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Low Cost Housing

Low Cost Housing is a new concept which deals with effective budgeting and following of techniques which help in reducing the cost construction through the use of locally available materials along with improved skills and technology without sacrificing the strength, performance and life of the structure.There is huge misconception that low cost housing is suitable for only sub standard works and they are constructed by utilizing cheap building materials of low quality.The fact is that Low cost housing is done by proper management of resources.Economy is also achieved by postponing finishing works or implementing them in phases.

Building Cost
The building construction cost can be divided into two parts namely:
Building material cost : 65 to 70 %
Labour cost : 65 to 70 %
Now in low cost housing, building material cost is less because we make use of the locally available materials and also the labour cost can be reduced by properly making the time schedule of our work. Cost of reduction is achieved by selection of more efficient material or by an improved design.

Areas from where cost can be reduced are:-
1) Reduce plinth area by using thinner wall concept.Ex.15 cms thick solid concrete block wall.

2) Use locally available material in an innovative form like soil cement blocks in place of burnt brick.

3) Use energy efficiency materials which consumes less energy like concrete block in place of burnt brick.

4) Use environmentally friendly materials which are substitute for conventional building components like use R.C.C. Door and window frames in place of wooden frames.


5) Preplan every component of a house and rationalize the design procedure for reducing the size of the component in the building.

6) By planning each and every component of a house the wastage of materials due to demolition of the unplanned component of the house can be avoided.

7) Each component of the house shall be checked whether if it’s necessary, if it is not necessary, then that component should not be used.

Cost reduction through adhoc methods
Normally the foundation cost comes to about 10 to 15% of the total building and usually foundation depth of 3 to 4 ft. is adopted for single or double store building and also the concrete bed of 6″(15 Cms.) is used for the foundation which could be avoided.

It is recommended to adopt a foundation depth of 2 ft.(0.6m) for normal soil like gravely soil, red soils etc., and use the uncoursed rubble masonry with the bond stones and good packing. Similarly the foundation width is rationalized to 2 ft.(0.6m).To avoid cracks formation in foundation the masonry shall be thoroughly packed with cement mortar of 1:8 boulders and bond stones at regular intervals.

It is further suggested adopt arch foundation in ordinary soil for effecting reduction in construction cost up to 40%.This kind of foundation will help in bridging the loose pockets of soil which occurs along the foundation.

In the case black cotton and other soft soils it is recommend to use under ream pile foundation which saves about 20 to 25% in cost over the conventional method of construction.


It is suggested to adopt 1 ft. height above ground level for the plinth and may be constructed with a cement mortar of 1:6. The plinth slab of 4 to 6″ which is normally adopted can be avoided and in its place brick on edge can be used for reducing the cost. By adopting this procedure the cost of plinth foundation can be reduced by about 35 to 50%.It is necessary to take precaution of providing impervious blanket like concrete slabs or stone slabs all round the building for enabling to reduce erosion of soil and thereby avoiding exposure of foundation surface and crack formation.

Wall thickness of 6 to 9″ is recommended for adoption in the construction of walls all-round the building and 41/2 ” for inside walls. It is suggested to use burnt bricks which are immersed in water for 24 hours and then shall be used for the walls

Rat – trap bond wall
It is a cavity wall construction with added advantage of thermal comfort and reduction in the quantity of bricks required for masonry work. By adopting this method of bonding of brick masonry compared to traditional English or Flemish bond masonry, it is possible to reduce in the material cost of bricks by 25% and about 10to 15% in the masonry cost. By adopting rat-trap bond method one can create aesthetically pleasing wall surface and plastering can be avoided.

Concrete block walling
In view of high energy consumption by burnt brick it is suggested to use concrete block (block hollow and solid) which consumes about only 1/3 of the energy of the burnt bricks in its production. By using concrete block masonry the wall thickness can be reduced from 20 cms to 15 Cms. Concrete block masonry saves mortar consumption, speedy construction of wall resulting in higher output of labour, plastering can be avoided thereby an overall saving of 10 to 25% can be achieved.

Soil cement block technology
It is an alternative method of construction of walls using soil cement blocks in place of burnt bricks masonry. It is an energy efficient method of construction where soil mixed with 5% and above cement and pressed in hand operated machine and cured well and then used in the masonry. This masonry doesn’t require plastering on both sides of the wall. The overall economy that could be achieved with the soil cement technology is about 15 to 20% compared to conventional method of construction.

Doors and windows
It is suggested not to use wood for doors and windows and in its place concrete or steel section frames shall be used for achieving saving in cost up to 30 to 40%.Similiarly for shutters commercially available block boards, fibre or wooden practical boards etc., shall be used for reducing the cost by about 25%.By adopting brick jelly work and precast components effective ventilation could be provided to the building and also the construction cost could be saved up to 50% over the window components.

