Affordable housing is that segment of real estate which is affordable for the medium income group of society. This address must be the housing needs of lower-middle-income households. This is a key issue in developing nations where the majority of people can’t buy houses at their market price. We must have often heard that affordable housing projects cost less but a week on amenities and rental yields. However, a housing emergency is one of the main topics of discussion because of social transformation. 

Effective budgeting and following techniques that will help us to reduce the cost of construction is how we can define low-cost residences. All of this done should be without sacrificing the strength, performance and life of the structure.

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There is a strange misconception that affordable housing is suitable for substandard work or uses low-quality materials and is only for the poor segment or below the poverty line segment of the society. Well, this is not at all true because affordable housing or affordable construction is done by proper management of resources. It has a strange involvement of typological innovation, technological innovation, and use of other prefabricated systems. In low-cost housing, the material cost is less as the preferred local range of materials and this is further reduced by making a proper schedule of work.

This practice can be applied to either a small or a large-scale project and it highly depends on the nature of the building to be constructed, the budget of the owner, geographical site of construction, availability of building materials and good construction management practice. In today’s time about a quarter of the world does not have a comfortable home to live in. This is an increased responsibility of the government to cater to this need. 

Exploring the use of some insanely cheap sustainable low-income housing materials can save the world. This is a sad truth that low-cost housing hasn’t been accepted by the majority of architects and engineers. Simply because of the simple design it offers, no specifications and low acceptance by higher income groups. There goes an extremely important saying that if the budget of a project is critical, we must stick to our guns and make the right choice so that we don’t regret it later.

Here are some important points to remember while designing low-cost residences.

1.Be efficient in the floor area, we must aim at keeping our designs small and get rid of unnecessary spaces and unnecessary stuff that we own.

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2. Avoid unwanted complexity in design for example a gable roof which is merely a visual treat for our neighbours. The rectangular form of a box is the simplest and the most affordable. Often a good design has clarity to parts and avoids unnecessary additional structural elements. Having simple floor plans with a simple geometry means fewer walls which in turn uses lesser material. Moreover, it offers a greater visual connection between the spaces and eliminates wastage of any space.

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3. We must try to introduce simpler details to a design as fuzzy details can raise the price. We must also splurge strategically and decide where we want the highlight of a design and not sacrifice a good design.

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4. Having a local approach to reduce labour costs and try to use locally available materials as the base price is low, the transportation cost will be low, it will save time. Also, it is encouraged to use traditional construction methods of that region which are time-tested, economic and employ the local skills man.

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5. Talking in terms of civil construction we can try to reduce the depth of a foundation, reduce the wall thickness, reduce the plinth height, use mud or store or soil stabilised blocks, hollow cement concrete as a construction material and maybe use precast materials.

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6. Constructing masonry furniture that uses bricks, stone and cement for both indoors and outdoors has proven to be extremely durable and economic.

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7. Usage of cement for flooring and on walls in place of stones or ceramic tiles can be easy to maintain and gives a fabulous rustic or a modern industrial look to space. These finishes are also easy to install and can be further decorated with elements like paints and mosaic tiles.

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8. Usage of wooden pallets or exposed brick finishes on walls is an economic and eco-friendly alternative to traditional wooden cladding. It has the advantage of matching classics and contemporary homes alike. It also removes the cost of plastering painting the walls.

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9. Exposed plumbing can be efficient in reducing the cost of plastering and hiding them. Functionality-wise this proves much easier as you can identify the leakages in a very proficient manner.

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10. Lastly, taking a step further towards the sustainable design process, here are some materials that should be promoted and influenced in today’s design.

  • Uses sandbags/earthbags to design houses that provide shelter for the underprivileged. Sandbags filled on-site reduces transportation cost and this design is extremely earthquake resistant too.
  • Strawbale is a fire-resistant, cheap, natural, sustainable and biodegradable way of designing. It saves energy and cost as well as offers a unique and intimate cosy space.
  • Rammed earth has been a low-cost building material since ancient times.
  • Cob houses are extremely recyclable and it gives protection from passive heat gain as well.
  • Bamboo as we all know is the cheapest and the most sustainable, easily recyclable and durable materials. It is highly recommended to be used for designing a disaster-resistant community.
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Dreaming of building homes is becoming difficult with reality. We must consider low-cost as it plays a considerable role in supplying better houses for individuals. Thus, in today’s time, it might not be critical however it is extremely necessary to adopt these techniques.


Priyanshi Hiran is a perfectionist who has a confident and persuasive personality. She is an Architecture student currently in 4th Year of B.Arch. Time Management is the key to her work routine that helps her to achieve a balanced lifestyle.

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