How to Build a Home on a Budget


Deciding to build your own home is an exciting but daunting prospect and doing so when you have limited funds presents you with a unique set of challenges. You are building your home, so you want it to be suited to your lifestyle and be functional, sturdy, and long-lasting, but you also need to keep your costs to a minimum.

The key to this is in the design of the property, the materials you choose, and the cost of labor. If you are thinking of building your own home, but you have a tight budget, these tips might help to minimize your costs.

Light grey house and front yard
Used with permission of Andrea West Design

Build on a small footprint

The smaller the home, the cheaper the project will be as you will need fewer materials and the build will take less time. A small home will also be cheaper to maintain, heat, and cool. Building a small house, however, takes lots of planning as you need to ensure that it can meet the needs of your family lifestyle.

It is best to get some professional help when making your small house plans to ensure that you have got the right balance between cost and adequate living space.

Use reclaimed materials

Reclaimed building materials are significantly cheaper than their new counterparts, and in many cases, they are exceptionally high in quality. Buying old furniture or structures could provide timber that can be repurposed in your home. It is important, however, to ensure that the materials you use are safe and will last, or they may end up costing you more money and time in the long term.

Pair of armchairs and coffee table with vase and green plants in living room
Used with permission of Andrea West Design

Negotiate prices

In addition to (or instead of) using reclaimed materials, you could find significantly discounted prices on materials by shopping around and negotiating. In some cases, suppliers may have odd items that they cannot sell on, or they may be willing to offer a discount if you are buying in bulk. Ask friends and family members if they have any contacts in the building industry who might be able to help.

Choose a natural building method

There are many natural building methods that are not only better for the planet but also cheaper than traditional materials in many cases. Possible options include cob, strawbale, earthbags, and cordwood, but you need to do lots of research about their advantages and disadvantages before you make your choice. Click here for more on natural building methods.

Home office with a mirror on the wall behind the desk
Used with permission of Andrea West Design

Embrace the DIY approach

A surprising amount of the costs involved in building a home come from paying tradespeople and laborers to carry out the work. It stands to reason that completing the labor by yourself will keep your costs lower. You may not have much experience in building a home, and while some aspects of the build should be left to the professionals, there are lots of jobs that you can research and finish yourself.

For example, the main structure of the build, plumbing, heating, and electricals, need to be completed by professionals, but internal plastering, flooring, tiling, and fitting fixtures could be a DIY project. Thanks to Carol Trehearn for consulting on this post.


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