4 money-saving tips for house renovations | Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents

4 money-saving tips for house renovations


When planning a renovation, it can be incredibly tempting to imagine the various changes you’d like to make to your home. But even if a certain type of change or upgrade is plausible, it doesn’t mean you should do it without thinking of the cost!

Here are some tips you should keep in mind to avoid spending too much on your house renovation.

Keep the original layout

Be sure not to move areas that involve plumbing. (Rawpixel pic)

The most cost-efficient way to renovate is maintaining the original layout of the house. Before you purchase a house, make sure the foundations can support any extensions. Be warned, replacing and rebuilding foundations can be very costly.


If you really need to restructure the house, don’t move the bathrooms, kitchen and other areas that involve running water. Moving plumbing involves taking out wall linings and creating holes in the flooring, so try to stick with what is already there wherever possible.

In the same vein, don’t knock down any walls unless it’s completely unavoidable. It’s more costly to add walls than to remove them, should you decide to put them back up later.

A smaller number of rooms also decreases the value of your home, as people usually go house-hunting with a fixed number of rooms in mind.

For minimalist houses that are too open-plan for your liking, you don’t actually need to renovate. Playing around with the furniture arrangement and flooring, as well as making use of rugs and screens is good enough to define the different areas.


The only technique that may require a contractor is changing the flooring, which is still cheaper than adding walls.

Work with what you have

Not everything has to be custom-made. (Rawpixel pic)

You don’t need custom-made fixtures for your doors, windows and especially cabinetry. Obviously, custom-made items require more workmanship hours than standard sizes and thus will incur more costs.

It’s a lot cheaper to create these fixtures designed around the standard size of a typical piece of plywood or whatever material you are using. A standard size fixture will also fit easily into the existing space.

Kitset cabinetry is more affordable and gives you the freedom and budget to splurge a bit on the benchtop if you want to give the kitchen some wow factor.

Alternatively, you might want to think of using the existing cabinetry and just switch out the doors and drawer fronts. By upgrading the existing structure with more space-efficient dividers, shelving and pull-out trays, you could even save money on a kitchen extension.

To add light to dark bathrooms or hallways, consider a light shaft or tube. The cost is considerably less than cutting holes in the cladding and rearranging framing for windows since it’s much easier to install.

Another way to cut labour (and cost) is by using basic track-, wall- or ceiling-mounted lighting instead of recessed fittings, as you don’t need to cut holes in the ceilings and walls.

Organise your contractors

Engage in contractors can do multiple jobs at once, if possible. (Rawpixel pic)

When hiring contractors, ask if they can carry out any other services besides the one you’re hiring them for.

Although contractors nowadays tend to specialise in specific areas, it can be possible to get a cheaper quote for two services from the same person, compared to two different services from two different people.

If you do have multiple contractors, don’t be shy to talk to them. Try to really understand exactly what will be done by them and how. This will help you identify which tasks are dependant on each other in order to arrange who comes on what day. Not only will this keep the renovation on schedule, but you’ll also avoid your contractors coming in the wrong order, or even worse – all at the same time.

It’s cheaper and more efficient to have them come at the right times. This also means having everything each contractor needs on-site before they get there.

Buy it yourself

You can save a lot by purchasing materials and other items yourself. (Rawpixel pic)

Contractors tend to mark up the price slightly if they pick up fixtures and fittings, which is only fair in exchange for their time and petrol. If you have some spare time, go to the supplier and pick them up yourself.

It’s a win-win for everyone as it’s less trouble for the contractor and less cost for you.

Search online for affordable and reliable locations to purchase materials and fixtures. Similar to clothing stores, more retail showrooms hold end-of-line or clearance sales on a regular basis.


You could also try visiting outlet stores, ‘factory seconds’ shops and stores that sell discounted display stock of curtains, lights and bathroom fittings. Big-box hardware stores can also surprise you with their ever-improving varieties and quality.

Another cheap hack you can use without compromising on quality is buying unfinished kitchen cabinetry and doors to paint them yourself. Before purchasing the paint, be sure to work out the exact amount needed as it’s easy to overestimate and wind up with more paint than you need.

Busy paint trade centres will often sell mis-tinted paint cheaply, so you can afford to pick premium brands. It’s amazing what a difference a good coat of paint can make!