Mortgage Dove

10 Tips For Affordable Home Building

Many parts of the country make it difficult for home buyers to find affordable housing, leading to frustration. When that's the case, you might look for the cheapest way to build a house instead of competing in a hot market. Creating a budget-friendly home is certainly doable, and there are many options. Check out these tips for building a budget-friendly house.

1. Design your home.

An inexpensive home can be built by designing a simple box. Developing and creating a building with a square or rectangular floor plan is easier. If you need more space, consider making a multiple-story home since it is generally cheaper than a sprawling one-story one.

The exterior of a box-style home can be made more interesting by landscaping, shutters, lighting, and other decor options that aren't very expensive. The roof is another critical aspect of the home's design. Different roofing designs can affect Your home's price, believe it or not. If you choose a more straightforward roofing design, your house will cost less to build.

On average, $6,000 to $15,000 is needed to install a (nearly) flat roof on a 1,500-square-foot house. Installation costs for a gable roof, a typical two-pitch roof, range from $15,000 to $20,000 and can reach $30,000 when asphalt shingles are added. Even more complex, the Mansard roof - with a flat roof and multiple pitches - can cost between $30,000 and $60,000.

The cost of installing a roof depends on several factors, including the size of the house or roof, the materials used, the number of slopes, and the steepness and length of the slopes. It is also possible to increase the price by adding dormers.

2. Build a tiny house.

Tiny houses  are becoming popular because they are cheaper to build and can be moved if needed. Getting the cost benefits of a smaller house doesn't necessarily require buying a tiny home.

You will be charged per square foot for most materials and labor. You can make your dream house more affordable by reducing its square footage. For instance, the cost of building a 2,000-square-foot home will be much lower than that of a 3,000-square-foot home. In addition, if you create a tiny home, defined as being under 400 square feet, you'll save even more money.

Material costs for a tiny home range from $20,000 to $60,000. You may also need to purchase land for your tiny home, depending on whether it is mobile or stationary.

Many factors determine how much land costs, including where you plan to live, the features of the land, such as lakes, and its proximity to major cities. The USDA  estimates rural real estate will cost $3,380 per acre in 2021. Tiny houses are typically not eligible for mortgages, so you'll have to find alternative financing.

3. Work with an experienced home builder.

If you are working on a home building project, it is advisable to hire an experienced builder. A professional home builder might cost more than one with little to no experience. Still, the cost will likely be recouped during construction. You can save money and spend wisely with the help of an experienced builder. Since they've likely navigated problems in their careers, they can help you avoid them before they arise. There's a good chance they'll also come up with creative money-saving ideas.

4. Become a general contractor to save money.

Managing the home building process yourself can be a good option if you have building experience or an extensive network of skilled labor. A home plan can still be downloaded from the internet or worked out with an architect.

If you take on the contractor role, you can save money when building a house. One of the most cost-effective ways to build a home is by doing a significant portion of the work yourself. However, if this is your first time building a house, some of the work will still need to be done by subcontractors. If you don't know how to correct your mistakes, hiring a professional can save you more money in the long run than correcting them yourself.

5. Obtain approval for your design plans.

You can spend a lot of money waiting and redesigning your home. Getting permits is time-consuming and costly if you don't get all of them beforehand. You can also add significantly to the build cost if you make changes to your building plan during construction. That's why it's crucial to approve your goals early in the planning process. Additionally, you risk being fined or having to redo some of your already completed work if you don't obtain your city or county's approval first.

You should also get an approval letter from your lender if you still need to. It is usually possible to start construction without pre-approval in most states. Still, you might need help to secure your loan later.

6. Plan, budget, and price all items.

You don't want to be surprised by the costs at the end. Prepare a budget for your new home and estimate all of your expenses. A rough estimate at the beginning can be helpful throughout the entire construction process, even if it's imperfect.

Adjust your budget accordingly whenever prices change, or a cost is added. It is important to keep this document up-to-date as your plans change, so you can track your spending accurately and stay informed about your financial status. Suppose you're applying for pre-approval from your lender. In that case, they will ask about your budget at each stage, so it's best to have a rough one beforehand. Any construction loan or other type of financing will require a cost breakdown.

7. Pick building materials wisely.

The costs of building materials vary based on their type. It is possible to keep the project affordable by choosing cost-effective materials. To help you begin, let's consider a few important points.

Reclaimed Materials

Reclaimed materials like old barn doors and wood are trendy. Still, there's a practical reason they're so popular: they save money. Decorative items, wood floors, and doors that have been reclaimed are excellent choices. Looking for reclaimed materials but need help finding them? You can look on Craigslist, Planet Reuse, or a salvage store. There are even places where you can salvage old materials from homes being torn down.

