Academy of Self-Reliance

Build for Less

There are several ways to reduce the cost of construction. Most people are familiar with owner-equity programs, where the owner provides labor. Not everyone has the capacity or the ability to provide that labor. However, there are other ways to reduce costs. Below are several ways available thru co-operatives:

  • Purchasing Co-operative – With a project as large as what is being proposed, the purchasing power of 250 or more families can provide substantial discounts on the purchase of material and supplies. This includes lumber, other building supplies, nursery supplies for the garden. In addition there can be discounts due to volume purchases for appliances and the list goes on.
  • Secondary Co-operatives – Or worker/employee owned co-operatives remove the middle man. Co-operatives are non-profit and any excess income over costs to do business are returned to the co-operative membership based on participation. With a conventional construction company there is often a 10-25% profit margin applied to the cost of the construction. This cost does not exist in a non-profit company.
  • Other services can be made available through a co-operative effort, such as well drilling, pump installations, excavation, electrical, plumbing, cabinets, roofing and etc. These services provide employment opportunities that are first made available to the shareholders or members of the co-operative.
  • Another potential cost savings is the use of alternative methods and materials. These can include rammed earth or compressed earth blocks. There are other designs that include what is known as earth-ship construction. This type of construction uses discarded tires filled with rammed earth. Another cost savings approach to alternative methods and materials is the use of a permanent wood foundation. There are other cost savings found with alternative heating/cooling options. These will all be introduced in our webinar series, called the Path.

Overall, a member through sweat equity, the co-operative purchasing power for materials and supplies, access to the secondary co-operatives that provide other needed construction skills, and by incorporating design options that increase comfort and efficiency, one can reduce their overall construction costs dramatically. With proper effort, design, planning and organization, savings up to 50% can be achieved.

Scroll to Top