Lintals and Chajjas
The traditional R.C.C. lintels which are costly can be replaced by brick arches for small spans and save construction cost up to 30 to 40% over the traditional method of construction. By adopting arches of different shapes a good architectural pleasing appearance can be given to the external wall surfaces of the brick masonry.

Normally 5″(12.5 cms) thick R.C.C. slabs is used for roofing of residential buildings. By adopting rationally designed insitu construction practices like filler slab and precast elements the construction cost of roofing can be reduced by about 20 to 25%.

Filler slabs
They are normal RCC slabs where bottom half (tension) concrete portions are replaced by filler materials such as bricks, tiles, cellular concrete blocks, etc.These filler materials are so placed as not to compromise structural strength, result in replacing unwanted and nonfunctional tension concrete, thus resulting in economy. These are safe, sound and provide aesthetically pleasing pattern ceilings and also need no plaster.

For more on filler materials check Filler Materials Used in Concrete

Jack arch roof/floor
They are easy to construct, save on cement and steel, are more appropriate in hot climates. These can be constructed using compressed earth blocks also as alternative to bricks for further economy.

Ferrocement channel/shell unit
Provide an economic solution to RCC slab by providing 30 to 40% cost reduction on floor/roof unit over RCC slabs without compromising the strength. These being precast, construction is speedy, economical due to avoidance of shuttering and facilitate quality control.

Finishing Work
The cost of finishing items like sanitary, electricity, painting etc., varies depending upon the type and quality of products used in the building and its cost reduction is left to the individual choice and liking.


The above list of suggestion for reducing construction cost is of general nature and it varies depending upon the nature of the building to be constructed, budget of the owner, geographical location where the house is to be constructed, availability of the building material, good construction management practices etc. However it is necessary that good planning and design methods shall be adopted by utilizing the services of an experienced engineer or an architect for supervising the work, thereby achieving overall cost effectiveness to the extent of 25% in actual practice.

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Kanwarjot Singh

Kanwarjot Singh is the founder of Civil Engineering Portal, a leading civil engineering website which has been awarded as the best online publication by CIDC. He did his BE civil from Thapar University, Patiala and has been working on this website with his team of Civil Engineers.

If you have a query, you can ask a question here.

206 comments on "Low Cost Housing"

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Vikash says:

(1)Need your opinion regarding prism champion ppc cement.

(2)which is single best cement among PPC and PSC to build a 6 floor building (framestructure).

(3)please recommend one brand in ppc,,opc43&53 and PSC.

Dr vikash

sanjeev nahar says:

all brands ar equally good.
forfoundationuse psc, andif speedis not the constraint use any ppc brand

Arun Kumar Katiyar says:

i want to construct a low cost housing by using sheet at the top please suggest for the same

Sekar says:

I want to construct a house for app.1200 sq.ft in krishnagiri using gfrg tech.and would like to know the details regarding this and whom to contact?


Want to construct low cost fire proof – theft proof house on the land (around 21000 sq.ft.) owned by me in village – Girale Palghar dist around 60 kms from Mumbai and plant medicinal trees. Whom should i contact so as to execute my idea any govt. dept. in maharashtra or any agency who undertake such project with minimum cost of around Rs.3 to 4 lakhs.

Nagendra. says:

Planning to construct a house with precast method site is in Bangalore 16X40 3Floor Please help to get the estimation.

Yogish says:

Hi looking forward to construct a 2 bhk on 30×40 site please advice

Harvinder Singh says:

i want to make house in 1200 minimum cost…plz suggest

rajkumar panta says:

low cost in materails such as local materials sand,stone,bamboo for wall and cemented pillar inspite of wood,plz sent me for making earthquake resist home and budgeting of relief fund

Siddhartha says:

What is the best way to construct 2 study rooms above the first floor(Concert floor constructed). With minimal cost.

Shailesh Wagh says:

i want to install sloping roof for my bungalow. Its a high monsoon & wind area. There is no terrace. what is the best & economical alternative.

Emmanuel says:

If i use a plinth beam of height 15 cm reinforced with y 16 deformed bars,do i need to do a slab again when looking to reduce costs?

Logu thirumalai jacob says:

I want to construct individual house by using above points . Suggest good outgoing civil engineering student to build a villa in chennai.

Yesudas says:

What will be cost for 20/50 cheap rate house without compromising quality

John Febin Mathews says:

I have to construct a single storied load bearing house, as the soil is of low bearing capacity, i have to prefer pile foundation, For load bearing wall construction is it necessary to provide pile cap above the pile to connect the grade beam or can I directly provide the beam over the pile?

Kumaraswamy Boora says:

I am planning to build a low cost house for a painting institute in elegant manner in Hyderabad. Looking for architects/engineers who can guide me on this. Thx

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