Home Sustainable Living Affordable Housing 15 Cheap Building Materials for a New Home on A Budget

15 Cheap Building Materials for a New Home on A Budget

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 for 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.

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 building as well as materials.

According to Davis Frame Company, prefabricated panels save on labor 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 home owner and certainly don’t look prefabricated.

Concrete sheets

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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 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 labor as well as materials. Stone cladding can be used for the entire façade of the house or for 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.

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.

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. According to YR Architecture, 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 in construction. While you can achieve a cost savings on materials, know that there can be a greater up-front time investment in locating and using reclaimed timber.

Corrugated metal sheets

If you really 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.



If you live in an area that is conducive to using bamboo, it can be a cheap building material that comes with other benefits such as sustainability. Bamboo is one of the most renewable types of building materials as well as one of the strongest. It has been used in construction by Asian cultures for centuries. That said, if you are going to use bamboo in building your home, it is important to find a builder who knows how to use it as traditional joinery techniques cannot be used. In addition, it may not be suitable for dry climates because it can shrink or crack if there is not enough humidity in the air.

Industrial steel and iron

The popularity of industrial style is also making cheap building materials like industrial steel and iron equally popular. Steel Sustainability reports that cold-formed steel is great for residential construction because it doesn’t rot, warp, split, crack or creep. It lasts a long time and is completely recyclable. Steel framing is sturdier and can be very cost-efficient. It’s also a good choice for roofing because it lasts longer than many other types of roofing.

Traditional brick

Brick houses are very popular because they tend to last a long time. As long as you are not in an earthquake-prone area, brick can be one of the cheap homes to build. It is fireproof, stands up to inclement weather and creates a very quiet home interior. While it costs more than some other home options like vinyl siding, it is more durable and sturdier. May people also feel that it is more aesthetically pleasing.  Costs can vary with the type of bricks, but traditional red ones are very affordable. When budgeting for brick, make sure that you include installation because it is not a DIY project and needs to be done by a professional. If it’s not installed properly, the brick may be susceptible to damage or the weight could affect the stability of the foundation of the house.

Eco-friendly straw

Straw is a wonderful natural material with thermal and insulating properties, which make it a suitable building material. Oh, yes, it’s also on the list of cheap building materials that can save you money.  According to Building with Awareness, straw bales can be used to construct the walls of a home, creating a structure that is well insulated and environmentally friendly. The bales are thick, so the home’s walls will also be thick, however, they can be carved for customized openings for windows and doors. It may seem counterintuitive, but straw bales are also fire resistant thanks to their thickness. Again, climate can determine the viability of using straw for your home: Rainy, humid weather is not advised for straw bale home construction.

Fresh concrete

If you’re looking for how to build a cheap home, raw concrete may be just the building material for you. Concrete walls are water- and fire-proof, in addition to a healthier building choice. Because concrete doesn’t contain any organic materials, it won’t sprout mold or mildew. It creates a home that is energy efficient and quiet, and able to withstand floods and earthquakes. Among the cheap building materials, raw concrete is also low maintenance because it can be left in its natural state or simply painted.


We already reuse and recycle plastics for other consumer uses, why not for construction?  It’s one of the cheap building materials that is in plentiful supply. Today plastics are routinely used for roofing, insulation, window elements and plumbing fixtures. Creative architects and designers can also come up with novel ways to use this material in home construction, which can help develop plans for cheap homes to build. In certain areas of the world, people are building homes with empty plastic bottles that are used as construction material for the walls and more.


Yes, every house has elements of glass in the windows. But often, glass can be used as a building material. It’s highly desirable for the fact that it makes indoor space light and bright and when used as a major part of the structure, it creates a dramatic home. While it might not rank as highly among cheap building materials, it does have advantages for home construction such as being lightweight compared to other choices. There is also a wide range of types of glass available, from shatterproof to tempered glass and glass blocks.


It’s everywhere and easy to obtain:  Earth. We dig into the earth to make the foundation for our homes, but increasingly, home builders are either creating homes inside the earth or using earth for the walls of a home. Perhaps fueled by the hobbit houses of movie lore, some are opting to dig into the earth, using the natural walls formed by the ground as the confines of the home.  They are great because they use less energy and don’t need as many building materials.

Another option that uses earth is a home built from rammed earth, also called pisé. This , combination of earth, sand and clay is mixed and compacted using a rammer. These sections, along with insulation, for the walls of the home. Some new companies, such as Watershed Materials, are using the very dirt that is excavated from the home sit to create the earth walls.

Waste materials

Cheap building materials can be found among the wastes that society discards. Creative builders are using everything from cigarette butts to plastic bottles and rubble from previous buildings to create materials that can be used to build new homes. Also, some new homes are being constructed from discarded components from other homes, such as doors and windows that can be used to create walls for a new home. As creativity and technology continue to develop, more types of waste will be incorporated into building materials for cheap homes to build.

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