Low Cost Housing

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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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  • Jijili May 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    I like & agree with ur article. Am a female 2nd yr student at the copperbelt university in zambia (southern africa) pursuing a bachelors degree in building science. For our studio project this term were suppose to design a low cost house. As prerequisite were suppose to write a report on the project. I would like more information pliz

    • Florence Wanjira November 2, 2012 at 4:24 am

      i used the soil made blocks and i found them to be too expensive compared to the stones.Blocks are substandard and are inferior.

    • AMRITH SAHADEO September 15, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      hello Jijili,

      i am in south africa and i have an innovative housing concept that may be of interest to many. its an alternate building system using eps technology. drop me a mail so that i can share more about this to you.

      regards, amrith sahadeo

  • abdulkadir j abdullahi May 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    hi! pls sir, can u help me wt some materials on my project topic, investigation of using compressed earth block for concrte lintel.thank’s sir, i wil b vry gr8tful.

  • Bijay Kumar July 9, 2012 at 9:33 am

    The cost of semi metro labour Rate without Material cost is 130/ Sq Mtr & Materials cost is 700/- sqmtr. this cost is suitable or what, Any Artitech person to be replied.

    • venki September 21, 2012 at 11:37 pm

      Above rates are not sufficient in my opinion. Labour cost Rs.170 to 200 / Sqft. Material Cost 700 to 900 / Sqft.

  • saikiran September 13, 2012 at 1:49 am

    I want to construct a Design of a house with 300sq.feet plinth area with the following field conditions The overall cost of the house should not exceed Rs.1.25L Type of soil: Black Cotton soil Field conditions:

    Extending upto a depth of (2-3)m.
    Swelling is less than 50%
    Water table is present at a depth of (100-200)ft.
    White Murrum soil is present below BC soil
    Climate : Tropical
    Structure of Event……how can i proceed

  • Ghufran Monim Pasha Khan Kandhari December 7, 2012 at 6:08 am

    thank for info!
    my question is related to same topic “what is difference b/w low cost housing system and low cost housing building.”
    my last year project is related to “low cost housing buildings” any one can help to get data, specified to PAKISTAN local material, i’ll be thank to you.

  • samiksha December 7, 2012 at 10:15 am

    can ny1 plz provide me some information on joshi bond and swastik bond…….

  • silambarasan January 2, 2013 at 11:23 am

    i like ur article but it very short .plz give more information about low cost construction methods

  • samson mutarisi April 1, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    this is awesome

  • prakash chandra nayak April 12, 2013 at 8:57 am

    How did u divided the labour and building material cost equally in %? Can u xplain me sir?

  • naveen April 14, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Regarding Low cost housing, is it possible to use soil concrete instead cement to build wall from locally available stone brick.

  • Shubha Srinivasan July 5, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Hi. We have plot which is odd in shape can we have a multi storied building on the same 3025″ corner site .do u undertake small projects and can the technique be used for multi storied..

  • Ajith July 26, 2013 at 4:37 am

    I want to construct a house of 1650sqm house in mangalore in which way I can reduce the cost of construction what materials can be used and how much quantity of sand is needed and cement is needed gravel is needed.
    Basement what depth is needed what type of stone should be used and what is its cost…
    materials in cheap where I can get in local …………………………………..

  • Amrinder Singh July 29, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Is there way to add columns to existing building.

  • kakar September 29, 2013 at 11:16 am

    i want to know more about low cost roofing for my house area is 550sqft

  • Md.Zahurul Islam November 23, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Dear,i have a small family living in Bangladesh at Joypurhat district.I want to build a two stored building which will be completed at present one stored.How can i complete the construction with cheapest cost.Specially what will be its construction materials and plan for the roof.

  • asrafali November 25, 2013 at 5:18 am

    Dear , can u send labour / material / machinery cost details for 25 laks estimated house

  • Malarkodi.K December 19, 2013 at 6:21 am

    very good

  • Fredrick Freds January 11, 2014 at 4:11 am

    good work!

  • Alpesh k PANCHAL April 20, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Send me labour rate of p+5 appartment labour rate in ahmedabad
    Rcc frame structure per sq ft
    Measonry & plastering work

  • Souvik Majhi July 5, 2014 at 11:59 am

    I am very pleased to see this website and knew lots of things & features. Thank you.

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