Nobody wants to make a costly purchase and then regret it, but when it comes to buying home appliances it's easy to get seduced by sales talk or appearances. Here're a few tips to make sure that when you buy big, you buy wisely.
1. Define what you need before you start looking
If it's a washing machine, then one that's too small for your family or too big for your single lifestyle won't serve you well. An oven that comes with all the bells and whistles may look highly desirable in the showroom, but if you're a 'take it out of the freezer and stuff it in the oven' sort of cook, then spending in the upper hundreds on a new cooker won't transform you into a cordon bleu chef. Start with a realistic needs list to protect yourself from impulse and keep your costs down.
2. Do your research
The internet is your friend here, there are lots of places you can look for reviews and you might pick up some tips on what not to buy. For instance if a particular brand or model has a common fault you'll see accounts of people needing costly appliance repairs, generally just after the guarantee period has expired.
3. Measure at least twice
Unless you're redesigning your kitchen your new machine has to fit into the space the old one occupied, measure carefully to make sure it will.
This is especially important if you're buying online and looking at pictures. If your home has difficult access, narrow doorways, or awkward sharp turns on the stairs consider these too. You don't want to end up with your beautiful new American fridge stuck in the garden!
4. Plan big purchases ahead of time
Sometimes this is difficult if your oven fridge freezer or washing machine lets you down it's hard to live without it. Realistically, sudden fatal faults are less common than you might think. If you know your old appliance is reaching the end of its lifespan, time your purchase for a sale. You could easily save 10% or more without compromising on quality or forgoing functions you need.
5. Make sure you're comparing like-for-like
This isn't always easy, even when you're looking at an identical machine from two different retailers. Check for things like delivery costs, fitting charges, or other hidden extras that can bump up an initially attractive ticket price. When you're looking at models from different manufacturers that appear to have similar features it's worth checking guarantee periods which can vary widely.
6. Check out part-exchange, resale of your old item or other cost-saving possibilities
If your old machine has some life left you might be able to part-exchange it or sell it on to someone who'll appreciate not having to splash out on a new one just yet. If your appliance is definitely beyond all repair see if you can bargain to get it taken away when the new one is delivered and save yourself the disposal costs.
7. Beware of brands you've never heard of
Obscure brands can appear to offer great value for money, and sometimes they really do. Other times you may discover that when it comes to appliance repairs you'll suffer for that lower initial purchase price. Replacement parts may be difficult and expensive to obtain or worse yet impossible. That's not to say that you should turn down a genuine bargain out of brand snobbery, but do some extra checks to make sure that if something goes wrong you can get it fixed.