Focus on the small jobs
The cost of materials for large home renovations such as loft conversions and extensions is skyrocketing. Prices change all the time, but figures from the Office for National Statistics show they are on average 26% higher than a year ago. During this period, the cost of steel bars, for example, increased by approximately 58%.
However, you don’t need to expand your loft or replace your kitchen to transform your home. You can focus on small jobs such as replacing doors, handles and faucets, and painting wooden cabinets and tables for a new look. There are plenty of money-saving bloggers and upcycling influencers like @crack_the_shutters, @joannecondon and Shoestring Cottage who can inspire.
Joanne Condon, author of Furniture Crush and recycling expert, says: “As the new work-from-home trend collides with the rising cost of living, we need to consider how we can make better use of our homes without spending a fortune.
“We also need to think about multifunctional uses when we think about the things we already have in our homes. For example, old drawers can turn into mini herb gardens, flower pots, pet beds, and wall shelves. You can recycle a cabinet into a pantry press or bookcase by putting it away.
Buy ex-display or used
If you want to take on a big job, you can buy old showroom kitchens and bathrooms at a fraction of their original price. The Used Kitchen Company offers a wide range of ex-display kitchens and bathrooms. For example, a kitchen listed had an RRP of £21,000 but was sold for £7,900.
Here you can also sell your old units and furniture on the website, or try eBay and Facebook Marketplace. You can find used bathrooms on these sites and save on items like new faucets and showerheads.
Lisa Webb, consumer law expert at consumer association Which?, says: “Buying a second-hand kitchen is an environmentally friendly way to cut costs.
“However, you should make sure you check all the dimensions before you buy and arrange a visit to check the kitchen yourself, inside and out.
“Be aware that if you buy from a private seller you have less protection than when you buy from a trader – the goods must be as described but they must not disclose any faults.
“Be sure to check any problems carefully when you see the kitchen and – if you find a fault and decide to go ahead with the purchase – find out if it will be cheap to fix it, because you don’t want to not pay more than should correct any material defect.
Plan your projects carefully
Get at least three quotes to compare the cost of any professional work and ask for the total price, including all fixtures and fittings. Also confirm in writing the schedule and the cost of the whole project, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.
The cost of the project will depend on several factors, including where you live, the amount of work needed, and the size of your home. MyBuilder.com lists guide prices for standard projects such as loft extensions and double glazing jobs.
Noble Francis, Economics Director of the Construction Products Association, says, “Plan ahead and purchase the materials needed for the job to avoid delays and cost increases. The more materials you or the builder go to buy from the merchant on the day of the project, the higher the cost will be.
If you’re buying multiple new fixtures and accessories, take the time to shop around and negotiate a package, with everything you need to install the parts as well.
Choose the right funding for your work
How you finance home renovations depends on the cost of the project. If you paint your house, you may be able to fund the cost with your savings. Alternatively, some or all of the cost could be charged to a credit card under a 0% interest agreement for purchases, provided you can get a large enough credit limit.
For example, Sainsbury’s Bank, M&S Bank and Barclaycard currently offer new applicants up to 24 months interest-free on purchases.
Andrew Hagger of financial site MoneyComms.co.uk explains: “You will also have Section 75 protection on any purchase over £100 and under £30,000. So if you have any issues or disputes that you can’t resolve, you can ask your credit card provider to help.
If you need to borrow up to £25,000, you can check out unsecured personal loans. Rates remain low, between 3.1% and 3.5% for the most advantageous loans, provided you have a good credit rating. You won’t pay any setup fees, unlike mortgages. For example, if you borrow £20,000 over five years from Tesco Bank at 3.2%, you will need to repay £360.74 per month. In total, you would repay £21,644.
If you’re borrowing more than £25,000, the cheapest option for many people is probably a remortgage. If you’re coming to the end of your current mortgage contract, you can remortgage to free up equity and grab a fixed rate deal before interest rates go up.
Check Energy Efficiency Grants
As energy bills soar, you may be thinking about insulating your home as the winter months approach. You can do this for free if you are with a major energy supplier, receive certain benefits and have an annual income of £16,190 or less.
Under the Energy Company Obligation program, some people can get free or heavily subsidized attic and wall insulation if they claim special benefits. A full list of eligible benefits can be found here. You can check if you qualify using the Simple Energy Advice calculator in England or Wales, or contact Home Energy Scotland.
Once you have checked if you are eligible, you will need to contact your provider to arrange a survey. Either you will have the insulation installed for free or you will receive a grant to cover some or all of the costs.
For the full list of providers registered with the scheme, visit Ofgem’s website.