Prefab Panels

Panels made from prefabricated materials are custom-built inside factories and transported to a building site. In this way, they can cut down on construction time and save money by building the walls inside and shipping them to the site ready for installation. Since you aren't paying extra labor to frame and build the walls, this can save you money.

Precast Concrete

Precast Concrete is poured into a mold, cured indoors, and shipped to the building site, just like prefab panels. Precast concrete is a cost-effective option compared to on-site pouring due to its simple usage and ability to avoid weather-related delays.

Shipping Containers

The structure of this alternative housing idea is made from old shipping containers. With this type of housing, you can save money on construction costs since the structure is already in place. It's essential to consider the modifications you need to make to the container so that it can be used as a living space, and the cost goes up if you use more than one container.


The main ingredients of cob are straw, clay, and subsoil. Since this earthen material is so thick, it provides energy-efficient and thermal benefits. You can also save a lot of money on material costs since most cob ingredients can be found for free on-site. A cheap house can also be built with a cob, as it lasts hundreds of years and only needs a new layer when it needs to be repaired.

8. Purchase materials at a discount.

You will spend a lot of money on materials (if not all of it). By cutting your materials budget, you can significantly reduce the cost of building your home. Check with each supplier to see if they offer a builder's discount when you start shopping. It doesn't hurt to ask, even if you don't purchase large quantities of materials. Your contractor can purchase your materials if you don't qualify for a discount. They may not charge a markup for that, depending on your relationship.

9. Include energy-efficient home features for rebates and taxes.

Everyone is going green when building for cost-saving reasons. Investing in energy-efficient materials such as improved insulation and high-efficiency windows may require a higher upfront cost. Still, it can ultimately result in cost savings for homeowners. Certain energy-efficient elements of your home may also qualify for rebates and tax breaks. Check if solar panels or wind energy are available in your area and if they are right for your property.

10. Do as much DIY as you can.

Do you wish you could afford specific finishes for your home? If you choose to do it yourself, you can save money, especially if you paint or lay flooring. However, not all DIY projects will save you money. Learning how to do big jobs like plumbing or electrical work may save you money in the long run, as hiring someone to fix your mistakes can be costly. Here are some videos you can watch and give it a try yourself.

Fast And Cheap Ways To Build A House

Building a house, whether cheap or fast, requires considerable planning. To build a house for cheap, you will need to choose a house plan that fits your budget, tools, and timeframe - on top of that, you will need to hire subcontractors. One way to save money when building a house is by doing some work yourself. Building a home is only sometimes affordable if you do it yourself because labor isn't cheap. It's unavoidable.

Which are the cheapest houses to build?

If you choose to build your own house, it's important to ensure that the chosen design is cost-effective and simple. Easy-to-build homes include several types. Some of these include:

  • Tiny Homes: Tiny homes, especially mobile homes and specialty homes, are easy to construct. Building a house with only 900 square feet inside should take a little time.
  • Shipping Crate Homes: These homes often appear in upscale magazines and trendy websites. Even though they may be trending because of their Earth-friendly reputation, they are also a good choice because they are easy to assemble.
  • E-Plan Homes: E-planning is another new source of affordable housing. Plans for e-plan homes are available online and designed to make creating a house as easy as possible.
  • Kit Houses : Kit houses are less common than they once were, but companies still offer them. Most house kits come with all the materials you'll need, including wood. By doing so, you can prevent later surprises.

Can you build a home for under $50,000?

Imagine you want to build your own home, but your budget  is lower than traditional buildings. Unless you can make your building code compliant, most people who want a house built for under $50,000 will have no luck. However, if you have that budget, you can build a house. Despite this, you won't have a fancy home, nor will it be an easy endeavor. Creating a legally habitable building requires cutting many corners, regardless of location.  

What are the advantages of building your own home?

When you plan correctly and hire the right help, it can be possible. This is still a case-by-case decision that needs to be made. Only you can determine if you are ready to build your own home. As an investment, it can save you money in the long run. However, you still need to plan, hire, and set standards if you want it to work.

The Bottom Line

Building a home can be a financially viable alternative for people considering buying a house. However, a pre-existing dwelling has many advantages over purchasing a new one. Although you may miss some chances to save, your overall expenses will be more consistent and predictable. To understand your options before deciding to build, you should learn more about the buying process. Start by learning more about prequalification.

"Mortgage Dove makes home financing convenient for every American. You can count on us to provide a home buying experience tailored to your personal needs and financial situation. We strive to give you the peace of mind that your home financing goals can be achieved.”


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