Fix up your home for less: buy second hand

Fight back against rising building costs by opting for used materials

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Couple Working in Kitchen

If you were planning on renovating your home, the bad news is that building costs are on the rise.

Builders' merchant Travis Perkins has estimated that, as a result of manufacturer price increases, the cost of building an extension is likely to cost by 4.7% more than a year ago.

But the good news is that you can fight back against rising costs by buying used goods. Everything from window frames to door knobs, bath tubs to bricks are now available to buy on the burgeoning second-hand market.

Whereas builders used to fill thousands of skips a day with discarded radiators, floor boards and front doors, they are now being encouraged to recycle and resell. Homeowners meanwhile are also realising that there is value in their unwanted construction waste and are busy selling it on. But where do you find all this stuff?

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Reclamation yards

For materials that you would normally buy new from a builder's merchant, reclamation yards are the best places to look. Although rather a primitive site, SalvoWeb, will direct you to your nearest architectural salvage yard. These places have everything from old fireplaces to vintage bricks, stone columns to flag stones.

If you don't know a spent roof tile from a sound one, however, it is advisable to take a building expert with you on any buying trip. And don't buy any electrical or gas products without having them certified as fit for reuse by a professional first.

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Listings and auction sites

Ebay, Gumtree and Preloved are just some of the sites used to flog unwanted building wares. Don't buy anything that you would use for structural purposes unseen from such places however. You don't want to discover that those railway sleepers you successfully bid for turn out to be riddled with woodworm when they arrive.

These are great places to find decorating oddments, however. Osbourne & Little wallpaper, Farrow & Ball Paint and Fired Earth tiles are often sold off by people who have over spent on their own fancy building projects. You can find yourselves some real bargains on brands that you would never be able to afford new.

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Second-hand kitchens

If you'd always assumed a high-end kitchen was out of your price range, think again. The second-hand kitchen market is booming. You can now pick up a designer used kitchen for a fraction of what it would cost new. They often come complete with appliances, sinks and taps too; and, because expensive kitchens are built to last they should dismantle and reinstall easily.

The Used Kitchen Company has dozens of kitchens being sold off by their existing owners all around the country. They also offer a 'dismantle, delivery and reinstallation' service by professional kitchen fitters. It's worth getting an expert in to do this.

Before you buy, however, it's important to visit the kitchen in situ so that you can check that the sink has no cracks, the appliances all work and that the units' drawers and doors all work smoothly. Remember too that worktops are difficult to refit as they often need to be made to measure so you may need to invest in new here.

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