Low Cost Housing: How It Can Simultaneously Save Money and Environment

As the economy puts its heavy strains on us, low cost housing, or affordable housing, has become one of our biggest needs along with access to healthy whole food.

Affordable housing is not just about how to build a house in the most affordable way possible. It is about how construction can take place at a low cost and maintenance can be kept, without affecting quality.

This is done in various ways. The implementation of various building methods and techniques are very important.

A Tumbleweed tiny house in Sebastopol, California is one version of “green” low cost housing. Photo © by nicolas.boullosa

Keeping construction costs down can be done by using what is called prefabricated homes. Not only is onsite construction costs low, it is also environmentally friendly.

Natural materials such as bamboo are used to replace wood and steel. It is a strong, durable material and many have found that termites do not attack bamboo, even if it is untreated. This means than maintenance costs can be kept low as well.

Bamboo is also a fast growing, renewable resource and can thus be used without worrying if it can be replaced at the same pace it is being consumed. Minimal to none pesticides are used during the cultivation of bamboo.

Bamboo is not the only resource available when it comes to construction. Many techniques do reduce the need for wood, including cast earth construction and light straw-clay. Recycled material is also being incorporated into building technique and materials.

Another way in which affordable housing is ensured is by the implementation of more energy efficient designs, architecture and equipment.

Many new homes have solar panels which effectively reduces the cost of energy for the home owner. The installation of electric, tankless water heaters and other products of its kind make the cost of keeping a home functioning, minimal.

Affordable or low cost housing does not just have to do with the price tag the house comes with, but the price you have to pay to maintain it as well.

As research and development continues, many have realised that the key to keeping costs low, are the implementation of energy efficient techniques.

This has also turned into an added bonus in regards to the emissions and carbon footprint households leave behind. By lowering the need for energy through the use of solar panels for example, the cost of energy goes down.

When this cost goes down, it is only logical that energy created by companies is used less and less, thus making for a healthier environment.

In a related article, The Low Impact Woodland Home, Simon Dale’s own version of low cost housing positively impacted his family and inspired others to build their own affordable dream home. -ANNABEL SCHOEMAN

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