Building Beautiful Homes On a Budget: Where to Spend or Save

In a world of Pinterest, Grand Designs and LLB from House Rules, the way people build their homes has changed. Four walls and a slab is now a canvas for endless design possibilities, from the materials you source to the furniture you decorate with.

When you build off the plan or with a building company, you end up with less room to move and personal touches cost you more as you steer away from the original draft. As an owner, the freedom is yours to make your home look exactly how you want – but that doesn’t mean you’re safe from blowing your budget. Without balancing the splurges with some savings, you’ll find it hard to stay within your means.

We’ve put together a guide to where you can save and where it’s worth the splurge, all while creating the beautiful home of your Pinterest board dreams!

Where you can SAVE on your build

Being frugal has a bad reputation. When you think budget, does your mind automatically go to cheap looking fixtures, tacky flooring and garish tiles? It shouldn’t. Here’s some areas where you can save your dollars without compromising on style or function.


In many ways, lighting is one of the most important parts of your home. If the words ‘light filled space’ make your heart skip a beat, be rest assured that you won’t need to spend big to achieve it.

Industrial Lighting


Once lights are installed, they don’t see a lot of wear and tear, because they’re rarely touched or adjusted. Especially if you choose your lightbulbs wisely and build your home to let natural light in where possible. Lighting stores have great ranges and there’s always Ikea! Don’t feel restricted when you’re choosing your lighting and remember that even if you save on your lights by choosing low to mid range options, they aren’t likely to break or need replacing anytime soon.


A ceiling can open up large spaces or make smaller rooms feel even cosier. Whichever effect you go for, it can be achieved with the right paint choice, which means there’s little need for more expensive fixings.


Confidently save on your ceiling only if your structure is sound and meets building standards. Don’t skimp on the construction and what you do with the ceiling afterwards will withstand anything. If you’d like to add more detail to your ceiling, simple cornices will be easy to work into your budget.

Bench tops

I know what you’re thinking. The kitchen is the heart of the home, it’s where family comes together and it should be the most beautiful room in the house. It’s worth the extra money! While that’s true, being selective about what you spend and save on will make your budget stretch further. What you save on your bench tops can be better used on other parts of the fit out and decoration that make a bigger impact on the area’s overall appearance.

Laminex Samples


There’s no reason to spend thousands over budget on stone or marble, when the average Australian family remodels their kitchen every 15 years. The biggest consideration you should make when you’re modelling your kitchen is how easy it is to clean and whether it’s durable.

Choose LaminexFormica or stone – most suppliers will cut it to your specs. Then use the money you saved on other accessories like a fridge, microwave or a splash back, which are all more affordable ways to make your kitchen a beautiful and functional space.


Carpet is the most affordable floor covering on the market and the range you can choose from is huge. It’s always going to be costly as choosing the material is just half of the battle. You have to have underlay, gripper rods and installation as well as the material.

We encourage you use your owner builder mentality to your advantage and source the underlay and gripper rods yourself to save on the overall cost. Whether you should splash out on a pure wool carpet or stay economic is really according to preference.


There are expensive carpets and there’s budget options. Carpet needs to be incredibly durable for it to be affordable, as foot traffic will rip a poor quality material apart. The choice is yours and it often comes down to aesthetics and touch. So, save your money for the type of carpet by avoiding extra costs in the installation stage.


For similar reasons to bench tops, save yourself some money when you’re choosing your tiles. There’s some incredible bathroom inspiration out there, so it can be tough to let your creative tiling dreams go. The good news is, you don’t have to! Be inventive with your tiling and incorporate a feature wall into your bathroom, where you can display fewer expensive tiles in eye catching ways. Then, use affordable, durable ceramic tiles for the rest.

Tile Feature Wall


Don’t underestimate an affordable ceramic tile. It won’t crack under pressure and you won’t have to spend more time than necessary mopping. Instead you’ll enjoy tiles that you can use again in your laundry and even around a fireplace. Shop around for suppliers until you find the tile you love; their patterns and styles vary widely from store to store and it’s a great chance to go hunting for antique or recycled styles!

Where you should INVEST

A smart investment starts in your planning. If it’s going to cost extra but last longer, improve your living standard and increase the value of your home – it’s worth it. Here’s where we recommend you spend more, to save later.


You already know you’re going to spend on your floor. It’s subject to continuous thoroughfare and extends over a large portion of your home. We’ve discussed your options for tiling and carpets, so what about floorboards? The verdict is that flooring should be done well if you’re going to do it all.

Flooring Showroom Display


Besides the aesthetic appeal of a beautiful timber floor, it’s hardy and practical. Pre-finished and ready to lay timber lasts for a long time, doesn’t trap dirt or bacteria, is easy to clean and comes in a variety of options to suit your home. We aren’t saying you can’t create your floors completely from tiles and carpet. Our point is that if you do choose floorboards, it isn’t a place to skimp. If you’re still looking to save some dollars, you can search for recycled hardware at places like Adelaide & Rural Salvage, plus you’ll be going easy on the environment by recycling.


The reason we invest in storage like cupboards and cabinets is because it will effect how your home will operate for years to come. Avoid feeling like you’re always finding a place for too much ‘stuff’ by creating a storage system that can accomodate.

Storage Solutions Lady With Flowers


Proper storage isn’t just an investment of your money but also your time. Don’t throw some cupboards in a hallway and tell yourself it will be enough – think carefully about your family’s needs and plan accordingly. It might be that you don’t need to store a huge amount of things, in which case a standard, cheaper option might suit you. In bigger families, spending more on customising cabinets with your contractor will be worth it for your sanity later on.

Bath and Shower

This is 50/50 aesthetics and function, so you know it’s important. Pay more for a well built shower or bath and it will be an attractive addition to your home and you’ll save money on repairs and professional cleaning down the track.


Because showers and baths are used so often, it’s worth spending more to make sure nothing breaks or malfunctions. While you’re spending good money, shop around and buy a model that suits your bathroom’s layout and makes your House & Garden dreams come to life. Then you can save on all of the fixings like taps and handles but still have a gorgeous bathroom.

How to include your choices in your construction plans

Even the most detailed draft won’t contain every single customised aspect of your selections. The sink symbol on your building plan doesn’t say anything about where it comes from – is it the $250 version you saw at the bathroom outlet or did you decide on an upscale model?

Keeping track of this information is critical, which is where a selections schedule becomes so important when avoiding huge budget blowouts. Keeping track of your choices room-by-room is the best way to have everything in front of you, so you can prioritise where you save and where you spend.

Home Together Builder's Checklist

When you build with Home Together, we provide you with a trackable solution for every one of your build selections, so you can keep track of every detail as you work your way through the building process.

Remember, it’s your home and you should have it the way you’d like. Make your inspiration board a reality by simply prioritising where you spend and where you save – it’s the Home Together way and it works!

Having Home Together on your side as an owner turned builder results in a beautiful, functional and valuable home or extension. If you’re ready to talk about building your home as an owner and builder, we’re offering a complimentary phone call to talk Home Together and how it will make your project a success.


Simply click the button and you’ll be taken to a page where you can choose your own date and time for a consult with one of Home Together’s team of experts.