Alternative Materials for Building on the Cheap

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When you build your home, apart from making the most of your space, you also need to make the most of your budget. This means finding the best value materials to suit your needs. While there are some aesthetic considerations to make, you also need to think about the lifespan of the materials you choose as well as their strength and suitability.


Building your home from reclaimed materials is a great way to make the most of your budget and there are all sorts of things that you can find or buy second hand. However, if you are looking to build quickly and create a strong frame, you might be better looking at these alternatives to make your house sturdy.

Structural Lumber

Not what you were expecting? Structural Plastic Lumber is actually a great material to work with because it is cheap, strong and suitable for house building as well as marine uses. It’s made with a composite plastic that can be varied according to your project so that it can withstand the most extreme conditions.


While you might think that plastic is a terrible idea for the environment, if you use it well as a long-lasting material, it can be a good thing. In fact, structural lumber won’t pollute once it is there and you can get it in a range of colors to suit your design. This means that you can happily have this structural material on show as a feature, rather than have to hide it behind plasterboard.

Reclaimed Tyres

Given that there are around 60 million tires destined for landfill in the US alone, reclaiming these tires to create a cheap earth rammed home is a great option. Not only are you making use of something that would otherwise be wasted, but the rammed-earth method is also great for building a ready-insulated home that will be easy to keep warm.


This method can be quite laborious and time-consuming but it is perfectly possible for you to build your rammed-earth wall yourself with some willing volunteers. All you do is lay the first set of tires and start pushing earth into them, using a sledgehammer to cram in as much as possible. Then add layer upon layer until you have reached your desired height.

Shipping Containers

With their almost perfect sizing, shipping containers are a great way to build quickly and efficiently and are often the material of choice for prefab tiny homes. They are great for creating an instant space and though you are limited in your layout choices.


Before you take the plunge, though, you should read up on a few tips for buying the right containers and how best to use them. For example, you should consider what your local planning office will think of your ideas, how you are going to insulate your finished property and how you will arrange your containers to suit you.


Using any of these alternative materials will bring you a brilliant opportunity to build your own home for less money, but with all the same rigorous standards for strength, fireproofing and insulation. With a bit of imagination, any one of these materials could be made into something architecturally outstanding.

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