How to reduce cost of construction?

        If you are reading this blog then I am sure you want to construct your house on your own sometime in near future or have plan to do so at some point of time in your life.

Many people who want to construct their home, are worried about the cost of construction like what will be the cost? will I be able to finance it? is it going to exceed my budget? etc.

Also people are not aware how to select construction material that is best for their needs & that fits in their budget. Some contractors may misuse this lack of information to their benefit.

So I thought of coming up with blogs to help people to understand various aspects of selection of different construction material and help them realise the impact of material selection on the cost of construction. In these blogs I will provide you with information on how to choose the construction materials and its implications on budget and quality of your house.

Should I use Bricks or Concrete blocks for walls?

The advantage of using bricks for the outer walls(9 inch thick) is that the wall will be stronger compared to using 6 inch thick wall of concrete blocks. Bricks are must when house is being constructed without concrete columns i.e. house on load bearing walls. House on load bearing walls will reduce the overall cost of construction compared to house with concrete columns but you cannot construct more than two or three floors.

Also house on load bearing walls will have less flexibility in changing the floor plan on the first floor as it is required to have walls of first floor over walls of ground floors so that the load is taken by the walls as there are no columns to take the load.

Hence it has more benefits to construct house with concrete columns & beams rather on load bearing walls as you will have more flexibility in planning your floor plans on each floor and can extend the house to as many floors as you want in future if you wish to do so.

Now coming to using bricks for construction, you need around 1100 bricks of 4"thick (9"x4"x3") to construct a 9" thick wall of 100 square feet(10feet x 10feet), whereas you need just around 150 concrete blocks of 6" thick (15"x6"x8")to construct the wall of same size.

Price of one brick is around ₹8/- where as for one 6" thick concrete block is around ₹30/-. So the cost of bricks for one wall of 9inch thick is 1100Nos x ₹8 = ₹8800/- whereas the cost of one wall of 6" thick concrete blocks is 150Nos x ₹30 = ₹4500/- which is almost half the cost of bricks.

Lets us consider the impact of using bricks or concrete blocks on the cost of other construction material and cost of labour associated with it.

The time taken by labour to construct one 9" thick brick wall will be 3 to 4 times more than constructing a 6" thick wall of same size. For example, if it takes half day to construct a 6" thick concrete wall, it will take 1.5 to 2 days to complete a 9"thick brick wall.

So there will be huge savings in cost of labour which is very expensive these days. If you go for walls of concrete blocks, if one mason(₹800/-per day) and two helpers(₹500/- per day) are used to construct walls then the minimum saving per wall is approximately (800+500+500)x 1day = ₹1800/- in labour cost.

The other impact is, quantity of cement and sand for a brick wall and concrete block wall. The cement & sand required for 9"thick brick wall is approximately three times more than that is required for a concrete block wall. This is because it takes just two layers of mortar for 1.5 feet height of 6" thick concrete block wall, whereas it takes 4-5 layers of mortar for same height of 9" thick brick wall. So if a wall in concrete blocks needs 1.5 bags of cement, the brick wall will need 4-5 bags of cement.

Hence if price of one cement bag is ₹350/-,then for one wall of 10'x10' size the saving will be minimum of 2.5 bags i.e. 2.5bags x 350 = ₹875/-approximately. Same is the case with sand consumption, it will be 2-3 times lesser in case of concrete block wall. Even the small difference in quantity of sand will make big savings as the price of sand has increased 3-4 times in last two years.

You can consider above factors while choosing bricks or concrete blocks for constructing walls.Please note that the price of material mentioned above are for illustrations and may differ from city to city.

Read my next blog on other construction materials to reduce the cost of construction.

Hope you enjoyed reading my blog and it will be useful for you to choose construction material.

- by Chandrashekhar

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