New building materials to keep construction costs low

The cost of construction has been a pivotal factor when it comes to building a dream home. There are several ways to cut the costs and the primary area where the costs can be tamed is the materials. However, the biggest fear is whether quality and strength of the building will be at stake when alternate materials are opted. Architect Soni Sooraj of Capellin Projects, Kozhikode, lists a few construction materials, which can reduce the costs with out compromising on the quality and strength of buildings. Depending on the locality where our house has been planned to come up and the climate, some of these materials will really help us keep the cost of construction low.

GFRG panels

GFRG (glass fibre reinforced gypsum) wall panel is made of gypsum plaster reinforced with glass fibres. The panels are hollow and can be used as load bearing walls. The hollow core inside the walls can be filled with in situ plain or reinforced concrete. The entire building (walls, slab, staircase, parapet walls) can be made using GFRG and thus completely avoid the use of burnt clay bricks. This reduces labour time by about 65% and construction time by 82% . Panels come with great surface finish and thereby eliminate the need for plastering. This reduces the overall construction cost by one-fourth.

Prefabricated panels

Using prefabricated panels is one of the quickest and most cost effective ways of building construction. This save a tremendous amount of labour cost and time. This also reduces the cost of onsite waste removal. This eliminates overruns of material costs and delays caused by bad weather or material shortage.


Bamboo is a cheap building material with added benefits such as sustainability. Bamboo is the most renewable and strongest of building materials. It can address our climatic concerns by reducing the CO2 content of the air and increasing the O2 content. India has second largest bamboo reserve in the world.

Fly ash bricks

The mixing proportion of fly ash brick is generally 40-50% of fly ash, 50-40% of sand, 10% of lime and 4% of water. Fly ash reacts with lime in the presence of moisture to form calcium silicate hydrate which is the binder material. The raw mix is moulded in the moulding press/machine, pressed under a pressure into bricks. Same number of fly ash bricks will cover more area than clay bricks. Fly ash bricks have high fire insulation. Fly ash bricks don't generally break during transportation as they are very strong. Due to uniform size of fly ash bricks the requirement of mortar is reduced by 50%. Gypsum plaster can be directly applied on these fly ash bricks without a backing coat of lime plaster. They do not require soaking in water for 24 hours and sprinkling of water before use is enough.

Bubble deck slab

Bubble deck slab is a method of virtually eliminating all concrete from the middle of a floor slab, which is not performing any structural function, thereby dramatically reducing structural dead weight. High density polyethylene hollow spheres replace the ineffective concrete in the centre of slab, thus decreasing the dead weight and increasing the efficiency of the floor. Introducing the gaps results in lighter slabs which thereby reduces the loads on columns, walls and foundation, and of course the entire building. The advantages are less energy consumption -both in production, transportation, less emission of exhaust gases from production and transport, especially CO2.

Terracotta hollow bricks

They are one of the best natural building materials for construction of eco-friendly and cost-effective buildings. Their usage can reduce cement consumption for the construction of wall. Cement consumption also comes as plastering of external or interior walls are not required. Instead of painting we can use one coat of clear varnish only on the external wall surface. Foundation, pillar and slab can be like any other concrete structure.

Shipping containers

The rising popularity of tiny homes has resulted in the surge of shipping containers as cheap homes. While used shipping containers are one of the most environment-friendly ways to build a cheap house, there are things to be kept in mind. They had been on long sea voyages, have rust, dents and other damages. That 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 transporting them to your home building site. Nonetheless, with proper research and planning, used shipping containers can be a very desirable cheap building material for your new home.

Waste or discarded materials

Cheap building materials can be found among waste materials. 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 houses, such as doors and windows that can be used to create walls for a new house. As creativity and technology continue to develop, new range of waste materials can be incorporated into the construction of cheap houses.

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