Can you go over-budget with low-cost home designs?

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The budget is the most important factor to consider when building or renovating your home. This is a lengthy and expensive process and we understand that you want to save money when you can. It's okay if you ask us to do the low-cost home designs you found online, as long as you are happy with it. We will find ways to implement it in their homes.

But, at the end of the day, do these budget-friendly home designs help reduce the cost of the project?

Truth is, trying to save money on big-ticket parts of construction but splurging on the furniture, fixtures, and finishes spikes up the final price. A lot of homeowners are guilty of this and we hope you will not become one of them. In this feature, we'll look closely at the low-cost home designs you can find in the internet. We'll tell you why some of the of these features cost more than expected and how to keep the budget for it under control.


LED lights are more cost-efficient lighting options compared to CFL and incandescent light bulbs. However, you have to keep in mind that electricians charge light installation based on quantity. The more downlights you need, the higher the installation costs and labour is. Not to mention, buying more lights means a bigger shopping bill.

Designer Tip: It’s best to limit the number of downlights and strategically place your light sources. If you put the light in the areas where it is needed, then you wouldn’t need extra lights and you will keep your installation and utility costs down.

Sometimes, lighting suppliers run promotions to get more clients. Try to take advantage of these promotions. However, that doesn’t mean you’re going to buy all your lighting needs from a single supplier. Practice exploring your options.

Light switches and power outlets

In some kitchen showrooms, we see a lot of hidden outlets. Some of them magically rise from your counters. We can see their faces light up whenever they see these features. But that smile disappears after they knew how much it takes to install these concealed power outlets.

Same thing goes with the light switches. If you buy designer, touch sensitive light switches over a simple light switch, then you’re spending more on the frills. It’s not always wise to do this, especially if they only have the same function—to turn your light on and off. In addition, your electrician might charge extra for installing these designer switches. Most of these branded items need special fitting wiring needs.

Designer Tip: It’s okay to use cheap outlets and power switches. You can always blend them in your interiors or hide them inside the kitchen drawers. If you want novelty switches, buy from stores which sell second-hand items.


You have a wide range of benchtop materials to choose from—timber, natural stone, and Laminex. But before you choose, you should consider other factors such as profile and sizing. Larger nosing and waterfall slides of your counters automatically increase the costs of the benchtop.  

Designer Tip: Top mounting and under mounting the sink makes a huge difference in the final price of the benchtop services. Undermount sinks cost more because they need to polish all the visible edges of the hole. Flushing the countertops also saves you from paying half to two inches of countertop material.

How These Low-Cost Home Designs Can Cost More than Expected

Joinery drawers and cupboards

In terms of organising and age-proofing the kitchen, drawers are your best bet. Drawers keep all your kitchenware accessible. Unlike cabinets and cupboards, you don’t need to exert so much effort to get the items at the back of everything else.

However, building drawers cost more than basic kitchen cupboards. It’s because drawers require extension runners to make it easier to pull out. Cabinets only require simple hinges. If the kitchen layout you see has more drawers than cabinets, then it’s more expensive to build.

Designer Tip: Having more drawers in your kitchen is a good investment especially when you’re planning to age in place.

Basically, the runner you choose will determine how expensive your drawers can get. The styles and prices of these runners vary. Some are soft closers, some won’t close on their own. Others have full extensions, while others only extend halfway. As the homeowner, you have to weigh the importance of these features to you before making a decision.

Wardrobes and cupboards

Custom-made wardrobes for the homeowner’s needs and space are great except that it blows your budget. To be honest, a lot of homeowners ask us to design a custom wardrobe that’s cheaper to build. What you can do is to incorporate commercial wardrobes in a plastered wall. The builder will then plaster the interiors of the shelves and install architraves outside the doors. It will look like the wardrobe is built in. You are free to expose the interiors or install doors.

Designer Tip: This is an important decision for you to make. The architects in your design and renovation team needs to know these things so he can adjust the sizes of the rooms and to ensure that the wardrobe you have in mind will fit the space perfectly.

Window frames

Window frames come in timber, aluminium, and slim-profile steel. The steel window frames are the most expensive because of the material’s innate strength and capabilities. Next is the aluminium frames which come in commercial, semi-commercial, and residential profiles. It’s a lot lighter compared to steel frames.

Designer Tip: Residential aluminium windows are the most popular choice of homeowners and builders because it’s cheaper and readily available.

Here’s the thing: the more windows you have in your home design, the more expensive it is to build. Expect higher bills if you want double or triple glazed windows.

Designer Tip: You don’t need to double glaze all your windows. Keep it in areas where you enjoy outdoor views or a lot of natural light. It’s okay to install single pane windows on other parts of your home where you spend less time on.

In addition, the larger, heavier, and thicker the glass is, the more expensive it is. Construction grade glass also needs a stronger frame to hold it. These factors add up to the purchase and installation costs of your windows or glass doors.


There is something attractive about seeing more than one tile in your bathroom floor and walls. It gets more exciting if one of the tiles have unusual shapes or intricate patterns.

Unfortunately, this also spikes up the cost of construction, particular on the tiler’s labour fee. The tiler will spend a lot of time in getting the pattern and position of the tiles correctly. He might charge you per hour instead of per metre. Not to mention, some of the tiles might end up as waste especially if it can’t fit in the space anymore.

Designer Tip: There is beauty in using simple tile shapes. Choosing a single tile shape and colour for both walls and floors never fails to make your bath look high-end. But this doesn’t mean we discourage you from using patterned or unique tile shapes. If you’re gonna take that route, go with a single shape. Most of the tiles with intriguing shapes are ceramic. Most natural stone and porcelain tiles come in squares and rectangles.


How These Low-Cost Home Designs Can Cost More than Expected

Graffiti Art Feature wall colours

A feature wall can cost more than you expect, especially if it’s graffiti art. It’s time-consuming because you can’t just rush your artist to do his art. Plus, you need the artist to do his best on your wall. If he needs to stop and wait for a colour to dry, he has to or else colours will unlikely mix with one another. Not to mention, the number of colours and the name of the artist determines the cost.

Keep costs down by restricting the number of colours your graffiti artist will use. Most of them will suggest using white, black, and a strong accent colour such as yellow or red. You should also limit the number of feature walls you want.

Designer Tip: If you don’t fancy graffiti art and really want more colours and design on your feature wall, use a wallpaper. Some wallpaper designs look like high-end paintings or have designs that undeniably steal someone’s attention.

Timber floors

Owning timber floors won’t hurt your budget if you choose common, readily-available materials such as the Victorian ash or an Australian hardwood. If solid timber floors don’t fit your budget, go with timber laminates. It has a thin layer of timber veneer over a cheap wooden interlay. Laminates are pre-finished—stained, varnished, and ready to install. Not to mention, it comes in a wide variety of wood species. This means timber laminates allows you to use expensive wood species at an affordable price. Plus, you skip the staining fees!

Designer Tip: When shopping for laminate timber flooring, ask the thickness of the material’s veneer component. If the veneer is only a few millimetres thin, it might scratch easily and expose the cheap timber underneath.

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