You’ve heard the stories about people who’ve bucked the system when it comes to homebuying, striking out and building their home themselves at huge savings. Considering the ever-rising costs of existing homes and lack of affordable housing in many areas, building new can seem very appealing. But you also have to wonder how sustainable the idea is. Is it possible to build a home inexpensively, and what is the cheapest way to build a home?
The building or renovating a house is an expensive proposition as every little thing adds up, whether it’s the material or labour costs. It pays to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve so that your budget is not wasted on redoing elements. Recycling old material or opting for D-I-Y features is another way to keep the costs as low as possible.
At Hitch Property Constructions, we offer a wide range of home renovations.
Before You Start
Okay, you want to build a house. Awesome. But the three little pigs did too. And we all know what happened to them. Two of the pigs had the dumb idea to build their houses out of straw and sticks. The other pig built a well-thought-out house of brick. When the wolf came along, the only house left standing was the one that was carefully built—brick by brick.
Just like the three little pigs, to protect your future, you need to build a budget—brick by brick—before you build a house.
Buy the Property
First, this is a no-brainer, but if you haven’t already bought the property where your house will be built, find a quality real estate agent. These experts, also called buyer’s agents, will help you hunt down and negotiate a deal on land for the perfect location to build your house. A good agent will know where to find up-and-coming areas so you can plant roots in a spot that’ll make your home more valuable over time, which is what you want!
Make the Plans
Now, once you’ve found that lovely plot of land, get ready to make a lot of decisions! In each phase of construction, you’ll make dozens of choices that affect the cost to build your house! You’ll need to start with a well-planned, detailed vision of the home you want. And we don’t just mean the number of rooms and finishes. If you don’t decide on your budget, you’ll end up making a ton of change orders.
Change orders are work items that need to be added or removed from the original set of plans. They’ll send your budget through the roof and drive your builder crazy! (Don’t do this, people!)
To help you prepare for the decisions you’ll have to make at each stage of the home-building process, and we’ve broken down the typical costs to build home into separate stages, beginning with site work and moving to the landscape—and even the final sales price. While we can’t read your mind and predict how much it will cost to build the house you have in mind, we can show you what costs to expect and when. Let’s dive in!
It’s All In The Design And Planning
Most of your cost-saving exercises will take place during the design and planning phase of the project. A thoroughly well-considered design that’s weighed up all cost ramifications could save you a fortune! It’s well worth taking the time to find a good architect to get this bit right. Their fee is a small percentage of the build cost, but the right design can end up saving you more money overall (as well as providing you with a home you’ll love!) So, behind every great project is a great architect and we asked some of our architects on Design for Me to share their tips on the cheapest way to build a house:
Keep The Geometry Simple
A surefire way to add additional costs to your self-build would be to start with a fussy plan, full of curves and complexities. Labour will represent a big chunk of your self-build costs, so it’s worthwhile interrogating every aspect of the design. For each detail or junction, your architect should think: how complex (and costly) is this to build?
Consider Your Construction Method And Materials Carefully
There’s no one ‘cheap’ solution here, and you should weigh up this decision against factors other than the cost of the materials. Durability, life-span and maintenance will all affect the overall cost of your house over a given period. Do you imagine living in this house for the next 25 years? 50 years? 100 years? A cheaper construction now may not result in the cheapest overall cost during its life-span. A similar argument can be made for the build’s eco-credentials. For example, it may be well worth spending a little more getting some efficient insulation in the walls to keep your heating bills down for years to come!
Labour can account for a high proportion of overall costs, so you may consider doing it yourself as much as you can. This decision will certainly affect the construction method you go for.
According to Homebuilding.co.uk, for a ‘good’ quality 100m2 house in the SE of England, it’s 18% more expensive to have a main contractor to build and manage the project, than going the DIY route with only some help from cubbies. Hitch Property Constructions has the best range of renovations services to help you create your dream house.
Be efficient With Floor Area.
Square footage is, of course, a significant contributor to the cost our your self build, and with the help of your architect, it’s worthwhile finding clever ways to reduce the footprint but still get your wish-list. However, you will find that economies of scale come into play, so each additional square foot should cost slightly less than the previous one!
Open plan living is ever more popular in new homes, and with good reason; it brings in more natural light and provides a more sociable living environment. However, huge unobstructed spaces can end up being very costly due to the additional structure (usual steels in the ceiling) required. There are ways around this, like adding columns to reduce steel spans. These columns or structural walls will need to be carefully placed to ensure they have minimal impact on the flow of spaces/views etc. Again, this is where a good architect will come into their own!
Tips for Getting the Most House for Your Money
Build a two-story house
The two most expensive parts of any house are the foundation and the roof. When you build two stories, you can double the floor area while halving the costly square footage of the foundation and the roof.
Think inside the box
The least expensive homes are simple rectangles and squares. You can add curb appeal with great colours and a few attractive architectural flourishes, such as a great front porch.
Keep the roof simple.
Complex roof lines not only add high cost but the risk of future leaks. A simple, not-too-steep roof will protect your investment over time.
Centralise the plumbing
Try to locate your heavy plumbing areas — the kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms — in close proximity to each other, reducing the cost of running costly plumbing pipes all over the house.
Spend more on insulation
A well-sealed and insulated house will not only save energy in the long run, but it will save you money upfront by allowing you to install smaller heating and air-conditioning equipment.
Mix and match
Don’t limit your appliance and fixture choices to one brand. It’s perfectly okay to combine brands to buy best-deal appliances and fixtures. I recommend the stainless-steel finishes, which mirror the surrounding colours.
If you’re going to cheap out, go cheap only on easy-to-replace items, such as surface-mount light fixtures and vanity faucets, but never on built-ins, such as the tub and shower valve, and recessed lights.
