9 Top tips for saving money on your next property project

Toby Sloley

Guest post from builder and blogger Toby Sloley.

**Warning: most of these tips will involve getting your hands dirty!**

If you are a practical sort of person, or someone who is just happy to roll your sleeves up, there are tons of ways to save money while renovating your property.

Here are a few tips to help you save on your next property project …

Tip 1 – Electrical work

Electrical work is skilled work that only qualified people can do. But before the cable is taken out of the van, the electrician first needs to lift floorboards, drill holes for the cables, chase walls and fix backboxes ready for sockets. These are things that either you or a labourer (at half the cost of the electrician) can do.

Before starting work though, talk to the electrician to figure out best routes to run cables. Then as long as they say it’s safe, there is nothing stopping you doing this part of the job.

If anything they might thank you for it – and you are saving a shedload of money at the same time …

Tip 2 – Loading up the site

On any sort of building or landscaping project, materials will need heaving around. For example, if the property is in a hard-to-reach location, or the only access for works in the rear garden is through the house, or it’s just a really long awkward trek to get to the property, then a great way of saving money is what we call “loading the job up”. Essentially this means getting all the materials in the right place ready for the builder.

This will save a mega amount in labour costs. Furthermore, you could arrange to have the materials delivered well before the builder is due, giving you lots of time to load the job up so you’re not rushing it.

“I would love it if one day one of my customers would load the site up ready for me.”

Again, depending on the size of the works, it could save you a lot of money.

Tip 3 – Site preparation

Prepare and clear the area ready for the tradesperson.

This sounds so simple but I can literally spend an hour moving people’s stuff before I can do the job. So move all furniture out of the way and lay dustsheets down if you have them. This helps the builder, keeps morale high, speeds the job up and saves time and money.

A friend of mine did such a good job of this once that the place look liked a crime scene – there was plastic sheeting everywhere. We laughed about it but it saved so much time at the start of the work, and also the additional time it would have taken in clearing up at the end of the job. Which to be fair builders are not great at …

Tip 4 – Bathroom cost saving

If you’re having a bathroom refit and lots of tiles have to be taken off the wall, how about removing and disposing of them before the bathroom fitter starts work? This will save the labour costs of the bathroom fitter.

However, if you tackle this yourself, be careful and be sure to wear all the correct personal protective equipment (PPE).

Tip 5 – Carpet cost saving

Another good tip is when you are having carpets laid, clear out all the rooms ready and even take up all the carpet and underlay. This again saves labour costs and gets the job started that much earlier, so the fitter can potentially get more done in the day.

Toby Sloley

Toby Sloley, finalist, Britain’s Top Tradesperson

Tip 6 – Painting on new plaster

A good way to save money painting on new plasterwork is to do what we call the “whitewash” yourself.

This is just a matter of painting the entire newly-plastered wall with a watered down emulsion – usually a white matt emulsion, hence the name – to give the plaster a first coat. Once dry, this coat highlights any imperfections to the decorator and any coats on top of this will be more uniform in finish.

The beauty about this coat is that you don’t have to worry about lots of cutting in. The important thing is covering all the new plaster. You will easily save money doing this yourself.

Tip 7 – Scour online selling sites for bargains

I am obsessed with used selling sites like Gumtree and free ads. On the run-up to a project, I scour these sites looking for anything that could be of possible use for my project. One of my best savings recently was 10 x packs of rock wall insulation for £15 per pack (usually £38 per pack). You can find anything from internal doors to patio slabs.

Tip 8 – Waste disposal

In line with tip 7 these selling sites are not only good for finding great deals, they are also perfect for getting rid of stuff.

A good example was a bathroom refit where the old suite coming out was not in bad condition. So rather than paying to dispose of it, I offered it online, free to collector. The whole suite was gone the same afternoon. That saved disposal costs, prevented waste going to landfill and helped someone out, all in one go.

You don’t need to necessarily give things away. Sometimes you can ask for a few quid and make a bit of money to go towards the project. This not only saves on disposal costs but also brings in some tea and biscuit money.

Tip 9 – Cancel your gym membership

The beauty of a lot of these money saving tips is that you will be saving even more by putting your gym membership on hold. Because, while you are carrying out these works, you will definitely not require a gym session!

Important note. Please remember, for all these money-saving tips, to check with a professional before you carry out any works.

Also get a price for two options for the job: one for the tradesperson to carry out the labour-intensive work, and the other for them not to undertake that part of the job. This will make it clear from the outset what savings you can make.

Happy money saving!

For more helpful tips and all round property and building advice please visit my blog allthings-property.com.

Toby Sloley

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