Architecture

20K House project aims to make home ownership more affordable

20K House project aims to make...
The 20K House project was launched in 2005 by Rural Studio (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
The 20K House project was launched in 2005 by Rural Studio (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
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The 20K House project was launched in 2005 by Rural Studio (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
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The 20K House project was launched in 2005 by Rural Studio (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
The houses themselves range greatly in size, shape, and materials used, but all sport a carefully-considered design (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
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The houses themselves range greatly in size, shape, and materials used, but all sport a carefully-considered design (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
Rural Studio is currently raising funds to build eight new 20K Houses in the Hale County area (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
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Rural Studio is currently raising funds to build eight new 20K Houses in the Hale County area (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
The group is also aiming to change the 20K House from a project to a mass-marketed product (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
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The group is also aiming to change the 20K House from a project to a mass-marketed product (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
The price tag of $20,000 derives from what was felt to be the highest mortgage a person receiving Social Security checks could realistically afford to pay (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
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The price tag of $20,000 derives from what was felt to be the highest mortgage a person receiving Social Security checks could realistically afford to pay (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
For many people, the prospects of owning a house are very dim. However, the 20K House project by Rural Studio, an off-campus design-build program of Auburn University, aims to tackle this (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
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For many people, the prospects of owning a house are very dim. However, the 20K House project by Rural Studio, an off-campus design-build program of Auburn University, aims to tackle this (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
To date, Rural Studio has designed 12 different versions of the 20K House (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
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To date, Rural Studio has designed 12 different versions of the 20K House (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
The 20K House project was launched in 2005 by Rural Studio (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
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The 20K House project was launched in 2005 by Rural Studio (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
Rural Studio is an off-campus design-build program of Auburn University (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
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Rural Studio is an off-campus design-build program of Auburn University (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
The houses themselves range greatly in size, shape, and materials used, but all sport a carefully-considered design (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
10/12
The houses themselves range greatly in size, shape, and materials used, but all sport a carefully-considered design (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
Rural Studio is currently raising funds to build eight new 20K Houses in the Hale County area (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
11/12
Rural Studio is currently raising funds to build eight new 20K Houses in the Hale County area (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
The price tag of $20,000 derives from what was felt to be the highest mortgage a person receiving Social Security checks could realistically afford to pay (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
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The price tag of $20,000 derives from what was felt to be the highest mortgage a person receiving Social Security checks could realistically afford to pay (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)

For many people, the chance of owning their own house is very slim indeed. However, the 20K House project by Rural Studio, an off-campus design-build program of Auburn University, aims to tackle this, and make house ownership possible for more people with an attractive and safe modern property for just US$20,000.

The 20K House project was launched in 2005 by Rural Studio in an effort to address the need for local affordable housing while offering an alternative to mobile homes. The price tag of $20,000 derives from what was felt to be the highest mortgage a person receiving Social Security checks could realistically afford to pay.

To date, Rural Studio has designed 12 different versions of the 20K House, each of which cost roughly $12,000 for materials, with $8,000 of the budget set aside for contracted labor and profit.

The 20K House project was launched in 2005 by Rural Studio (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)
The 20K House project was launched in 2005 by Rural Studio (Photo: Tim Hursley/RuralStudio 20K)

The houses themselves range greatly in size, shape, and materials used, but all sport a carefully-considered design and boast useful features such as a concrete safe room for protection from tornadoes, and passive cooling.

Rural Studio is currently raising funds to build eight new 20K Houses in the Hale County area, and the group is also aiming to change the 20K House from a project to a mass-marketed product. To this end, the organization is currently working on refining its production process, including ensuring the homes meet Federal Housing Administration standards.

Source: Rural Studio

13 comments
BigGoofyGuy
IMO, this will keep the American dream from becoming a nightmare. It is way better than getting a house only to have it foreclosed on. It is way better than any mobile home could be. It also seems to be part of the small house trend.
MBadgero
So the assumption here appears to be that they would pay a mortgage on the home and rent a lot, as with a mobile home. This still becomes unaffordable over time, since the lot rent goes up. And the lot rent plus the mortgage would probably be beyond the means of those on social security even to start with unless there were two checks coming in.
Slowburn
It does not look any nicer or roomier than a trailer house without the advantage of being able to move it on little more than a whim.
Derek Howe
most of those look pretty.....sparse. BigWarpGuy - lol, what small house trend? People still want a bigger house then they can afford, there is no trend for the average person to move into a smaller home. Unless your talking about the hippy crowd, but that's a very small minority, hardly a trend. I'd rather live in a small apartment or crappy trailer then this, so I could save up and buy a real house.
Bruce H. Anderson
Once out of the metropolitan area and suburbia (look at the pictures), some people own their own land but their homes can be a little worse for wear. These homes have no granite countertops or other signs of conspicuous consumption, but offer decent housing for decent folk. I have swung a hammer on several Habitat houses, so I applaud Rural Studio's efforts and wish them well.
jerryd
What sad responses! MB, land is dirt cheap in the south so land to put it on isn't a problem. And likely on donated land. Derek, what is your problem? This is so much better than a trailer is obvious. If you want to pay high rents forever that is your rather not smart choice. I paid my place off in 5 yrs at $300/month including 2 lots in town in Fla. So I've been living for around $200/month since it's been paid off including everything like food, heat, A/C, charging my EV's, my workshops, etc. So go ahead and work your rear off paying all those bills you have and I'll be on my 34' trimaran sunset sailing with some pretty girls thinking about why people pay so much for near nothing and working your rear off trying to stay ahead. So who is the not bright one, you or me?
Grainpaw
I like the idea as something basic that could be modified and added to over time. But those steps don't need to be twelve feet wide.
flylowguy
I like the concept, but it needs more work. If the house could be constructed mostly of free indigenous structural material, like compressed earth block, and if the land could be doled out in long term leases by the government, this would have a chance. Oh, and get the price down to less than half. It might well become the current day equivalent of the 'poor farm' from days gone by when there were no real safety nets. Meanwhile, they already have this concept in production and distribution today. It's called a trailer park.
chidrbmt
These may very well be the houses of the future. When the 1% finally own the 99%,there will be no other options.
Gregg Eshelman
What could make homes less expensive is reviving the method of preparing all the materials at a factory then shipping the kit to the build site. Sears, Montgomery Ward and some other companies did that for a long time. One lasted into the early 1980's.