Less is more with these modern home designs, using sustainable architecture and low-cost housing technology to construct your dream home on a small budget.
The pages of homify are packed with incredible examples of architecture and design that showcase the latest trends, from drawing board to construction, from interiors and furnishing to landscaped gardens. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the gems you see here are more often than not the playthings of the fabulously wealthy – there are indeed many luxurious mansions and villas on display – but with sustainable architecture and design a serious concern in the contemporary world, you'd be surprised how many dream homes are well within your reach.
This collection of eight eye-popping modern home designs are both architectural marvels and examples of bespoke design on a budget. If you're planning to commission a new home or renovate the old with economy in mind, we're sure you'll find inspiration and reassurance that A-list architecture can be affordable here.
Beautiful and cheap homes to build – we show you our favorites! Which one do you like most?
Architecture: 8 Beautiful houses that were very cheap to build
Architectural firm Erb Santiago went ultra-simple to keep costs down and construction time to a minimum with this affordable new build home. The simple two-storied, cubic volume of this house uses low-cost timber-framing and is built atop an economical concrete slab foundation that extends beyond the walls of the house to form pathways along the perimeter and a concrete curtain for the carport. The carport itself is made from raw wooden posts and cane, a vernacular Argentine design gesture that's as cheap as it is charming.
How to build a house for cheap and, not to mention, get a million-dollar view? Your assumption is wrong if you think it’s impossible. The Evans House is built to budget in the Argentine wine country surrounding the city of Mendoza. Constructed using reinforced concrete, steel and wood, this stunning modern home clocks in at 270 m2 and is deeply sensitive to its environment, resembling a wine barrel or hollow log. It's this uncompromising, creative approach that's turned little money into luscious modern.
Turning to high technology in architecture might seem counterintuitive if economy is a concern, but it can in fact be a cost-saving strategy. This Korean home uses structural insulated panels (SIPs), a cheap but high-performance construction material with an expanded polystyrene core that can endure extremes of temperature and heavy loads, creating thermally efficient and acoustically neutral buildings. SIPs are available in large sizes and are renowned for staying straight under pressure and over time, meaning building time and joinery work is significantly reduced. All this means less money and time expended when building a modern house. Sounds like a dream coming true for everyone, right? It’s the perfect example if you are looking at how to build a cheap house that looks good, is relatively quick to build and exceptionally functional.
A centrepiece in this collection of cheap homes making the most of modern design ideas, this eye-catching construction is fabricated from repurposed packing pallets! Widely available but more often than not destined for the scrap heap, pallets are sturdy and weatherproof given a simple treatment, offering a prefabricated material with inherent aesthetic appeal when knocked together. This example just goes to show that an adventurous DIY attitude can make creative design affordable.
This traditional-look house from Berlin-based Möhring Architekten is decidedly modern but also appears rooted to the site. The truth is that it was built in just over two months from prefabricated elements. Prefabrication has been essential to contemporary architecture since the dawn of modernism, but it's taken a while for design snobs to accept prefabricated methodology as something more than transient and disposable. Coming into its own classical period, good-looking prefabricated home design is increasingly finding an audience among budget-conscious developers and prospective buyers.
Another example of prefabricated or modular design, this example from Casas Cube (literally 'cube houses') is constructed from plug-and-play elements that are cheap and able to be easily tailored to the owner's vision. A wide variety of materials, from wood to steel and stone, are in evidence here. Just because a house is prefabricated it doesn't mean it has to be cookie-cutter – here individuality and affordability are both in full effect.
Everything you need to know about prefab houses is condensed here.
The latest star in the long history of prefabricated or modular architecture is so-called cargotecture, taken to elegant extremes with the Pocket House and stated simply here in a lakeside home that speaks the language of van der Rohe's Farnsworth House or Philip Johnson's Glass House. The home is neither made from intermodal shipping panels nor is it designed by a an internationally renowned architect. Yet it is incredibly affordable, aesthetically beautiful, and uses cutting-edge technology to keep running costs low.
Find a tranquil spot, park up and literally unfold this fantastically practical modern house. Combining the mobility of a caravan with the economy of modern modular design, this colourful and compact, checkered timber housing unit can be taken and set up anywhere. External panels swing down from the walls to form decking and steps up to double glass sliding doors and needless to say the construction makes use of advanced technology for strength, stability, thermal efficiency and all-weather living.
While there are many low-cost materials available for building a home for cheap, it’s essential to consider the climate, soil and environment in the area before deciding on the most suitable material. For instance, concrete sheets can be used to build a house quickly and on a tight budget. However, they are not the best choice for thermal insulation. Working with an architect or builder is advisable if you want to build a house that is practical and beautiful.