Building cheap is everyone’s dream, but that falls flat on its face when it encounters the solid market standards. However, if you are not the type that gets easily intimidated by market pressure, here are some of the best 6 low cost masonry units for building your home cheaper and stronger.
If you can access the local production facilities directly, there are few better options than the age-old, reliable, simple brick. A modification of this is the compressed earth brick, which are standard lime and cement clay passed through a manual press. With increased load bearing capacity, they are great for small lightweight residential construction.
The technology to produce compressed earth bricks, also known as ‘adobe bricks’, is cheap yet efficient. If you have a local manufacturer, then they become very much cost effective in your construction - especially if you’re building something light, like walls or small houses.
Kind of like Lego, but in real life size and that much strong, interlocking bricks have a depression on one side that accepts a projection on the other side of another brick. This locks them together in place and greatly reduces the need for mortar to hold them in place.
Since the cement in the mortar is one of the most expensive things in your construction, these interlocking bricks reduce the building cost - indirectly, but effectively. What’s more, they are eco-friendly and have more or less the same properties of standard bricks. Meaning, they are fireproof, very durable, easily manufactured, and solid enough to uphold a certain amount of load by themselves.
By-products of industry are easy to come by and generally a problem, so nobody wants them. When we found that some of those substances, especially the fly ash in this case, have excellent pozzolanic properties, it was a blessing in disguise for the construction industry visionaries looking for new ways.
Hollow fly ash bricks are made of mostly fly ash, sand, slag, and a bonding agent like cement, making it strong and durable. These bricks are water repellant to a good degree, sustainable and insulating, lightweight, and above all, at least 20% cheaper than traditional bricks.
The hollow inside the brick can be used in ingenious ways. When left alone, the hollow reduces the weight of the building and provides air-pockets for thermal insulation. However, you can also fill them up with low-strength cement to make the walls solid and much more durable. Furthermore, you can actually pass reinforcement bars through the hollows and pour strong concrete, making them incredibly strong and negating the requirement of columns entirely.
A technology that is becoming increasingly popular among designers and constructors, prefabricated buildings are the new favourite. They are great for building general-purpose buildings that don't need to be customized.
In prefabrication technique, buildings are designed by blocks, and these blocks are manufactured in a construction factory or production yard. Everything from whole rooms or small apartments to precast concrete elements like beams and columns can be prefabricated. Then they are carried to the site and are just assembled together.
The best thing in this method is the low amount of on-site work, and the standardized manufacturing pipeline, both of which substantially reduce building costs. Furthermore, since these buildings are made of transportable parts, they are easy to repair or recycle. Most of the time prefabricated buildings are greatly environment friendly and sustainable as well, and can be built extremely quickly.
Though each unit of concrete block is expensive, their size and their usage makes them cheaper than the alternative. Concrete blocks are very strong and very durable; to achieve the quality of a concrete block wall, you have to invest quite a lot of money - that is why concrete blocks, in their special application, are considered cheap.
For basement walls and foundations especially, concrete blocks are very effective. They are quite environmentally friendly, sustainable, and recyclable. They produce little emissions while manufacturing, and are termite, water, fire, and sound proof.
Bricks are the oldest building materials available, and natural fibers like coconut fibers or straw makes them even stronger - all the time remaining affordable and easy to manufacture. In rural areas, the application of fiber reinforced mud bricks are increasing gradually.
The natural fibers that increase the strength of the brick are easily found in many local plants like coconut, bagasse, cereal straw, corn stalk, cotton stalk, kenaf, rice husk / rice straw, etc. Due to this reinforcement, the mud bricks become stronger, corrosion resistant, lightweight, and better in other ways - although it is recommended to keep them away from fire. The water resistance of a mud brick wall is provided by a sulphur coating.