Home Construction Tips

How do you build a low-cost house?

Building a home – no matter what size—is increasingly more expensive, not just because of real estate prices, but also due to the cost of building materials. When it comes time to build, most people typically think about more traditional construction materials such as wood, concrete and bricks. By getting creative with the types of materials, you choose, however, it’s possible to choose cheap building materials that will help lower the cost of your new home.

When you seek out how to build a cheap house, take a look at alternative materials for the construction of the entire home or various parts. We’ve rounded up a selection of the most common types of materials that can be used when looking for cheap homes to build.

Depending on where you live, the kind of climate you have and what your local building codes are, some of these materials may be options for your new home. In addition to being cheap building materials, many of them are also more environmentally friendly than traditional ones.

It’s beautifully easy to miss a budget-friendly modern home these days. That’s because some of the cheapest constructions are the most forward-thinking ones. Newer technologies provide the opportunity for a more streamlined construction process that saves in the cost of the materials, transportation and installation. There are new ideas in the world of recycled and upcycled materials too. 

Whatever style you love, it’s always good to remember that newer constructions are generally much smarter than older homes when it comes to energy efficiency. So although some may cost a little more in the short term, the running costs are generally far lower.

Come with us now and see if our five low-cost home build tips could help you to construct the perfect house, within a budget that you can manage! At HP Constructions, we have the best home constructions selection to make your house a dream come true.

What Makes a House “Low-Cost”?

Before we take a look at how to build a low-cost house, let’s define it. A low-cost house is a house built with the same structural integrity as any other home but built with lower fees and cost.

Home Construction Tips

There are no changes as to how the house will be constructed. The foundation will be laid as mandated for every home, and proper construction will be done from the exterior to the interior effectively.

Certain elements make a low-cost house desirable:

  • Low cost of maintenance. Such homes will not be built with hard-to-install and hard-to-maintain materials that would cause maintenance headaches in the future.
  • Affordable pricing on the home. Nothing screams affordable more than the low-cost techniques used to build such homes.
  • Use of similar yet quality alternatives to building the home. Skills and technology will be used but on the minimal to reduce the overall cost of the home.

Low-cost houses are slowly becoming an alternative to owning homes by many individuals. Between high prices and an unwavering economy, low-cost homes are the solution.

How to build a low-cost house

Keep your design simple.

It sounds like such a simple piece of advice, but it really is key! If you start exploring unusual, difficult to replicate or fussy designs, not only will your architect costs soar, the construction phase will drag on and cost a bomb too! The simpler your building design, the less it should cost to create! This doesn’t mean that you need to cull the number of bedrooms you need, just that they should be in a logical position!

Think carefully about your building materials and construction methods.

When it comes to choosing materials and having them put together into a solid structure, there isn’t one ‘cheap’ option, but you can weigh up the pros and cons of different ideas to find a cost-effective solution that will suit you in the long-term. Durability, life-span and maintenance are all factors that will affect the overall cost of your house, so how long are you planning to live in it? If you are building a forever home, skimping on the construction materials and methods now makes no sense at all, as you’ll pay the price later anyway. 

Consider your labour expenses.

Construction labour will always account for a huge proportion of your project’s budget, which is why you might consider trying to do as much as possible yourself! As long as you have a modicum of DIY experience, you should be able to crack on with some of the less exciting endeavours, while bringing in subcontractors to tackle more specialist jobs. This method could save you up to 18%, in comparison to having a main contractor on site, doing everything! Finding the right home constructions company Melbourne is an important decision. Check out our range of the best home design constructions at Hitch Property Constructions.

Get clever with your floor plans.

The larger the house you commission, the more it will cost you to build it. That’s simple mathematics, but if you give your architect a little creative licence, they will be able to come up with a potential design that will include everything you want but on a smaller scale. We’re talking about maximising the potential for multifunctional rooms and recognising where you can afford to scale back.

Be savvy about space planning.

