Amazing homes for under £200,000

Affordable projects that prove you don't need a huge budget to build your dream home.

By Amanda Cochrane | 19 January 2017

We’ve searched high and low for affordable projects that prove building on a budget isn’t just a pipe dream.


1. The shipping news

  • Location: Derry, Northern Ireland
  • What they did: Built a house from shipping containers
  • Size: 115sqm

Amazing homes for under 2000006

Image: Built for £130,000


When architect and grand designer Patrick Bradley decided to build on a picturesque plot of land on his parent’s farm it caused some concern among his family. ‘They all agreed I could do it,’ says Patrick, ‘but my idea was for a bold contemporary home made of boxes balanced on top of each other.’

‘I always work with a quantity surveyor so I knew I couldn’t afford to do this with a conventional build method.’ Patrick’s solution was to use shipping containers as the frame of his house, to achieve his design on a limited budget.

It’s a stunning development – from the road a toned-down facade with one box laid over another merges with the countryside, while the rear elevation is more sculptural with a large chimney and a cantilevered first floor and terrace.

And it’s had the thumbs up from Patrick’s mum. ‘She’s round every day for tea and to look out on her treasured view.’ (028 7940 1814;


2. Open house

  • Location: Glasthule, County Dublin
  • What they did: Built a timber-framed, four-bedroom home
  • Size: 150sqm

Amazing homes for under 2000006

Image: Built for £150,000


Irish architect John McLaughlin designed this timber-framed house for his own family on an in fill plot in Dublin surrounded by a walled garden. ‘I wanted to achieve a sense of light and space,’ says John, who was a novice to self build before embarking on this project.

The ground floor is an open-plan area with sliding, timber-framed screens, which means the whole of the ground floor can become one large room.

As Ireland is particularly dark in the winter months, John maximised the glazing with large sliding doors, which blur the lines between inside and out. ‘My wife loves plants so we made the garden and patio feel like extensions of the interior,’ he says.

The work was completed slowly, but surely, as funds became available for specialist contractors, while John carried out much of the less-skilled work himself. ‘I took on the role of general contractor doing all the basic jobs and ordering materials,’ hesays. ‘Then I engaged specialist subcontractors for the windows, joinery, plumbing and electrics.’ (+353 1284 5175;


3. Small but perfectly formed

  • Location: Ayrshire, Scotland
  • What they did: Built a one-bedroom prefabricated house
  • Size: 40sqm

Amazing homes for under 2000006

Image: Built for £75,000


Jennifer and Mark Higgins had been looking to raise a mortgage, when they realised that a more affordable option might be to design their own scaled down property. Since building their one-bedroom abode in 2013, Jennifer has set up The Wee House Company, with her father Ian Hope, to provide low-cost prefabricated houses. ‘Our aim is to take the stress out of building a new home,’ says Jennifer, who designed her own house under the watchful eye of architectural designer Ben Penreath.

The Wee House Company offers three models, from a studio to a two-bedroom design, each with a kitchen, bathroom and fitted furniture, and can also supply bespoke single storey builds. Prices start at £54,000 for a 24sqm studio. (07772 949 315;


4. In the club

  • Location: Devon
  • What they did: Converted a youth centre into a home
  • Size: 114sqm

Amazing homes for under 2000006

Image: Built for £95,000


Mat and Polly Hilton had been looking for an affordable home for some time, when Mat’s brother Robert Hilton of Hilton Barnfield Architects came across a derelict youth club. It wasn’t the most obvious choice of project and was being sold without planning permission for change of use, but they took the plunge. ‘We were fairly confident about gaining approval,’ says Hilton.

The challenge was to transform a large open space on a constrained site into a two-bedroom abode with strong connections to the outdoors. Mat, a carpenter, and Polly undertook much of the renovation work themselves. Their timber-clad home, shortlisted for RIBA’s South West Awards 2016, features a semi open-plan kitchen and dining space with steps leading to the living area. Functional pods for cooking, washing, sleeping and bathing are grouped around the inner courtyard, providing a link with the outdoors. (01392 349 222;