If home improvements are on the horizon, let our tips help ensure things run smoothly.
• Read up on your project. Gathering all the trustworthy advice you can find about the DIY project you are going to undertake will put you in the best position to begin planning your project.
• Make a plan. It's not the most thrilling part of the project, but planning will ensure you know how much time you'll need, which tools you'll need, and are clear about the order in which to do things and the results you want. Let your available budget guide your planning - it's better to do smaller projects you'll definitely be able to afford to finish, than starting off with grand plans you have to discard when you run out of budget.
• Go sample hunting. Before you make any decisions about colours, patterns or fabrics, gather up samples so you can see how each one works in the space you are decorating. The lighting or the other colours or items in the room can all change your opinion, so having samples could save you a costly mistake. Try magazines for colour combinations, DIY shops for paint samples, and markets or haberdasheries for fabric swatches. If you're browsing online, check if the stockist provides samples: at Topps Tiles, we'll send out tile samples with no postage charge, and let you return full (not cut) samples to any store within 60 days for a full refund. Finding a tradesperson
• If you are hiring a tradesperson, ask them for references from previous customers and, if you can, speak to these customers.
• Ask around: in a survey we recently carried out, 80% of respondents said they seek out recommendations from family or friends before hiring a tradesperson, and we agree that this is a great way to ensure you find someone who'll do a good job.
• Make sure you are getting a competitive price by asking a few different tradesperson for a quote and then comparing them for the best deal - something our survey found almost three-quarters of respondents do.
• Check they are a member of a reputable trade association by asking them which one they belong to and calling that association to ask if they are a member. You'll be able to find the phone number for reputable associations by searching online.