12 cheap building materials for a low-cost home

April Kennedy April Kennedy
CASA TRANSPORTABLE ÁPH80, ÁBATON Arquitectura ÁBATON Arquitectura Country style houses
Loading admin actions …

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. So, let's check out 12 cheap building materials perfect for a low-cost home!

1. Prefabricated panels

Prefabricated materials are the very first port of call if you're looking to save money. They are available in stunning designs these days and have emerged to become one of the most important housing trends in recent years.

2. Shipping containers

Shipping containers are extremely solid structures. They are so popular as a building material that several home building companies construct them from scratch just for this market. They are definitely cheaper than your standard home.

3. Recycled wood

Old building materials are no longer deemed redundant and thrown on the world's ever-growing trash pile. Instead, they are carefully combed over and the best pieces are prepared for reuse. This is a good choice if you love the historical feel of preloved materials.

4. Easily transportable materials

We just had to include another prefabricated or modular home. This gorgeous little home is made from materials that were prepared off-site and transported in a flat pack. That drastically cuts down on transportation costs.

5. Corrugated iron

Black corrugated iron can look very classy, particularly when it covers the whole facade. It's also one of the cheapest and lightest construction materials to transport.

6. Laminated bamboo

Bamboo is a classic budget-friendly building material. While it was once known as the poor man's lumber in much of Asia, it has finally been recognised by the international design community for its strength, flexibility and environmentally friendly qualities. Just beware of the kind of bamboo you buy. The most long lasting bamboo homes are used with bamboo harvested at a very specific point in the growing cycle. 

7. Short on-site construction

Homes are being built faster and faster these days. That has a drastic effect on the budget because some of the biggest costs involve labor. Again, a modular home will help cut down the construction time.

8. Iron beams

Iron beams can do double duty in a home design. They can form your base structure and they have a certain industrial chic quality so they can be decorative as well.

9. Simple brick

Bricks are quite a cheap construction material. The only caveat is that they are a little labor intensive to install and this will raise the costs of installation. In the long term however, brick is very cheap to maintain. It looks better for far longer than many other construction materials.

10. Straw roof

Straw has been used as a roofing material for thousands of years because it's often easily available. This means it's both cheap and light to transport. So your primary costs here come from the labor. In some parts of Asia it's a fairly common type of roof so a straw roof can be quite cheap to install.

11. Natural stone

Natural stone is an excellent insulator if you are concerned about excess heat. It really pays to explore local options because the main costs will involve transportation and installation due to its weight. But once you have made that initial investment, it will last forever.

12. Concrete

Concrete has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. It is the chic, go-to material for those looking for an industrial style home. It will last forever and looks beautiful once polished.

For more new ideas, have a look at Trends in 2017: what's next?

What building material caught your attention today?

Need help with your home project?
Get in touch!

Highlights from our magazine