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How to Build a Low-Cost House Alternative

The cost of building a home no longer reflects the value of homes. Therefore, a more economical alternative material may be the answer to building your dream home. Paper has become one such alternative. Building with paper may only cost between $5.00 to $25.00 a square foot, depending on styling, finish and fixtures.

Building with Papercrete is like building with bricks

Things You Will Need

  • Paper
  • Portland Cement
  • Water
  • Sand
  • Mixer
  • Trowel
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Water Sealant
  • 1 1/2 inch sheet rock screws
  • 3/4 inch wafer board
  • Circular saw
  • Screw gun
  • Paint brush

The cost of building a home no longer reflects the value of homes.  Therefore, a more economical alternative material may be the answer to building your dream home.

Paper has become one such alternative.  Building with paper may only cost between $500 to $2500 a square foot, depending on styling, finish and fixtures.

Furthermore, this material is very sturdy, fire proof, insect, rodent resistant and an abundant resource. 

    Gather all the newspaper you can
  1. Collect newspapers, magazines, junk mail and cardboard. Newspapers are a universal alternative next to dirt. One way to recycle paper is to build with it. Neighbors may even save newspapers for you or contact a nearby newspaper printing office.
  2. Soak all newspaper for at least 15 minutes. Magazines, junk mail and cardboard need to soak at least an hour.
  3. Follow this mixing formula: If using a 55-gallon drum mixer, fill it about 3/4 full of water, start the engine, add 10 pounds of dry paper, already soaked. Add 10 pounds of Portland cement and add the same volume of sand as cement. Materials need to mix about 5 minutes before it’s ready to pour into forms.
  4. Decide what size block you want to work with before building forms. Example: Blocks can be up to 12 inches wide by 8- to12-inches thick and however long you feel you can handle. Assemble wood with sheet rock screws and be sure to water seal the entire form.
  5. Use a wheelbarrow to carry the mix to your forms, unless you have a portable mixer. The paper blocks may be manageable after 24 hours. Total drying time is 1 1/2 to 2 weeks, depending on weather and humidity.
  6. Tip

    Blocks are light weight when dry. Depending on your budget, there are several types of structures that you can build. Use a router to channel electrical wiring and plumbing into walls. For windows and doors, use a chain saw to cut openings before framing them in.

    Warning

    Building your dream home this way isn’t going to happen over night. Take your time to learn about the consistencies of how the blocks dry and be prepared for a workout.

Things You Will Need

  • Paper
  • Portland Cement
  • Water
  • Sand
  • Mixer
  • Trowel
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Water Sealant
  • 1 1/2 inch sheet rock screws
  • 3/4 inch wafer board
  • Circular saw
  • Screw gun
  • Paint brush

Tips

  • Blocks are light weight when dry.
  • Depending on your budget, there are several types of structures that you can build.
  • Use a router to channel electrical wiring and plumbing into walls.
  • For windows and doors, use a chain saw to cut openings before framing them in.

Warning

  • Building your dream home this way isn't going to happen over night. Take your time to learn about the consistencies of how the blocks dry and be prepared for a workout.

About the Author

Sharron Calvin started writing professionally in 1998 as a freelancer for Apache County Observer & White Mountain Independent News in Arizona. She contributed articles to Squidoo.com, Aquarian Journal and AZ Tourist News. Calvin has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications arts & technology through Regis University in Denver, CO and Certification for Copywriting with American Writers and Artist's Institute.  

Photo Credits

  • block wall image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com
  • block wall image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com
  • Journaux entassés sur un chariot. image by Blue Moon from Fotolia.com
  • cement mixer image by Joann Cooper from Fotolia.com
  • driving a wheelbarrow image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com