The days of getting someone in to do all those jobs around the house are over, with more and more of us tackling even tricky plumbing jobs ourselves in a bid to save money. Find out how to be Mr Fix-It on a fixed budget with these DIY tips…
1. Get advice before you start
Jobs that appear simple can be anything but. Drill through a pipe by mistake and you’ve a massive repair bill on your (very wet) hands.
Before attempting a job, find out if your local DIY store has a guide available on how to do it (they do for most regular home improvements). Ask for DIY tips and advice online, and from friends and family who’ve attempted it before.
2. Get tools on the cheap
Some tools are worth investing in as they will last you for years – such as hammers and chisels – but power tools can be rented instead of bought if you’re not a regular DIYer. Companies such as HSS offer professional tool hire – perfect for weekend jobs.
If you’re buying smaller equipment like saws and drills, make sure you shop around for the best prices online, and be wary of second-hand electrical equipment if you don’t know the seller and are not familiar with a product.
Tool hire schemes, Freecycle and Pound Shops can all be sources of DIY bargains
Car boot sales are good place to find used quality tools too.
3. Save money on materials
The big DIY stores aren’t always the best. For DIY essentials such as nuts, bolts and masking tape, it’s worth checking out your local Pound Shop.
Buying in bulk is the best way to cut the costs of materials such as paint and wood – so see if you can club together online with other local DIYers to place a large order, by placing a notice on messageboards such as Gumtree or your local newspaper site.
Look out for leftover materials offered gratis on Freecycle too – you will often see spare paint, tiles, MDF and other useful off-cuts going begging, if you’re not fussy about colours and styles.
4. Cut the cost of carpet fitters
If you’re having carpet fitted, try and buy and fit your own carpet underlay – carpet companies charge a huge mark-up on completing this relatively simple job. If you can do this yourself, you’ll save a packet.
Use a sharp Stanley knife to cut the underlay to size, and beg or borrow a staple gun to hold it in place. If you need carpet edging strips you can buy these cheaply online – they often go for next to nothing on eBay.
5. Store your DIY gear correctly
Store tools somewhere safe and dry, so they don’t succumb to rust (and shed burglars!) and sharpen your drill bits, chisels and saws before you use them to avoid breakages.
One top tip for prolonging the life of paint is to store cans upside-down (tightly sealed of course) as this creates a vacuum and stops air from drying out the paint.
Wind up electrical cables correctly and tape into position so you don’t end up with kinks and knots that can break the wires inside.
6. Avoid common mistakes
Cover furniture and carpets carefully while painting. Even spilling a small amount of paint on a carpet can be a costly mistake.
Check for any hidden pipes or wires behind your walls with a detector, and you’ll avoid a very expensive accident with your drill! Most DIY stores sell cheap detectors for this purpose.
Check and recheck any measurements before you start sawing up your materials to avoid wastage.
7. Get adequate insurance
You may not be covered for DIY accidents in your home so always check your home insurance policy before you start any jobs.
Research by AXA Insurance found that DIY blunders cost homeowners an average of £900 in repairs, if they’re not covered for accidental damage.
8. Know your limitations
It’s illegal to undertake any work on electrical wiring or gas installation yourself – and you risk prosecution (not to mention a serious accident) if you attempt it.
It’s illegal to undertake any work on electrical wiring or gas installation yourself
If you carry out extensive structural work without planning permission, or without adhering to the proper building regulations, you could face a fine and be forced to pay professionals to undo your work. You could also devalue your property.
9. Pick the right jobs
If you enjoy tinkering about with things and generally get a kick out of DIY for the sake of it, then choose jobs which will add value to your home or save money on energy bills.
Bleeding radiators, clearing drains, insulating pipes and tanks, excluding draughts and preserving wood on sheds and decking are all useful tasks which will save you money in the short- and long-term.
10. Don’t be fooled by tradesmen
If you do decide you can’t DIY and call in a tradesman, avoid costly mistakes by making sure they’re a member of a professional body.
Beware of anyone offering a cash upfront discount, or a VAT-free deal, and always get an agreement in writing.
Be sure to demand an itemised bill so you know exactly what you are forking out for.
Need to spread the cost of DIY?
The average household in Britain spends £352 a year on DIY – but many of us spend considerably more. If you’ve got a big job that needs doing (but you’re worried about the expense) you may want to spread the cost of your home improvements with a loan or with a credit card.
Credit cards offer extra protection
If you pay for expensive goods or services with a credit card, you get an extra layer of protection if items are faulty, are damaged, don’t arrive, or the company you ordered from goes bust.
Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act means that your credit card company MUST protect you whenever you buy anything worth £100 or more on plastic. So if something goes wrong, you won’t have any problem getting your money back.
However if you’re putting your DIY costs on plastic, always make sure you can pay it off so you don’t get hit with interest charges (we’ve rounded up the five top credit card pitfalls to avoid).
What’s your best money-saving DIY tip? Let us know below!