A quality house for just twenty thousand dollars?

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After more than a decade of design work and prototyping, a team of architecture students at Auburn University in Atlanta have launched the first real-world pilot of their 20K Home—a house designed to be highly functional, attractive, and cost less than $20,000. The project is applying good design principles to the problem of affordable housing, demonstrating that it is feasible to create radically less expensive houses by approaching the problem from a fresh angle.

Fast Co.Exist (March 3, 2016) This House Costs Just $20,000—But It’s Nicer Than Yours

Rural Studio. 20K Home Product Line

Tree Hugger (February 9, 2016) Low-cost Rural Studio homes aspire to be built for $20,000

Housing is a basic human right and a sustainable society is one that ensures that all its inhabitants have adequate housing. However, income inequality and rising housing costs, particularly in cities, have combined to make housing out of reach for an increasing number of people.

This project showcases a solution that uses the same material and labour as in normal house construction, but is designed more intelligently to significantly cut costs and actually enhance performance.

One issue, though, is that the design is so different from standard house construction techniques that local code officials don’t understand them and may deny permits. Additionally, the extremely low price tag has made banks reluctant to provide mortgages. For the 20K Home to be scaled up, smarter design principles will have to be applied not just to materials and construction but also to zoning and finance. Should that work, however, the 20K home offers the possibility of addressing the problems of affordable housing and homelessness in the US and beyond.

Image Credit: Rural Studio

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