Even the most inexperienced with DIY will have spent some time down at their local DIY centre or store. The more experienced or addicted, probably spends every weekend or evening down there.

Whatever your level, there are a few things you can do to ensure you get the most out of your trip to your local DIY store. Here’s my top five tips:

1.Most stores will have an array of leaflets Tools and supplies offering masses of DIY tips, how to advice, instructions and guidance. Pick up as many as you think will apply in the future and file them at home for when you need them. Some DIY centres will also offer free training classes, usually at weekends. These are excellent for learning the basics or gaining improvement tips. I also know of people who have been inspired for ideas from attending these.

2.The staff at your local DIY store will usually work there because they love DIY. Don’t be intimidated by them: Talk to them, make use of their knowledge and passions. You don’t have to buy anything to receive their advice.

3.Some stock is delicate and may be subject to breakages before it’s even been touched by a customer. A lot of damaged stock is thrown away each year, often just because nobody bought it. DIY stores can limit their loss by selling this damaged stock off cheap, so do not be afraid to ask! Split bags of compost, dented paint cans, broken paving slabs, broken terracotta pieces, wood offcuts are often available at a bargain price. Remember, it’s saving the store on waste collection costs, so don’t feel guilty about asking!

4.Be aware that demand for some items is a lot higher than others. Some nails and screws are regarded as ‘specialised’ just because their length isn’t a particularly common one. If you are not after a specific item, look for the common size in the range. You will be able to spot these as they will have the lowest price per packet!

5.I hate to write one against the DIY stores, but it’s true that with a little thought, planning and time, you can make some items yourself, sometimes to a better standard. This often applies to mass produced wooden items like decorative planters. Use the store as your ideas showroom, then go away and search online for similar designs. You can save heaps this way.