Infrastructure & Environment

June 2014 Last Look: A House Built for Just $20,000

Since 2005, students at Auburn University have been building homes designed for just about anyone to afford.
by | June 2014
Timothy Hursley
 

If you told someone you could build them a house in today’s real estate market for $20,000, they’d think you were crazy. But that’s just what students at Auburn University’s Rural Studio in Newbern, Ala., have done. Since 2005, students have been designing and building low-cost architectural gems in search of model homes that can be reproduced on a large scale by a contractor and built onsite for $20,000. The figure was chosen because it was considered the most realistic mortgage for someone living on Social Security. The Rural Studio has come up with 10 versions of the 20K House and is now looking to market them. Established two decades ago by Samuel Mockbee, a well-known Southern architect from Mississippi, and fellow Auburn professor D.K. Ruth, the Rural Studio’s mission is to produce “citizen architects” who understand that everyone, particularly the poor, deserve a place to call home. Architects, Mockbee told his students, weren’t meant to be “house pets for the rich.” To date, the Rural Studio has completed some 150 projects.

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