New flooring to a revamped kitchen — how to renovate on a restricted budget


WITH many of us forced to ditch holidays, 2020 is seeing many people use travel funds to do up their homes.

But job insecurity means hard-bargaining homemakers are finding savvy ways to save money while getting the on-trend new look they want. Here’s how to renovate on a restricted budget.

Breathe some new life into your home with these affordable tps

Jane Hamilton, property expert

Jane is here to help you make the most out of your property

KITCHEN: Fresh figures from recycler The Used Kitchen Company show sales of second-hand kitchens have hit a 15-year high. Buying second-hand or ex-display units and appliances can cut up to 70 per cent off the cost of your renovations. See

BATHROOM: Deep clean your bath, sink and basin to remove marks – it will help you decide if you need to replace. Use a Tubby Bath Resurfacing kit on enamel baths. Replace old taps with a fresh design from £20. Brass taps will give a contemporary look.

TILING: Cheap tiles can look lux with the right know-how. In the bathroom, run tiles up to the ceiling. In both kitchen and bathroom, pick an unusual mix of colours and lay them in a non-standard pattern like herringbone.

STAIRS: Stain or paint your steps, paint the railings a contrasting darker colour and add a wallet-friendly runner up the middle. offers options from £12.

FLOORING: Patterned lino that looks like tiles is a cheap and impactful way to change a room, from just £5 per square metre. Use in hallways, kitchens and bathrooms. Floorboards in good condition? Sand and paint in a chic shade.

HANDLES: Upgrade existing handles with spray paint. Choose a strong contrasting colour. Or swap for new ones from just £3 a set.

Judge Rinder, legal expert

Judge Rinder helps readers with their legal matters

Q)WE live in a semi-detached house and so have a fence each side and one at the back. Each neighbour who lives the other side of the fence has told us they own the fence and we should not touch them without asking permission.

We would like to paint our side of the fence to preserve it – can we really not do this?

Keith, Cheshire

A) Deciding whether a fence is on the correct boundary can be an epic legal headache. The usual rule is that if your neighbour purchases and erects fencing on the boundary between your two properties then, in most circumstances, they own the fence.

Because your neighbour legally owns the fence, you ARE required to get permission before painting or staining your side of it. I understand that this may seem odd but the law is there to stop nuisance neighbours from damaging the fencing.

Your issue shouldn’t be difficult to resolve, especially because your neighbour is under a legal obligation to keep the fence in good and safe repair so, as you’re planning on using a paint that’s going to keep the fence in good condition for longer, a nicely worded letter asking for permission should do the trick.

Q) My neighbours and I have all received letters from the local council warning us that there is an accumulation of waste at the back of our properties and we have 14 days to clear it or pay a fine.

This waste is in the alleyway at the rear and has been building up over the years and we have no evidence as to who put it there. I emailed the council and told them the waste is nothing to do with me and I can’t even access the alleyway from my property.

We were informed that as we are freeholders to the alleyway, it is our responsibility. How can this be right when so many people have access to the alleyway and we have no way to prevent the waste? There is a lot of rubbish and I’m not sure we can clear it in 14 days. What should we do?

Christopher, London

A) This is not entirely straightforward I’m afraid. If you are claiming that the waste has been dumped there illegally by people who have easy access to the alleyway then, in all likelihood, the council has the legal responsibility of cleaning it up.

If, on the other hand, your neighbours have been leaving rubbish over a period on land that you jointly own the freehold of, the legal responsibility of keeping it clean is likely to be partly yours. The complication in this case is that you don’t appear to have any access to this alleyway, which leaves me wondering how or why it is part of your freehold.

You need to get together with neighbours and make clear to the council that you are all the victims of fly-tipping and provide any supporting evidence you have. If this fails, get further legal advice as a group to determine, among other things, whether you do in fact own the freehold on the alleyway.

Mel Hunter, readers’ champion

Mel is our consumer rights chapion

Q) IN January we booked a British Airways holiday to Helsinki for December this year. The price for the package including the hotel and flights came to around £1,200.

When Covid struck, we were surprised to receive an email from BA telling us they had cancelled it and would call us. Out of curiosity, we checked their website and found the exact same holiday still offered, but at double the price.

We tried calling BA through May and June but never got through and finally got hold of customer relations via email, and they simply told us that “prices go up”.

We haven’t been given an explanation as to why BA cancelled our reservation while the holiday is still available. We still wish to go.

John Jones, Andover, Hants

A reader wrote in to say their trip to Helsinki was cancelled – despite the same trip still being sold online for double the price

A) My postbag is full of people trying to get refunds for holidays they can’t go on, so it was rare to try to secure a getaway for a reader instead.

Even in these peculiar times, it seemed odd to have a December holiday cancelled eight months before you were due to travel. BA reckoned that it would have been in touch to discuss your holiday options and would then have found you an alternative flight.

It did not tell me why it had cancelled your trip while the holiday was still available, nor did it comment on your worrying claim that it was now being marketed at a higher price. But it did transfer you on to Finnair flights at no extra cost so that the break can go ahead. Let’s hope coronavirus doesn’t ruin your plans.

Q) I HAVE lost £635 and I do not know where to turn because PayPal will not help. I sold an iPhone on eBay for £635, which I posted to the buyer. A few days later the buyer opened a claim that the phone was not as described.

PayPal asked the buyer to return the phone to me, and the buyer provided a tracking number as proof of postage, but I did not receive the phone. I discovered from the Royal Mail the tracking number was for an item to be delivered to a different postcode.

PayPal insisted it was sent to my address and declined my appeal, even though I provided it with a letter from Royal Mail explaining the package had gone elsewhere. My PayPal account is now £635 in arrears and the buyer has walked away with a free phone. This is a substantial amount of money I cannot afford to lose.

Nana Enchill, Aylesbury, Bucks

A) You had done all the detective work, which suggested the tracking information PayPal had been sent had been doctored to make it look as though the phone had been sent back to you.

Yet the transaction company still refused to find in your favour, leaving you out of pocket and the buyer with a free phone.

I asked PayPal to look at the case again and within three weeks it had upheld your case, the £635 was back in your account and a huge weight had been lifted from your shoulders.

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