10 Low-Cost Construction Materials in Kenya for 2023

Building materials make up the largest percentage of house construction costs. To fix the budget of a semi-permanent home, you need affordable materials.

Cost-effective (cheapest) way to build a house in Kenya

Homeownership is every adult’s dream, but many fail to fulfil it because of the high cost of building in Kenya. When you factor in things like house design, cost of construction materials, contractor fees, and labour costs, it becomes expensive to build a house from the ground up.

A container home set in a beautifully landscaped plot of land

Prospective homeowners can look for ways that will make construction affordable. Choose a simple house design that requires low labour and uses fewer materials. You can also hire an experienced home builder to help you know areas where you can save money. Ensure you keep track of your materials during construction to avoid theft.

What is the Cheapest Material to Build a Building? 

Finding cheap construction materials helps you lower the overall cost of building. It is also advisable to utilize locally available items to avoid the extra cost of transportation. The following are the top ten building materials commonly used in Kenya.  

1. Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF)

These are hollow panels reinforced with steel rebars that are then filled with concrete to build a wall. Compared to conventional houses, they take less time to put up, and you can finish building a three-bedroom bungalow in as little as two months.  Additionally, the insulation material used to make the panels will help to regulate your home’s temperature during hot and cold days.

Some high-rise buildings in Kilimani, such as Kindaruma apartments, have been constructed using ICF forms.

A concrete form panel wall being setup before concrete is poured into the hollow inner part

2. Bricks

Bricks are made from a mixture of clay, sand, and cement. After being air-dried, they are burned in a kiln to harden them. They are strong, light, and a cheaper alternative to stone bricks. One fired-brick costs as low as Ksh. 10 today.

You can also opt for interlocking bricks which require less cement to hold them together, unlike normal brick structures. You will also reduce labour costs since fewer people will be needed on the construction site. 

A complete brick wall made from red soil and cement bricks before plaster rendering

3. Concrete Blocks

Concrete blocks with a decorative exterior

Unlike bricks, concrete blocks are larger and heavier and usually require less concrete for joinery. In the case of interlocking blocks, cement may not even be needed. As a result, the construction process is much faster as you do not have to wait for the concrete to dry before proceeding with the construction.

4. Shipping container

Another way to build a low-cost using steel is by buying a ready shipping container and converting it into a house. You can buy a shipping container for as low as Ksh 200,000 for a 20-foot container. To minimize the overall cost of the build, you can use metal posts and sheets to join two or three shipping containers to build a house.

You can also buy a ready made shipping container home from companies such as Almar Container Group, Cubes and Containers, Karmod, and Containers World Kenya.

A shipping container house made from 3 40-foot shipping containers

READ ALSO: A Beginner’s Guide to Building a House

5. Stone

Stone is a durable building material and has been in use for many years. It can be used to construct floors or walls. Sometimes they are used for beautification effects. In Kenya, the types of stones used in construction are either machine-cut or cut manually. 

Cost-effective (cheapest) way to build a house in Kenya

6. Timber

Timber is a common building material with various uses. The item is light but strong, making it an ideal house construction material. Unlike other materials, timber is easy to produce and needs less energy which is suitable for environmental preservation. 

Cost-effective (cheapest) way to build a house in Kenya

7. Steel

Steel is common in modern buildings, especially high-rise apartments. It is strong and gives the house structural stability. It is also formidable and can be shaped into any form, although more expensive than other materials because it uses a lot of energy during production.  

In most cases houses built using steel are made from steel columns and beams as well as steel wall panels. Some buildings have steel columns and beams but have walls made from different materials such as wood or metals roofing sheets.

READ ALSO: A Step by Step Guide to Buying a House

8. Precast Concrete Slabs

Precast concrete slabs are made off-site and brought to the construction site ready for use. They are made by pouring concrete into a casting mold to form the slabs. The majority of precast models are designed to interlock for easier assembly. The concrete panels are usually secured using steel bars to strengthen them.

Precast slabs are becoming increasingly popular for construction projects around the country. Global Precast Panels Kenya LTD a major precast slab manufacturer in Kenya has multiple completed and ongoing projects in Nairobi, Athi River, Kitale, ELdama Ravine, Nyeri, Kitui, Kitale, Rongai, Nanyuki, Kitengela, Kiambu, and MUA hills.

A crane lifting a precast concrete wall slab on a construction site.

9. Metallic roofing sheets

Iron sheets are a cheaper roofing alternative compared to concrete roofing materials or wooden tiles. They are usually painted bright colours to reflect the sun’s heat to keep the house cool on hot days. This material is also used to make fences.  

