5 Ways to Build a Home for Cheap

October 5, 2021
tiny home with chimney

What’s the cheapest way to build a home in Australia? This question runs through the minds of many as the interest rates are on the rise.

Housing affordability had been a rising issue even before the radical changes brought on by the pandemic or increasing mortgage repayments.

And despite an initial slump in the property market when the borders were shut last year, prices are soaring again, while wages are being left behind.

What this means for many Australians is the need to move out of central areas and further into the regions. The trend, evoked by the aforementioned high prices in capital cities, has changed the way we live.

More of us are now open to building a home for ourselves by ourselves, saving thousands of dollars in the process. 

So if you’re keen on doing it yourself, we’re going to show you how to build a home under 100k find the cheapest ways to build a home, from the materials to the soil.

Further Reading: Living in Perth and exploring different housing builds? Check out our guide on Modular Prefabricated Home Prices in Perth.

Get Distance From the Cities

couple building home with dog

As much as we love the more populated cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, we can’t deny the pricey housing. The UDIA ‘State of the Land’ report tells us that Sydney, for one, has risen by 6% in median housing pricing since last year. So you want to be looking for the cities with lower median housing prices. And while you’re at it, have a closer look at the prices in the suburbs.

Two stunning and blossoming locations are Adelaide and Perth. Adelaide continues to stay stagnant in the best way possible. Housing prices there have levelled out around $400 per square metre over the past few years. Perth has also dipped by 1% from last year. The average plot of land there sits at around $200,000, so venture out of the city for lower prices.

Your option for construction here stretches further than buying a plot of land to build a house on. If you’re moving away from the densely-populated cities, you’re also getting more bang for buck. Consider building a duplex or townhouse. The latter of which is averaged at around $111,000 to $222,000 for a single townhouse to be built across the country. 

Choose the right lot of land

darwin plot of land to build home sohoapp
Plot of land for sale in Darwin on

It may seem straightforward at first, but finding a plot of land with the right constitution is an integral part of building your home. The builders are looking at the slope, topography of the property and site restrictions, all of which can add to the costs of building your home. 

Let’s take the slope for example, assuming the land isn’t levelled. The levelling and grading of the land sits at an average of $2,500. And the building has yet to begin. 

So to avoid the extra costs of building, start by finding land with the best kind of soil. Level bedrock is the easiest to build on because of its sturdiness, but sandy soil is also fine. 

Additionally, prioritise blocks of land that already have access to general utilities such as water, heat and electricity. While you can set this up, it can be pricey as well as time-consuming. 

And don’t forget about building codes and state laws! Between council approvals, environmental regulations and maintenance standards, it would be helpful to you if the land already complies with all the restrictions. 

Be realistic about what you need

big house in construction with crane

While building your own home is a more economical choice, don’t get too carried away. Many first home owners/builders lose track of their needs and costs, and end up building a home beyond their budget. We suggest focusing on what you really, truly need. 

Two-story homes and complex layouts can be spenny. Look for affordable, practical home designs. Keep costs down by keeping simple. 

Consider a Prefabricated Home or a Kit Home

Instead of building your home completely from scratch, opt for a prefabricated home or kit. These are designed by experts, making them a trustworthy, high-quality option. And thanks to the growing tiny homes trend, many of these designs are thoughtful and stylish too. So let’s talk about the different pre-made homes out there:

Prefabricated, Modular or Kit Homes

The home builder kit has made a comeback as an affordable option to enter the property market. Not only are they affordable and good-looking, but thoughtful design has also made them energy-efficient. Depending on your architectural spirit, you can be more or less involved in the construction process too.

The major elements, particularly the framing, are pre-made in the factory and transported to you where it’s put together by professionals—hence the name “kit”. The difference here between kit homes and prefab homes is that prefab homes begin getting assembled in the factory. Then they are delivered to your home where they are finished with cranes. 

Construction materials vary between steel and treated pine, depending on your budget. On average, you can expect to spend about $60,000 on a 3-bedroom kit home. That’s a whole home under $100,000.

This is your go-to if what you’re after is cheap, fast and flexible. 

Shipping container homes

shipping container a home build

Shipping container homes are amongst the popular options for a prefabricated home construction . Like the name suggests, they are steel shipping containers repurposed for home living. Because of their solid build, they are reliable homes. And with the right interior design, you can turn them into beautiful living spaces.

Another advantage of the tiny house is the lifestyle. Smaller areas mean you’re spending less on utilities. Keep this in mind when you’re building your home!

This a super cost-effective option, with starting prices at about $6,000 depending on the size, quality and age of the container. Another great feature is their easily moveable nature. Compared to normal homes, even prefabricated units, these are wonderfully quick to assemble. Just know that you will need a permit to build one on your property, regardless of whether you’re living in it or using it as storage. 

Having touted the popularity and affordability of these homes, it all still depends on your property. Not all these units can fit all lands, and government restrictions may prevent you from installing these at all. So make sure to check with your local council, and on state regulations before taking the leap. 

Don’t splurge on fittings and finishes

build small home with two storeys

We mentioned how some of us may get overexcited at the prospect of building our dream home from scratch, but try not to get derailed from keeping to your budget.

Extravagant finishes can add a lot of money to your overall building costs. So if you’re hoping to spend less, keep to basic (but classic!) finishes. From the wall painting to cabinetry and flooring, these are all factors that will add to the cost of building your home. So to cut costs, design elements like concrete flooring and exposed brick walls are your best bet. 

Later, you can think about warming the house with art and plants to make it look more luxurious. But for now, manage price points properly to drive down your total cost.

Look out for government grants

While the applications for the HomeBuilder grant closed in April 2021, it’s a good time to start thinking about it for next year. But it doesn’t apply to everyone. To qualify, you must:

  • Be the owner-occupier. This rules out investment properties.
  • Not be a company or trust, but a natural person
  • Be an Australian citizen
  • Have an income of $125,000 or less a year (singles) or less than $200,000 per year (couples). This amount will be according to your last tax return.

Depending on when your contract to build is signed, you can receive either $15,000 or $25,000 in the grant. But just a heads up that there may be changes in the coming year so keep yourself updated before building your home. 

DID YOU KNOW you get closer to finding your dream home when you swipe and shortlist? Our algorithm learns what you like and sends you better properties. So get registered here. But don’t just stop there, download our app to get the full Soho experience. Just remember to shortlist or swipe left on our listings so we can send you others that better match what you’re looking for.

Soho is your expert team in Australian real estate, offering an innovative platform for effortless property searches. With deep insights into buying, renting, and market trends, we guide you to make informed decisions, whether it's your first home or exploring new suburbs.
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Our AI match engine will match you with over 150,000+ properties and you can swipe away or shortlist easily. Making your home buying journey faster and easier.