7 Ways How DIY Can Help You to Live in London on a Budget - Broke in London

7 Ways How DIY Can Help You to Live in London on a Budget

Guest post by Barry Gray

Let’s get honest here, London is an expensive place to live. By that, I don’t just mean the cost of buying a home or the cost of renting. It seems as if everything is more expensive there than anywhere else in the UK and almost more than anywhere else in the world.

Often, that means you need to look at ways in which you can save money, and one way is DIY.

You see, the cost of hiring someone to come to your home and carry out even basic DIY tasks is astronomical in London compared to what you may expect. While I appreciate that those people have to earn a living, it makes me wish more people could perform some of the tasks themselves to save money.

But rather than sit here complaining about it, I feel I should try to do something about it.

I think the best way is to go ahead and try to provide you with some ideas and ways in which DIY can indeed save you money. After all, with the cost of everything constantly rising, these ways may turn into something you feel you can then go ahead and actually achieve on your own.

When DIY is Such a Good Idea

DIY does have a number of clear benefits. However, I would give a word of caution as it’s not always the best option. After all, you should never indulge in anything to do with electrical wiring if you are not qualified. The same applies to dealing with gas. It’s just not worth the potentially deadly problems.

But that only covers a small section of projects you may find yourself getting stuck into. Honestly, there has never been an easier time to get involved in DIY than now, thanks to the Internet.

You see, even if you have never carried out certain tasks before, it’s very easy to find tutorials online that can guide you through the steps you need to take. I love that idea, and tutorials cover everything from basic projects, such as hanging shelving, to more complex ideas that are best tackled when you have more experience.

How Much Money Can You Save?

I know some people will be sitting reading this and wondering if it’s all worth the apparent extra hassle of getting involved in DIY. However, let me try to describe this in some sort of monetary way.

Now, I know the amount of money you can save will vary from project to project. For that reason, I can hardly go ahead and put an exact figure on it. But that being said, it’s always very possible for you to save anywhere from 50% to as much as 80% compared to hiring a contractor.

But why are the potential savings so significant? Well, that’s what I’m going to illustrate when I go through these seven different points. By the end, you will have a superior understanding of how it’s possible to end up keeping so much money in your own pocket.

You Save On Hiring Professionals

The thing about hiring a professional is that their costs are made up of several different factors. First, you have the materials they use, and they will often go to the same place for their materials, even if they are not the cheapest out there.

After that, you have their hourly rate to factor into the price. This is something that varies a great deal, and you then have no idea what other factors they put into the price they will charge.

At the end of the day, it’s very easy for you to pay several times more for a professional to do the job than if you had been able to do it yourself.

But there’s also the hassle of trying to hire someone in the first place. You waste so much time shopping around, getting different quotes, and then wondering if the person you hire is actually good enough to do the job.

I know from previous experience how the price you could potentially pay for a professional can vary to such a degree that you even wonder how some can get away with charging their prices. Also, contractors in London will automatically charge a higher rate simply because everything else costs so much there.

You Can Buy Second Hand

7 Ways How DIY Can Help You to Live in London on a Budget

Pic by Canva Pro

Another considerable advantage of DIY is that it means you can buy things second hand, work on them yourself, and then have something unique and perfect for your home. All of that is achieved without the need to hire someone. However, I do admit you need the tools and ability to then accomplish the sort of end results you were hoping for.

But I’m not saying that you need to be an absolute DIY expert to do something. That’s not the case. Instead, you need to understand your own limitations and how they fit in with what you can achieve with a project.

I’m talking about things such as refurbishing furniture, buying old scaffolding boards, and putting them up as shelving. If you stop and think about areas where you can purchase old items and bring them back to life, what you see is a rather extensive list.

I love doing this. I find it amazing the way you can take something that looks as if it should be thrown away and turn it completely around.

You can even go to charity shops and see what you can pick up. Look online at places, including Facebook marketplace, to see what people are trying to sell.

As long as you are willing to search and hunt for items, you can easily pick up items for a fraction of what you would do if they were completely new. After that, use your DIY skills, or learn some new ones, to transform them into whatever it is you want.

You Can Go with Your Own Budget

When you hire a professional, you tend to want everything completed in the shortest time and with the least amount of inconvenience. However, that’s going to cost you more money.

But this issue of shelling out a vast sum at the one time does not apply when you go ahead and carry out the projects on your own. You can set your own budget for the part of the project you want to complete at this moment in time, and then stick to it.

This means you can save some cash compared to getting a professional to come and help you. So what if you only carry out a part of the entire project at a time?