Open-plan living is becoming so popular right now, but it can be exceptionally costly, what with all the additional specialist structural elements that will need to be built-in. If you want the open look, but have a budget to work with, adding just a few columns or semi-walls will dramatically reduce your bills, while still maintaining a beautiful and unconstrained aesthetic.

Cheap Building Materials for a New Home on A Budget

Prefabricated panels

One of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to build a house is to use panels that have been prefabricated. Most of these panels come as part of a system that lets you build a custom home for a lot less. Although an entirely prefabricated house is one of the cheap homes to build, the panels offer a lot more flexibility in the building as well as materials.

Prefabricated panels save on labour costs and time. They also significantly reduce on-site waste removal costs and eliminate material cost overruns and delays because of weather or shortages of materials. Homes constructed with these panels have speedier construction as well as a tighter fit among the sections because everything was done indoors in advance. Today’s prefabricated panels can easily be incorporated into a design made especially for the homeowner and certainly don’t look prefabricated.

House-made from built mnmMOD panels

Lest you think that prefabricated equals a plain and boxy design, this gorgeous 2,500-square-foot home, conceived by Minarc of Santa Monica, California, was built with prefabricated components. The mnmMOD panels used are the company’s own prefabricated building system that is award-winning and patented. More than just affordable, it yields net-zero energy efficiency.

The panels are essentially a “kit-of-parts prefab house system” that uses Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) that Minarc describes as being like an ice-cream sandwich with recycled-steel-framing surrounded by Gypsum board and a waterproof exterior membrane.

They come filled with air-tight expanded polystyrene insulation and all necessary mechanical and electrical components. This helps reduce heat loss and gain, resulting in a home that has a lower carbon footprint. SIP panels contain a high percentage of recycled material and can be dissembled and reused. Even better: they are fire- and -termite-resistant. Check out our extensive range of home designs at Hitch Constructions.

Concrete sheets

Concrete has become very popular for the exterior of residential homes and concrete sheets – or panels – are an easy way to achieve the concrete look for less. Among cheap building materials, concrete panels are a stylish option that makes having a concrete exterior a lot easier. Concrete sheets are quicker to install and are super secure and stable. These panels have been very popular around the world and are now gaining attention in the United States as well.

Concrete panels have lots of advantages, such as durability, weatherproof qualities, sound suppression and insulation properties. Because they are prefabricated, they also carry the benefits of general prefabricated panels. Moreover, concrete panels are fireproof! All of these benefits also help save money on utilities as well as insurance, making concrete panel houses one of the cheap homes to build.

Stone cladding

Stone homes are gorgeous, but they are definitely not among the cheap homes to build. One way to get the look with less cost is to use stone cladding. Cladding is like a veneer that is applied to the exterior of the home. It is typically lighter than a standard stone exterior and consequently costs much less because of savings on labour as well as materials.

Stone cladding can be used for the entire façade of the house or just a portion, such as the base of the home or the chimney. It can be rustic or modern and can mimic different types of stone finishes. It also comes in different thicknesses. Much as new tile can alter the look of a bathroom, cladding is also a way to change the look and style of a home without building anew. This makes it one of the cheap building materials when you’re on a budget.

Rural house with stone cladding

Stone has always been a popular building material as you can see in this vacation house in Aldeia de João Pires, Portugal. Renovated from an ancient community oven that the family had owned for decades, it is now a single bedroom vacation house with spaces for family gatherings.

Architects HBG Arquitectos created a home fit for both the cold winters and intensely hot summers. The stone exterior blends with the town and surroundings while it contrasts with the cozy, contemporary interior. The dichotomy of the light and bright interior with the heavy stone structure shows how versatile this material can be. 

Used shipping containers

The tiny home movement has resulted in a surge of interest in shipping containers as one of the cheap homes to build. Of course, using shipping containers as a cheap building material doesn’t mean you need to have a tiny house. These units can be combined to create a larger structure for a roomier home.

