There are a few possibilities available when you are buying tools and materials for your renovation project. Most French towns have some kind of builders merchant where you can buy all the materials that you need.
This is a good place to start – local delivery charges will be less or not apply at all, and if you go in and introduce yourself before you start your project, and explain that you intend to spend lots of money, you will possibly be able to negotiate a discount.
The staff in the shop will get to know you, which will make it easier to get free advice. But I have found that prices are not always very clearly marked.
(See our DIY shops in France section for a brief introduction to the DIY shopping experience in France.)
Keep an eye on the free brochures and magazines that come tumbling through your door.Most of the larger stores eg E Leclerc, Auchan, Gamm Vert etc which have large ‘building’ sections have occasional promotions.
These promotions can save you a large amount of money. As an example, when I needed to buy 250 square metres of plasterboard for building ceilings and walls, a local ELeclerc was offering a promotion price that amounted to a reduction of about 2 euros per square metre. Even after paying the delivery charge (40 euros) I saved a great deal of money.
Similarly, other expensive items, such as insulation, are often available at a reduced price at certain times of the year. Even if you don’t actually need them for a month or two, consider buying them in advance and storing them.
Remember that the different jobs require different materials – plasterboard for a bathroom is not the same as plasterboard for a lounge, for example. So don’t get carried away with bulk buying, only to find you are left with large amounts of unnecessary materials. It is worth buying materials accredited as Normes Francaises (NF) whenever possible, since these are certified as being of a certain quality. When comparing prices between different suppliers, be sure you are comparing like with like – you can pay 5 euros or 25 euros per square metre of silver foil roof insulation, but they are not the same thing!
Always buy the right tool for the job. It does make a difference to the quality of the final result.
If you are starting a large project, buy good quality tools and electrical equipment at the beginning. These will cost several times as much as the cheapest available, but will actually last for the duration of the job, and make the work much easier to do. If you read the specifications on the boxes in the shop, it is unclear why you are paying extra, when they have the same speed, same pressure, same power and so on. Get home and use them and you will change your mind.
You have to trust me on this one – I don’t buy expensive things because I have got too much money, but because there is no alternative if you want to do a professional job.
Typical examples are drills, jigsaws, air compressors, angle grinders, pressure washers etc. All come in cheap versions and expensive versions and you will regret buying the cheaper.