There’s shopping

There’s shopping, and there’s materials shopping.

Self build and renovation projects are often cited as the largest - and most important - spending trip of your life. Depending on the size of your scheme, the bill for materials can be measured in tens and often hundreds of thousands of pounds. What's more, the choices available to you are endless and can often seem daunting, especially to those new to the game.

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Bargaining power

The first thing to remember is that as a self builder or renovator, you are in a powerful position. Suppliers and retailers dream of reeling in clients like you. You have a significant amount of money to spend, and you need to order lots of stuff to build a house. Those suppliers are going to want to get as big a slice of your cash as they can and to do that, they need to offer a good product at the right cost. That means that when there is more than one supplier, you are in a good position to negotiate for the best possible price.

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Builders’ merchants

The obvious places to go for the heavy items in a build (the bricks and blocks, timber, electrical and plumbing goods) are the builders’ merchants. A typical shop manager will have you sussed in a few minutes of walking through the door. He’s going to be interested in how much you need, what you intend to spend and how likely it is that you’ll pay up on time.

You can set up an account with them as soon as you are ready. It’s worth having a discussion with the manager before you start to discuss your requirements and to set the tone. The more trade you can put through a single merchant, the better the discounts are likely to be, so have a frank discussion about what materials they can offer and what level of discount you can expect to receive.

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DIY outlets

As I wander around the big DIY retail warehouses, I’m always intrigued to see how many tradesmen are rooting around looking for trade supplies. The prices in these ‘DIY sheds’ often rival or beat those available in builders’ merchants. They have regular sales giving tremendous deals on tools and materials, so it’s worth dropping in on a regular basis to see what is on offer. Many of the larger branches have tackled the merchants head on by opening up trade counters, so make sure you are registered with them, too.

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