eBay-tastic Part I: House Renovation on a Budget

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This post is for all the eBay sceptics out there. After you are done reading this post, my secret hope is that it will have changed your mind and maybe even tempted you to give it a go!

So let’s start with the obvious: I am an eBay fan. I freaking LOVE eBay. I also LOVE sourcing. I genuinely don’t mind looking for an item until I find the right one. When we were in the middle of the House of Savage refurb, Mr Savage and I spent entire evenings sat together on the sofa on our respective iPads, sourcing “stuff” to make our budget stretch as much as possible. Romantic, hey?!

And eBay sourcing, we did: I am talking vintage radiators, a pair of sand-blasted fireplaces,  second-grade appliances, a roll top bath and globe taps, second-hand Fired Earth bathware and chandeliers.  The fireplaces were a real find as we needed two matching ones to go into the dining room and sitting room and new ones were extortionate. The description matched the late Victorian period when our house was built and now they look like they have been there all along.

My proudest eBay find was funnily one Mr Savage wasn’t involved in (if he is, he’s usually the one who finds the good stuff): an old rusty roll top cast iron bath that had been rotting away at the back of a garden shed, which I got for… £40.

I then sourced a local bath refurb business (www.thebathbusiness.co.uk), who fetched it from the seller, brought it back to their West Sussex workshop, and worked their magic to re-enamel that beauty (post to come on this later). Including all work and delivery costs, I had one-of-a-kind piece for probably half the price of a two-a-penny new cast-iron bath.

Mr Savage’s top deal was this brand new range cooker: a beautiful beast, which was retailing into the 5 figures and that we got for 10% of its value (owner bought it to run a café and never got the funding to open it; at least that was his story!). Only issue was that we bought it a full year before we got planning permission for the kitchen extension and we lived with the damn thing in the hallway for a year. But it was worth it, and we now have a stunning item we could never have afforded at full price.

So, for all those of you out there wishing to refurb homes and grab yourselves a bargain, here are our top tips for finding some gems:

  • Save your searches: look up items and filter as appropriate (how far, select “used” under condition to only get vintage pieces, etc.) then save your search. Finding the right piece can take some time and you don’t want to have to redo this all the time.
  • Set up your “Followed Searches” list: you can follow a search and get email alerts every time an item matching your keywords is listed; for example, I had “vintage steamer trunk” as a followed search for a while until I found the one I wanted.
  • Stalk your sellers: ok, that sounds creepy, but if you find a gem with a particular seller, check what other items they are selling. If it’s clear that the item you bought from them was a one off, then ignore. However if they often sell similar stock, then add them to your list of “Followed Sellers”.
  • Talk to people! I have done some great deals by contacting the seller and agreeing a price with them below what was advertised. They would then set it up as a Buy Now and I would snap it up!
  • Take risks: so, you bought something you didn’t like the look of? STICK IT BACK ON! So long as you got a good price for it, you should be able to shift it. Also pay attention to the return conditions offered by your seller.

So, ready to give it a go? Let us know how you get on using the comments box below, we’d love to hear from you.  eBay-tastic Part II will follow and focus on home decor. Happy eBay hunting!

2 Comments

  1. Hi Estelle
    I love your ebay finds especially the chandeliers. I picked up an old one at auction which needs rewiring which is proving difficult. Have you got any contacts for restoring/rewiring chandeliers?

    There’s lots of overlap with your style of interiors sourcing and what I do which is eco-renovation of old houses – http://renovategreen.co.uk. I’d love to hear from you.
    All the best
    Natasha

    1. Hi Natasha,
      Thanks for the comment and lovely to meet you. I will contact you by email. Cheers, Estelle

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