While used shipping containers are one of the more environmentally friendly ways how to build a cheap house, there are things to keep in mind if you choose to use them for home building. Because they have been on long sea voyages, rust, dents and other damage can be a concern, which is why people often opt for “one-trip” containers.

Although they are slightly more expensive, they are generally in much better condition. Shipping container homes still need insulation and will have costs associated with shipping them to your home building site. Regardless, with the proper research and planning, used shipping containers can be a very desirable cheap building material for your new home.

Tiny Shipping Container Home

The use of shipping containers for home construction has been gaining in popularity and why not: It’s a perfect example of adaptive reuse and meshes well with the tiny house trend. A container home is also super affordable because there is no foundation to lay or roof to raise.

This stylish tiny house is a great example of what they can look like – which is to be nothing like the original container. A company which specialises in building container homes makes a variety of models that all start with a single-trip shipping container. Inside, they’re convenient and cozy, while on the outside, they’re clad in wood. A larger model has a second container on top – a 20-foot size –that acts as a second floor and creates a rooftop deck.

Reclaimed timber

Reclaimed timber is not only one of the most common cheap building materials, but it is also one of the trendiest. Whether it’s shiplap or rough-hewn timber, this type of timber can be an extremely stylish choice for building a new home. Old timbers are usually more durable and dried out, which means they are less likely to warp or split.

In addition to increased visual appeal, environmental benefits are also one of the reasons to use reclaimed timbers. Each piece is unique and will likely have an irregular shape – which can also be a challenge in sourcing materials and construction. While you can achieve cost savings on materials, know that there can be a greater up-front time investment in locating and using reclaimed timber.

Modern timber home

Lots of houses are built from wood, but here is one that is quite literally all timber. Designed by Kühnlein Architektur, the Timber House sits on a high plateau in Upper Palatinate, in Bavaria, Germany. Encompassing two sections, the layout creates two yards: One you see from the street as you enter and the other a private terrace facing the landscape.

At first glance, you might think that the façade has no windows, but it actually does. Those facing the street are screened by the timber facade, which is entirely constructed from untreated larch wood. The all-wood theme continues on the interior, where the exposed wooden framework, floors, as well as tables, cabinets and other pieces are entirely crafted from wood. All hardware in this home is exposed to copper and copper piping, including electrical installations, so no holes in the walls were required.

Corrugated metal sheets

If you want to know how to build a cheap house, take a look at corrugated metal sheets. Once used for purely industrial purposes, these have really gained in popularity with the growth in industrial style. These metal sheets have plenty of advantages besides cost. Steel is very durable and stands up to harsh weather conditions, fire and rot.

It is one of the easiest types of materials to maintain because all it needs is a fresh coat of paint or zinc coating to prevent rust. It’s also totally recyclable. That said, it can be more difficult to work with because it is heavy and is not the best insulator, which can affect utility costs.

Building a Low-Cost House

Ever heard of prefab homes? These are modernised low-cost homes that come with subsidised rates of building. A good example is the shipping container homes.

Prepare the Budget Beforehand

It’s never a good idea to jump the gun, but failing to plan means you are planning for failure. The budget could aid you to get ahead of many factors.

Statistics have shown that on average, 80 per cent of shipping container homeowners spent their budget on buying the shipping container itself. There are two options available to the buyer—a new or used container.

While a used container may be cheap, factors like health hazards and structural problems could cost you more on repairs and replacements than buying a new one.

Depending on the budget, choose one that will best suit your needs. Besides, that is not the only expense to be realised. There are other fixture and fittings plus other interior finishes to be done, still under that budget.

It is also advisable to spare some few pennies on the side for emergencies. There are no certainties while building. And with many tools being used in the process, accidents may arise that may need you to step up and take charge of the situation.

To keep up with your budget, you can use a record keeper to take note of all the expenditures you will incur. Otherwise, you run the risk of spending more money than you had planned for.

