Whether in a rising or falling economy, you may needlessly quash the idea of building or upgrading walls due to financial strain. A tight budget might otherwise keep you from having a simple partition for privacy, a structurally important retaining wall or better-insulated framework. But don't let money troubles wall you in -- arm yourself with knowledge of a few low-cost or no-cost options and funding alternatives.
Certain materials are cheaper to work with than others are, but not all materials satisfy building-code requirements. It may be mandatory to build load-bearing walls, for example, from materials such as concrete reinforced with rebar or two-by-fours on 16-inch centers. As for non-load-bearing walls, two-by-threes cost less than two-by-fours. Retaining walls made from boulders are a free option over concrete blocks. But again, refer to building codes for your area when exploring any structural or nonstructural application, and obtain any necessary permits.
Partitions and Room Dividers
When you’re just looking to divide one space into two, a simple partition or room divider can save you time and money. Hang drapes, bed sheets or fabric panels from ceiling joists. If a hanging partition doesn’t appeal to you, consider standing a shoji screen or other store-bought room divider in place as an inexpensive wall. If you’re handy with basic tools, build a standing screen from folding closet doors by attaching a few of the panels in a “W” or accordion formation, using hinges.
No matter what type of building material or finishing product you’re looking for, from plywood to bricks to drywall to moldings, shop wisely to cut cost. Secondhand stores that stock used or discontinued building supplies offer prices at a fraction of new. Often, you can spot classified ads for someone’s new but leftover building supplies at reduced prices or even free online or in local newspapers. Retailers regularly sell old stock to make room for new, have door-crasher or going-out-of-business sales, or simply discount seasonal building materials to gain your business.
Grants, Loans and Tax Incentives
Depending on your location, your options to rebuild damaged walls or to better insulate the walls of an older home, for example, may include grants or low-interest, home-repair loans. For a home in need of repair, a low-income family may qualify for hardship assistance. If you’re retired or nearing retirement age, in a lower tax bracket or you don’t qualify for funding elsewhere, government departments, such as The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, is one place to start special-circumstance loan and grant inquiries. For homeowners who fall into a higher tax bracket, speak to your mortgage broker about a home-equity loan or line of credit. When green materials or energy efficiency is the goal -- such as with better insulation -- apply to agencies, such as The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, for funding or grants. For tax incentives, look to departments like The Tax Incentives Assistance Project. As the old adage says, take down "the walls of doubt" to open up a world of opportunity.
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Home Repairs: California
- United States Department of Agriculture Rural Developement: Rural Repair and Rehabilitation Loans and Grants
- Energy Tax Incentives.org: Tax Incentives Assistance Project (TIAP)
- California Codes Health and Safety Code: Health and Safety Code Section 18944.40-18944.41
- PATH: OSB vs. Plywood
- International Code Council: Chapter 6 Wall Construction
- Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images