Having that ability to do things as the money comes in may mean you take longer to complete the project, but you will save yourself a whole lot of money in the process, and that’s what I’m trying to focus on right now.

You Shop Around for Materials

7 Ways How DIY Can Help You to Live in London on a Budget

Pic by Canva Pro

I see this as another massive bonus in that you can shop around for materials. Hiring a professional does mean you are at the mercy of where they go for their materials. You need to effectively pay the price they want you to pay.

But when you go ahead and do things on your own, then you get to check out different stores and see how much they charge for different materials or tools. I’m not saying you should go ahead and consistently seek to cut corners regarding costs; that would be insane and could ruin your project.

However, there’s nothing wrong with finding places where you can make savings on the same item. Why pay more for the same thing?

That’s one of the fantastic things about DIY. The ability to shop around can lead to substantial savings, and who doesn’t want that?

You see, a contractor will often have a trade account. Some will even factor in a slight profit on the materials they use in order to then make more money.

But if you do things on your own, then you can check every single supplier in the area. You can even buy some items online and have them shipped to you, resulting in a substantial saving.

I’ve already said that the savings difference can be from 50% to 80%, and shopping around for materials can push it up closer to that 80%. I would suggest you spend more time focusing on this part than you would anticipate. It will keep a substantial sum of money in your pocket as a result.

Taking Your Time

This does fit in with other points mentioned earlier, but DIY allows you to dictate the pace you work at, and taking your time has so many benefits.

When you hire a professional, you sort of end up working at their pace. After all, they want to get the job done as quickly as possible, get paid, and then move on to the next client.

Because of this, you can end up overspending as you find yourself caught up in a whirlwind of the contractor wanting to get the job over and done with. But the problem is you end up causing yourself a problem elsewhere as it takes money away from other aspects of life because you have had to focus on one area.

DIY allows you to plan better and to then take your time. So what if you have to break a project up into smaller chunks to let you get the materials you need at a slower pace to allow you to live without stressing your finances?

But I also find that taking your time allows you to enjoy working on the project. If you need to simply hammer your way through it, then you get to the point where you don’t really take in what you are doing. I’m not too fond of that idea, so the fact you will also save money simultaneously is simply another added bonus.

You Can Adapt Your Budget

I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to stick to a budget for a project. It’s all too easy for the costs to climb as you realise you need a new bit for a tool or more materials than you expected.

But if you hire a contractor in London, then you have a problem.

Let’s say more materials are required to complete the job. You didn’t bargain or budget for that to happen, but what are you going to do? You can hardly leave the job half-finished, so you are stuck in a situation you didn’t want.

But doing everything yourself takes away that particular problem. You can adapt your budget and also when you spend your budget. You have absolute control or can chop and change your plans as you work through the project, depending on expenditure.

I see that as a significant way in which DIY can help you to live on a budget in London. It means you will not be required to stretch your finances when you don’t really want to.

Improved Planning Opportunities

I love the fact that attempting to work on projects on your own means you have more say over the planning of the entire project. You can fit it around your own schedule rather than having it forced onto you when contractors are involved.

It’s important to remember you probably have a million other things to do, such as working, just to afford the cost of everything in London. So, not having this issue of dealing with a contractor and working with them hanging over your head is a big deal.

I admit that planning is one of the things I love about working on my own projects. I can do as much or as little as I want, and that’s a great thing.

I spend my time looking at what needs to be done and putting things in some sort of order. I need to have this ability to organise things, or I will never complete projects within the timeline I set myself.

But I know this is all about how it can help you on a budget, so allow me to explain.

Time management leads to less expense. It’s a known fact, and not just with the project in question. There’s also a knock-on effect associated with any project to think about.

I’ve said on several occasions that trying to do everything at the one time leads to more significant expense, so planning allows you to work more closely to your desired budget.

But if you hire a contractor, then your ability to plan things accordingly is diminished. You have less say in what happens due to this need to largely negotiate.

Overall Conclusion

So, you now have seven different ways in which DIY can make living in London on a budget just that bit more possible. I’m not expecting people to be able to go ahead and use all eight options. That’s not something that would make sense.

However, what I hope is that the different options above do show you what’s possible from a DIY perspective and to illustrate that you don’t always have to go down that path of hiring an expensive contractor.

But at the root of it all is the need for you to have the correct tools in place. Without them, you have no way of achieving these savings, so be sensible as to the tools you have, or even those you could borrow, and be aware of the projects you can carry out.

At the end of the day, any way we can save money is something to be welcomed. Hopefully now, you have unearthed some additional ways that could prove fruitful for you.