Costs Involved In Building Houses
The main constituents of costs in building houses are land, materials, labor costs, and incidental costs.
The cost of land depends mainly on location and can be very high in cities and heavily populated areas. To offset the costs of land in cities, low cost housing requires that buildings have to be planned as vertical high rises so that land cost is distributed over larger numbers of houses. Where land costs are lower, like in rural and semi urban areas, the larger component of cost can then be the cost of materials and labor.
Normally material cost accounts for about 75-percent of the cost of a building, but the use of local materials can help to reduce this component to more manageable proportions.
Smaller single storied structures can be built in locally available mud or stone to really decrease the cost of building. Mud houses are very common in rural areas and architects like Laurie Baker have made the use of mud as a building material to build well designed homes that have removed the stigma from the material. Problems with mud as a construction material pertain to the high maintenance costs as the material requires constant attention. Local stone, quite often quarried at site can also help to reduce material costs. The material however does require skilled labor if it has to be properly used. Bamboo is another material that can be used for low cost housing. Engineers in India have even adapted bamboo to use as reinforcement for roof slabs in place of the far more expensive reinforcement steel bars.
In India a number of low cost housing projects in cities have been developed using pre-cast and prefabricated components whose mass production helps to reduce costs. In Karnataka, India, pre-engineered panels using rice husk with binders have been used for building housing with buildings of up to four stories. The weather in India is not very kind to pre-cast and assembled forms of housing as a lot of attention and skill is required to create watertight joints.
This is one commodity that is relatively cheap in many countries because of the vast pools of workers always available for construction. In villages, where people build their own homes, the labor component may be almost considered as nil, as it is quite often the householder and his family which functions as such.
Employing the proper skilled laborer who gives high output is another way to reduce the cost of this element. Insufficient attention is paid to this aspect.
Incidental costs can be the cost of making plans, getting approvals, and certifications and completion formalities. This cost element is high for multi-storied buildings due to the technical and other expertise that is required for such buildings.