The cost of building a small house

Leigh Leigh
CASA TRANSPORTABLE ÁPH80 ÁBATON Arquitectura Prefabricated Home
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With rising property prices and a shaky economy, building a small house could be the answer when it comes to finding a suitable home in South Africa. 

Not only does building from scratch mean that all personal preferences are taken into account and a dream home can evolve in a just a few months, but time can be taken to really decide what those personal preferences are.

There are certain factors to take into account, however, when looking at the cost of building a small house. 

1. The cost of the land that the house will be built on.

2. The cost of preparing for construction as the land will need to be levelled.

3. Re-zoning, building plan and inspection costs.

4. Electricity, water and other infrastructure costs. 

5. Labour, equipment and contractor costs for building.

6. Building material costs.

Once these costs have been budgeted for, there are incredible and creative ways to build and own the best house on the block.

Small wooden house

Wooden houses are natural, homely and come with many advantages. Firstly, they are energy efficient, insulating both warm air and cold air. This means during dry and chilly winters, the wooden house stays warm and cosy while in hot summers, the wooden house stays cool and fresh. 

Those who have experienced living in wooden houses have also noted how quiet they are as wood naturally absorbs noise. Building a wooden house cost-wise is cheaper as they don't take long to build and are a natural product.  Wooden houses can be built so quickly that some can even be completed in a week. This saves a ton of money.  

Living in a natural product also means that is far more environmentally friendly than using bricks, stone and concrete. Ultimately, building a wooden house is a quick and fairly inexpensive exercise with the reward of a beautiful structure that is peaceful to live in.

Small modern house

Modern and minimalist is the way that many home dwellers are going due to sustainability, price and look and feel. Especially for those who live in over-populated city areas, space does not come cheap. 

Using a professional architect or planner helps to utilise space with clever, innovative and efficient designs while a designer can assist with modern finishes. Modern homes are all about clean lines, making the most of natural light and taking advantage of any views that can be seen from the house. Speak to your architect about skylights, big windows and a house that faces the afternoon sun. 

Storage is often king in a modern house as space constraints mean that there is little room for clutter. There are thousands of modern and funky storage units that can be built into a modern house. Building a small modern house also doesn’t have to be too costly, if it’s planned right. Preparation is key here.

Small energy efficient house

Green is the new black. Building an energy efficient house will not only cut costs in the long run, but is environmentally responsible and very aesthetically pleasing. 

There are several things to consider when it comes to building a small energy efficient house. The first is insulation, air cooling and air warming—what is the most energy efficient way to achieve this? This is where designers can play a huge part, using the natural local climate to influence insulation. They will be able to give advice on the best passive solar cooling, heating and landscaping strategies.

Second is water heating. Solar-powered geysers are one example of how to achieve a steaming hot bath, without touching the electricity supply. Making use of natural light is another way to build an energy efficient house by ensuring that doors, windows and skylights are positioned smartly.

Use these tips to run a more energy efficient household. 

Small prefabricated house

CASA TRANSPORTABLE ÁPH80 ÁBATON Arquitectura Prefabricated Home
ÁBATON Arquitectura


ÁBATON Arquitectura

Prefabricated houses are simple and smart solutions when it comes to building a small house and are defined by the fact that they are often constructed in a factory before being assembled onsite—a quick and efficient process. These days there are thousands of designs to choose from, including energy efficient prefabs with modern designs. This means that incredible houses can be constructed at a fraction of the cost, absolutely customised to the needs and desires of the home owner. 

Construction speed is the huge draw card when it comes to prefabricated houses because home owners don't need to dish out millions for labour costs. The speed is a result of the house being constructed remotely in the factory, thus weather does not play a part. While prefabricated houses have in the past been associated with negative connotations, their energy efficiency and sustainability make them a fabulous addition to home construction options.

Small container house

Similarly to prefabricated houses, container houses have too been historically associated with negative connotations but thanks to the green age, building them has become a cheap, funky and stylish option. It was only in 2012 that the city of Johannesburg's first formal container housing development was built, a controversy at the time. However the three-story development took only four and a half months to complete, less than half the time a traditional building would have taken to construct. Residents were banging at the doors to become occupants. This is because not only is the time taken to build a container house phenomenally short but they are very easy to maintain, saving the pocket from spending. 

Container houses are also incredibly useful in that they make use of empty cargo containers, recycling them for a sustainable purpose. For the eco-consciousness who is looking to save when it comes to building a small house, container houses are a great option. With colourful paint, modern furniture and a beautiful garden, a masterpiece is born.

Furnishing a small house

When it comes to furnishing a small house, minimalist is key as it helps to give the impression of a bigger space. Professional designers and decorators are wonderfully trained when it comes to furnishing a small house and can provide helpful tips on storage units, colour schemes and art to make the most of the space that is available.

Wall shelves are one of the smartest ways to save space, making use of vertical space as much as possible. Store books, kitchen items, clothes and shoes in vertical spaces so that there is still plenty of space left over in the rooms.

Light is also another way to make a room look bigger, brighter and more spacious. Opt for big, glass windows and skylights and use lamps and candles rather than bright, neon ceiling lights in the evenings. 

Curtain dividers can also be a useful trick when it comes to separating two rooms, without making them look tiny.

There are a thousand little things that can be done when it comes to furnishing a small house that will leave it looking big and spacious. See these tips for creating a small closet space.

Designing a small garden

A garden is one of the best things about building a house, introducing colour and natural beauty to a home. The first trick is to create a plan—where are the flowers going to go, where is the grass going to go and where are the plants going to go? Once there is a garden strategy, it will be easy to decide how much of what is needed.

Apart from the traditional planting of flowers, shrubs and bushes, vertical space can also provide a unique and funky place to have a garden. Use shelves to display flowers and fauna or create a vertical wall garden. Wall gardens also solve the problem of an unattractive wall or an empty space that needs filling.

Designing a small garden doesn't have to be expensive either. With a few seeds and some gardening tools, a creative and lush garden can be created.

The cost of building a small house doesn't need to break the bank. It's also an opportunity to live a more sustainable and eco-conscious lifestyle.

Have you ever considered building your own small home? Let us know in the comments, below.

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