Almost every part of a new home can be obtained at lower cost through using recycled goods and bartering. The concept is very simple. Someone, somewhere likely has an excess of what you’re looking for and will gladly trade or sell those goods at below market cost.
For instance, plumbers replace sinks and bathtubs routinely. Busy plumbers have so many old ones that they can barely give them away fast enough. While some fixtures will be in poor condition, many are replaced because they have a small chip or because people want something new and more fashionable.
You can buy recycled building materials from Salvation Army or Habitat Restores and similar thrift stores. This makes shopping convenient because there’s a large selection under one roof.
Often the lowest prices can be found by dealing directly with people who have items they no longer need. It’s amazing what can be scrounged from remodelers, dumpsters, trash haulers, demolition companies and curb sides (drive around at night in affluent neighborhoods). Workers at city dumps typically sort out items of value and sell at very low cost. And don’t forget about yard sales and Craigs List.
You can use the same process to find low cost earthbags (sandbags). Network with farmers and feed stores in your area to locate used grain or feed bags in good condition. Make sure they are comparable in strength to new sandbags and have been stored away from sunlight. You could buy one new sandbag for comparison, and fill and tamp one sample bag before buying a large quantity.
I know artists who have built their homes with recycled materials, and the end results are stunning. One of these artists mixed various colored 4”x4” tiles using leftovers from tile workers and made the most beautiful countertop I’ve ever seen.