You will want your cash to go as far as possible. By doing the job yourself, not only will labour costs be saved but you can save yet again by buying materials wisely and in the cheapest places.
Features in do it yourself journals describing how to make, say, a sideboard, will give a cutting list showing exactly how much and what lengths and thicknesses of timber to buy and how many screws and other fittings will be needed. This is convenient for the man who is not used to making his own plans and who has no room to store any surplus material. But it costs more — not only because the quantities of timber and sundries required are comparatively small but because the timber yard will charge for the cutting.
It can be taken as a general rule that the more you buy of one commodity the cheaper a basic unit it becomes. This applies to all building materials: a bag of cement from a builders’ merchant will be proportionately less in price than a small packet from a shop; a cubic metre of timber shows a considerable saving over a short length. And nails bought by weight are far more economical than those one sees in handy cellophane packages.
Another advantage of buying timber in bulk and doing your own cutting is that yard-cut timber could be a few millimetres out, whereas your cut will be precise. Then again, a pre-cut piece for an item of furniture may contain an ugly knot. Do the cutting yourself and you can use this faulty bit for the back where it will not be seen.
Buying in quantity relies on two factors: first, the ability to think of projects well in advance so that sufficient timber can be bought for the hypothetical sideboard and for, let us say, a table or a built-in fitting planned to be made at some time in the future; second, proper storage space. Sand should be kept well away from falling leaves and pets which are likely to scratch and bury things. Cement must be stored under cover. Timber should also be under cover and in a place where air can circulate (the tie beams of a garage roof are excellent for this purpose). Nails and screws require a dry atmosphere so that they will not rust, and convenient labelled containers to enable you to get what is wanted quickly. If there is any sign of damp, put a bag of silica gel among them.