paint brands for parts of your home that are most likely to get splashed or stained. 

And our kitchen ideas guide includes tips on how to paint your kitchen cabinets, a task that you could set aside some time to learn and complete over a weekend.

Switching in some new light bulbs and putting up a new mirror can transform the atmosphere of your bathroom. Find out more about updating a bathroom on a budget.

6. Consider doing some of the work yourself

Bathroom fitter installing a bathroom mirror

Consider the tasks and skills necessary for an installation or update and try doing some of it yourself, if you have the skills and confidence, rather than paying someone else to do it.

However, don’t take any chances with gas or electrics, and it’s always best to hire a professional if you are not confident about anything. Use a Which? Trusted Trader to ensure you don’t get stung by an unscrupulous trader.   

6. Buy tools and DIY products in sales

Tools and DIY products often go on sale, both in store and online. If the task you're doing is not urgent, try waiting for a promotion. 

Find out which stores customers rated the best DIY and decorating shops, including scores for value for money and product availability. 

And read our guide to power tool brands compared, to find out which brands our Which? Trusted Traders rated best.

7. Consider buying second-hand

If you're installing a new kitchen, then a second-hand (previously installed in someone’s house) or ex-display kitchen (that has only been in a showroom) could be ideal. It’s also a sustainable option, as it prevents a kitchen ending up in landfill. 

Be sure to check what you're getting (look over it in person, ideally) so you're not stuck with something damaged. Private sellers aren't obliged to draw attention to defects. 

For full details on what to look out for if considering this option, read our articles 'should you buy a second-hand kitchen?' and 'what are my rights when buying second-hand goods?'

Second-hand options are available for plenty of home additions. For example, our endorsed Which? Trusted Traders sell refurbished stairlifts, which can offer savings of up to 65% compared with buying new.