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Univ. of Kentucky College of Law

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to Build a Cheap House

Rural

For twenty years, students in Auburn University's Rural Studio architecture program have been working to perfect the design of a house that can be built for $20,000.  They now want to make their ideas available on the mass market:

But that's where the 20K house gets tricky. Its most desirable attribute also happens to be a bit of a curse. [...]  "It costs the same amount to underwrite a $150,000 as a $20,000, so there's always pressures to raise the cost of the house, whether it's from the bank lending the money, whether its from the builder looking to make a profit, whether it's from the real estate agent," Freear says. In order to keep the 20K house at $20,000, Rural Studio is looking to partner with nonprofits that will help make sure their good design stays affordable.

In the meantime, Freear says it's a bit difficult for him to let the nit-picked, hyper-optimized 20K designs loose in the world. "My anxiety is always that we find a better solution each year," he says. "We've designed this thing to an inch of its life."

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