Simplify the Home Design and Structure

A cheap house plan is what you need to build a low-cost house. When working with a tight budget, certain areas can be improvised to save up on costs. But on the other hand, structure features may need close attention to ensure they are placed correctly regardless of the cost.

The design of the house has to deal with the number of rooms you wish to have. From a simple bedsitter to a guesthouse, one-bedroom to even four bedrooms with a double story.

Complex designs that feature open layout plans with balconies for every room and other interior designs may be expensive. Settle for something more simple even though you desire a big house.

Take note only to improvise and second guess on any other house elements besides the structure. One amazing fact about the shipping containers is that it can withstand harsh environmental conditions. If you compromise the structure, it could cost you dearly.

Choose a Cost-Effective Shipping Container

As you have read above, this is where you shall be placing the highest percentage of your budget. For that reason, certain factors have to be addressed.

  • Choosing a used shipping container requires you to view the container and check for its structural integrity personally. Being out in the sea transporting cargo for a while could make the container less durable.
  • Pick containers from similar brands if you will be purchasing more than one. Like any other product, different brands have their own way of making things. Containers operate the same way. Rigidity could differ as well as chemical components and the general make of the container.
  • Check for hazardous chemicals, regardless of being new or used. Transporting via the sea could mean they have been transporting hazardous chemicals. The chemicals used may be poisonous for human habitation.

Plan Adequately for the Build

Ninety per cent of architectural goodness comes from planning. All costs can be tabulated and accounted for at once without hustle. Planning refers to coming up with a comprehensive checklist which you will use to ascertain that all the issues have been taken care of.

From the plan, you can decide on a few things necessary for the build.

  • Cheaper shipping containers.
  • High end but low-cost materials.
  • Affordable workforce.

In most cases, people may opt to involve a financial planner—one who will keep track of all the transactions. But then, who will pay the planner? Take this task upon yourself for the perfect result.

Ensure you plan for all things legal as well. Building permits may also cost you a considerable amount of money if not adequately planned for.

Choose the Building Materials Wisely

From the foundation up, the modification takes a lot of materials to make the perfect transformation from a container to a home. While the turnaround time is relatively fast, anything complex could mean more money as well as time to execute it perfectly.

Materials could include wood used for framing doors and windows for the fixtures, bathroom and toilet utilities, electric and waterworks, among other small appliances.

To be on the lower side of money, you can choose to use less wooden beams for framing or a less expensive door. A cheaper type of insulation besides the fibreglass, use a cell spray foam.

The interior could also be improvised by the use of cheaper doorknobs and water faucets. Probably don’t install solar heaters or panels at the house as you can choose to upgrade the home later on.

As long as the work is well done and quality work is achieved. You can always work in the money sector.

Cut Out Some Building Processes

Mistakes are inevitable, but if you can prevent any mistakes from taking place, the better. More often than not, some sections of the container may be cut off in the process, and when fitting arrives, the steel falls short. Meaning you will need to purchase the replacement.

With a small budget, these issues could strain the budget further than it already is. This also goes for changes in the design due to mistakes. Avoid such.

Welding should also be on the low side. The process is very expensive, probably due to the technique used. In this case, if you can avoid certain welding operations, do it.

Contract Professionals

There is no need to DIY your home and get awful results. There have been successful trials, but others have fallen flat leading to damages that need repairs costing you more than you had budgeted for.

A professional can guide you through all the stages of building your home and advising you on the proper routes to take to save your money.

From purchasing a container, depending on the already formulated plan, the contractor and engineer could guide you on the best pick to use. Buying a 40 feet container could be cheaper than buying two 20 feet containers.

This will not only be a waste of resources but of money as well. A contractor could help you choose and apply the best tools, materials, and techniques to get you the perfect finish.

To ascertain that you will be contracting the right professional for the job, count on word of mouth, references, and recommendations.

The cost of building a home could be as high or as low as you want. Without regards to how deep your pockets run, simple features like the design and structure of your home could render you bankrupt fast.

But a keen eye on the above tips could save you more money on your shipping container home than you can imagine.

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