Metallic roofing sheets in Kenya are sold in various modules, including 2m, 2.5m, and 3m lengths with 0.85m width. They come in gauges 30 and 32, with the lower gauge being thicker. They are the best budget roofing alternative, but concrete roofing tiles are the better option if you are looking for strength and not price.

10. Expanded Poly Styrene (EPS) Panels

Polystyrene panels are another affordable building material that helps insulate your house and considerably reduces construction time. You only need to set them up and do cement rendering on the exterior. You can also use wall cladding to protect the panels. The time saved on construction also leads to reduced labor costs.

National Housing Corporation (NHC) has different projects build using EPS panels this include, NHC Madaraka, NHC Bungoma, Godowns all over Kenya, and privately developed estates in Rongai and Kisumu.

READ ALSO: Home Insurance: Your Guide to Coverage

Price List of Construction Materials in Kenya

Different types of building materials are sold at different rates. These are the approximate costs of common construction materials in Kenya; 

Building materialCost Quantity
Steel Reinforcement Mesh: 
A142 – Ksh 36,000
A98 – Ksh 27,000
A66 – Ksh 6,000
A610 – Ksh 5,000
Binding wire-Ksh 4,100(25Kg)
Hoop iron – Ksh 3,150 (20)
Reinforcement bars: 
D8 – 550, D 10 – 870, D12 – 1,250, D16 – 2,250, D20 – 3,600, D25 – 5,600, D32 – 9,500
Steel sections:
2 by 1 (18 G) Ksh – 1,145
2 by 1 (16 G) Ksh – 1,370
2 by 1 (14 G) Ksh – 2,620
1 by 1 (18 G) Ksh – 755
1 by 1 (16 G) Ksh – 915
¾ x 1/8 Flat Bar Ksh – 375
¾ x1/4 Flat Bar Ksh – 730
¾ T-Section Ksh – 760
¾ Z Section Ksh – 1,075
Flat Bar 1 x ⅛ Ksh – 495
1.5 x ⅛ Flat Bar Ksh – 725
Black sheet 18 G Ksh – 3,785
Black sheet 16 G Ksh – 4,400
varies by product
Timber Cypress timber
2*2- Ksh 25
4*2- Ksh 60
6*1- Ksh 36
Mukima timber
6*1- Ksh 23
4*2- Ksh 40
2*2- Ksh 20
Blue Gum timber
Ksh 20 – 60
Pine timber
Ksh 20 to 300

per foot
Concrete SlabsKsh 4,200 per square meter
Metal roofing sheetsKsh 1,220 for 2.5 meters
EPS PanelKsh 4,200
Ksh 4,500
Ksh 4,900
Shipping containersKshs 450,000-500,000
Ksh 250,000-300,000
for a 40 foot container
for a 20 foot container
ConcreteKsh 13,600
Ksh 12,750
Ksh 13,625
per cubic meter Westetern
per cubic meter Nairobi
per cubic meter Coastal region
Insulated Concrete PanelsKsh 1,350per square metre
A table showing the average cost of different affordable building materials in Kenya

Which Is the Cheapest House to Build in Kenya?

The cheapest houses in Kenya are constructed from readily available and affordable materials. Common ones include mabati and mud houses. You can also go for prefabricated houses that have already been assembled at a factory, like prefab containers, modular, pre-cut, and panelized homes.

What Building Materials Will Be Used in the Future?

Top research facilities constantly try to make cleaner, stronger, and more innovative construction materials. These are the top five innovative building materials that are likely to change the future of construction; 

  • Carbon-fibre reinforced concrete: A type of concrete strengthened with carbon-fibre yarn.  
  • Hemp rebar: Expected to be a low-carbon alternative to standard steel rebar 
  • Super-strong plastic (2DPA-1): It is light and mouldable but twice as strong as steel 
  • Carbon-sequestering Carbicrete: Unlike calcium-based cement that emits CO2, Carbicrete is a method for sequestering carbon in concrete, thus capturing more carbon than it emits. 
  • 3D-printed mycelium: Mycelium is the branching vegetative part of a fungus for construction 

In Conclusion

The cost of construction materials in Kenya varies with quality. New prospective homeowners still trying to make wealth can purchase inexpensive materials to construct semi-permanent houses.  

READ ALSO: Building vs Buying a Home: Which is Cheaper?

Nixon Aswani - Content Strategist
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