How to pay less for home improvements

Updated on 16 July 2014

Find out how to make valuable home improvements to your home without spending a fortune.

Plan ahead

 Plan your project

You’ll need to decide exactly what you want doing in your home as well as work out how much this is likely to cost.

Websites such as My Deco make it easier to figure out exactly what you want done. It has a 3D tool that allows you upload photos of your own rooms – so you can play around with different colour schemes and furniture to get a good idea of what your home could look like.

The online version of BBC Homes magazine also lets you easily search by room to track down different makeover styles.

Meanwhile, websites such as growyourhome.com and whatprice.co.uk can help you to get an idea of the costs of your project so you’ll be able to budget for it.

Read The cost of home improvements to find out more about how much you should budget for.

Start saving early

However big or small your home improvements are, putting some money aside into a savings account on a regular basis will give you a nest egg to fall back on when it comes to paying!

Make sure this savings account pays a decent rate of interest, but also allows easy access so you can get at your cash.

Paying for your project

Get cashback

If you can afford to pay off your credit card balance in full each month, use a cashback credit card to make your purchases. That way you’ll earn money back for each £1 you spend! Just make sure you definitely pay off the balance in full each month otherwise you’ll be hit with a hefty interest rate which will far outweigh any cashback benefits.

And if you’re keen on earning cash back, why not use a cashback website such as Quidco and TopCashback if you’re making any purchases online? Every time you buy from a retailer via one of these sites, your purchase is tracked, and a commission is paid to the cashback website – that commission is then passed back to you.

Compare cashback credit cards

Pay no interest on your purchases

If you know you won’t be able to pay off your credit card bill in full each month, use a 0% new purchases credit card instead. That way, you’ll pay no interest on the purchases you make.

Just remember to either pay off the balance when the interest-free period runs out, or move it all over to a 0% balance transfers card.

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Find out if you’re eligible for Government funding

If you’re elderly or disabled, you may be able to get Government funding to help you with your home improvements. Alternatively, you may eligible for help with the costs of eco-friendly home improvements.

Check out websites such as Citizens Advice and the Energy Saving Trust to find out more about what is available.

Borrowing

If the improvements you’re carrying out are going to add significant value to your property, it can be worth borrowing the money to pay for them.

One option to consider is taking out a personal loan. The advantage of this is that the interest rates can be much lower than borrowing via a credit card or overdraft, and crucially, the loan isn't secured against your home.

For larger jobs – say around £20,000 – you could take out a secured loan (also sometimes known as a second charge mortgage) which are available to homeowners, and are secured on your property. Just be warned that putting your home at risk when you take out one of these loans.

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Alternatively, you could remortgage or take out a further advance to raise the money to fund your home improvements, assuming you have sufficient equity in your property.

If you remortgage you usually change your mortgage to another deal (with the same lender or another), at the same time increasing your borrowing to release equity. With a further advance, your existing lender usually increases your mortgage allowing you to release equity, but your mortgage deal remains the same. Just bear in mind you’re putting your home at risk, so make sure you keep up your repayments.

Save money on your builder

Do it yourself!

If there’s a job you think you can manage yourself, check out homeimprovementadvice.co.uk for advice on making big and small home improvements. You can also take a look at letsfixit.co.uk which offers useful technical hints and tips and ultimatehandyman.co.uk has a helpful DIY forum.

Get at least three quotes

If you’re hiring a builder, make sure you shop around and obtain at least three quotes to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Sites such as mybuilder.com, myHammer, problemsolved.co.uk and which? local are good places to find peer-to-peer recommended builders, or the Federation of Master Builders lists qualified tradesmen in your area. Read Avoid being ripped-off by a cowboy tradesman for more help.

Haggle

Once you’ve got a range of quotes to hand, use the lowest quote as a bargaining tool to see whether other builders will lower their price further.

Save money on fixtures and fittings

Revamp your kitchen cupboards

If your kitchen is looking a bit shabby, you don’t have to replace the entire thing. It’s easy to replace dated or grubby kitchen cupboard doors, handles and worktops by visiting Larks & Larks or Ikea which both sell a wide range of kitchen items at reasonable prices.

Alternatively, use specialised paint to add a touch of colour to your kitchen unit doors.

See what you can get for free

If you’re on a tight budget, take a look at websites such as Freecycle, Freegle and SnaffleUp to find free second hand furniture. Gumtree is also worth a look for cheap furniture.

Check out auction sites

Check out websites such as eBay, eBid and Amazon Marketplace to hunt down homeware bargains!

If you’re looking for electrical items, browse the Clearance Comet website – an online auction house for white and electrical goods in a variety of conditions.

Furniture auction houses are also worth a look, and if you’re after a character piece at a budget price, have a look at house clearance outlets, charity shops and architectural salvage yards.

Out with the old

Make way for your new furniture by having a clear out. Decluttering your home can make it look far more spacious and clearing out old furniture and appliances doesn’t have to cost the earth.

The Furniture Re-use Network assists charitable re-use organisations across the UK, and they’ll collect unwanted furniture and white goods - without charge - to give to families in need.

You could also offer it up on Freecycle, Freegle and SnaffleUp  and anyone who wants it will come and collect it. Alternatively, give your local council a ring. Many councils will actually collect several items for free.

Dye your furnishings

If some of the fabrics in your home are looking a little worn, why not dye them? Everything from bed sets and cushion covers to throws and curtains can be transformed. What’s more, it’s a great way to disguise marks and stains on pale materials.

Check out DYLON fabric dyes to find a suitable colour!

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