Phase the finishes
To get high-end finishes you want but cannot afford all at once, phase them in overtime. Plan your ideal finishes but break the work (and expense) down into stages. You can finish a kitchen without cabinet knobs and pulls and install them next year, or paint the countertop backsplashes and tile them later.
A room with a view
Small homes will feel bigger when you open them up with a view of the outdoors. Place large picture windows in direct view as you enter a room, and it will feel larger. Don’t have a great view? Create one with latticework and vines, a small fountain or a small patch of flowers.
Bring the outdoors inside.
An easy way to make small entertainment areas work over time is to expand them. Try adding relatively inexpensive decks and patios with direct access to living and family rooms.
Tips for building your house on a small budget
Whether you want to build a bar counter indoors or fixed seating outdoors, masonry furniture that uses bricks, stone or cement as a base is not only economical but also durable. It’s especially a good idea for the outdoors where the furniture is exposed to natural elements.
Instead of stone or ceramic tiles, consider using cement flooring to keep costs down. It’s easy to maintain and is a perfect option for a rustic home. Besides being easy to install, a concrete floor can also be decorated with mosaic tile borders or a coat of paint to brighten up the home.
Walls with cement
Concrete can also be used on walls to give a room a modern industrial look. It’s an affordable option compared to ceramic tiles and is maintenance-free too.
Pallets for walls
In recent years, wooden pallets have gained popularity as an eco-friendly alternative to traditional wood cladding on walls. Besides being cost-effective for a low budget house, they come with the advantage of matching classic and contemporary homes alike.
Exposed brick finish
In addition to adding warmth to the home’s ambience, exposed brick does away with the cost of plastering and painting the walls. This is also an option while renovating as you can remove the plaster and paint to give your home a rustic feel using the open-brick treatment on the walls.
Wood is an ideal material to use for building roofs over the terrace or as deck flooring in the outdoors because it adds to the natural aesthetics of the design. Instead of using new wood, you can recycle old planks and beams to lower costs. Since it’s an easy material to work with, if you have the skills for it, you can even opt for D-I-Y projects with wood to minimise expenses.
You can build your home Lego-style, using readymade concrete blocks. They are a low-cost alternative and are simple to construct with.
Visible pipes and fixtures
Exposed pipes and fixtures are a common feature of the modern industrial bungalow design. However, they are functional too, as it’s easy to identify and fix leaks or pipe bursts. Additionally, you save on the expenses involved in plastering to cover them.
Reuse and recycle
Whether it’s your furniture, furnishings or décor accessories, you can make a significant saving by recycling. Convert pallets or old wood into a sofa frame or coffee table. Hit garage sales or thrift shops to find accessories that go with the style of your home.
For centuries bamboo has been used for implementing low budget house plans, and even today, it is widely preferred by many. It is quite common to find interior designers using bamboo for the ceiling and railing as it is robust, durable and easy to work with. Besides the ceiling, it can also be used as a flooring or roofing material. Most importantly, unlike other building materials, bamboo poses no danger to health. Check out our range of Melbourne home renovations for your dream house.
S House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects
This prototype for low-cost housing in Vietnam combines lightweight structure and durability. The aim is to develop a template for affordable permanent dwellings in the Mekong Delta area.
The prototype was for a lightweight steel-framed home, while the second was built from precast concrete to offer greater long-term stability. This third iteration combines reinforced concrete foundations with a steel frame and steel lattice walls.
Happy Cheap House by Tommy Carlsson
Swedish architect Tommy Carlsson has completed an affordable prefabricated home near Stockholm that is clad in corrugated iron and resembles a cube with some of its corners cut off. Tommy Carlsson developed the Happy Cheap home as a prototype for a low-cost and space-efficient update of the prefabricated homes that are common throughout Sweden’s suburbs.
The house was built on the 65-square-metre site using a prefabricated modular frame of laminated plywood that can be assembled quickly on-site, reducing the total cost of the project to just over 150k euros.
Casa Invisible by Delugan Meissl
The mirrored surfaces of this modular housing unit in Slovenia, by Austrian studio Delugan Meissl, help it to blend in with the surrounding countryside. Casa Invisibile is a prototypal dwelling developed by Delugan Meissl to confront issues in the modern housing market, including soaring prices and the availability of appealing plots.
Two prototypes produced by the studio and installed in Slovenia have dimensions of 14.5 metres by 3.5 metres, making it possible to transport them to the site directly from the factory on a lorry.
The buildings are manufactured using a prefabricated timber structure that reduces costs and allows them to be erected using a turnkey solution.
Why is it important we have cheap homes to build?
There needs to be a variety of options for the diverse demographics that are attempting to enter the real estate market. Whether it be first home buyers or those with many investment properties, cheap homes need to exist as a realistic alternative so that anyone can own and build a home.
Is it possible to build a cheap home?
What’s the cheapest way to build a house in Australia? It’s likely a question that has crossed many a homeowner’s mind who has grand plans to build a new home.
There’s no denying it, building a home is generally going to be a somewhat costly experience. But if you want to stick to a budget, it is possible. And you don’t have to compromise on your home’s integrity or quality either.
It is possible to build a cheap, and there are many options when doing so if one plans and researches correctly. Another added option is tiny houses. While you can buy a prefabricated dwelling or a customised small house on wheels, you can save a bundle if you make your tiny house yourself.
For low-cost house plans with estimates within a small budget, professionals often consider laminate a great choice when it comes to flooring. Besides being inexpensive, it is easy to maintain and can act superior to stone when a cold feeling is not preferred underfoot. Also, laminate is resistant to stains and scratches; however, the seams between the planks are prone to water damage. Above all, its fine texture adds the required amount of warmth and enhances the beauty of homes that have a rustic setting.