How to build a house as cheaply as possible

If you want a house that meets all current regulations, but you want it built as cost effectively as possible, then there are some rules you need to follow. You want to keep your build as simple as possible, this means you want to forget about flair and individuality, you want to keep your house square. By this I mean you want a 4 cornered square box. Also, if you want to know how to build a house you may assume you need to get on the phone with an architect and get them to design your new house for you. But if you did this you’d be making a mistake. Architects like designing things, they like figuring out problems and achieving beautiful finished products that others will admire for years to come. If you are building a house on the cheap you can even look up designs from a book of house plans, but if you’d prefer a professional to draw up a design, you should look to a surveyor.

Essential rules for how to build a low cost house

  1. As mentioned, do not be tempted to build a structure that has more than 4 external walls and 4 external corners. If you do you will have more complicated design plans and this will inevitably lead to longer build times. There will be knock on effects such as guttering and roofing, so stick to a 4 corner box plan.

  2. Following the pattern, you should stay clear of curved and round features. This will either result in longer build times or more expensive materials.
  3. While desirable, chimneys and other features that protrude out of the roof should be avoided. This also includes dormer windows etc.
  4. Do not use small tiles on your roof. Always use large low cost tiles, such as concrete. This will not only lower material cost, but also build cost as they are easier and quicker to lay, and also future repair and replacement costs.
  5. Use cheaper breeze blocks for the majority if the build, and only put face brickwork on the external walls. Smaller brickwork works out more expensive to cover the same area, and it is also significantly more time consuming to lay hundreds of smaller bricks than it is to lay big breeze blocks.
  6. Put dreams of multi floored or spiral staircases to bed, you should only put in simple, straight staircases in your build. Anything other than simple and straight involves some level of customisation, which costs in both design and build time.
  7. You need land to build your house on, so when choosing a suitable location make sure there are no hidden complications (maybe easier said than done, if they are hidden!). What I mean is avoid complicated sites if possible, such as spaces on a big slope, or soft unstable ground that would involve a lot of digging and more extensive foundation work.
  8. Keep your plumbing systems simple. Central heating is essential so of course this should be fitted, but keep it standard. Do not go for underfloor heating or any custom plumbing systems that are popular on the continent.
  9. Along similar lines to point number 8, do not be tempted by green options. Solar panels, energy conserving heating or water systems etc. Any salesperson can list a million and one benefits of having a green or eco house, and they are probably right. But, here we are looking at building a house as cost effectively as possible, and most green or eco features benefit you in the longer-term, but have a significantly higher initial install and setup cost.
  10. Inside the house fancy kitchens are probably one of the most desirable features you have. You can have a nice looking kitchen of course, but you should stick to buying them from large retail companies such as IKEA or B&Q. If you venture off the beaten track and go to more specialist or high end kitchen companies, the price will inevitable go up since the products will be manufactured in smaller quantities and the companies need to make all their money off their kitchen products. The larger retail companies that stock a large variety of products, of which kitchens are only a small part, can lower their costs.
  11. For bathrooms, see above and replace kitchen with bathroom.
  12. Windows can get very expensive. We are talking about several thousand pounds. So to keep costs down choose simple plastic windows for your build. Also, on the subject of windows, keep them regulation sized. Do not go for large glazed feature windows because this means customisation and more complicated fitting costs (including initial brickwork and fixation).
  13. You need to keep your inner designer (or child) to the back of your mind when building your house as cost effectively as possible. So home cinema rooms, expensive cooking ranges, handmade products (including bricks and tiles), built-in cupboards, hardwood flooring, extensive networking cables, luxury lighting, and vintage furniture are all a no no.


The above list may seem like you are building the world’s most boring house, but in reality you are building a solid, to regulation, house for as little money as possible. The build time will be quick, so labour, re-payment costs etc. will be kept to a minimum. Effectively, when your build is finished you will have what looks like a council house from 50 years ago.

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