For $20,000, These Students Can Build You a New Home

Flickr / Flaxe.

If you are mulling the idea of buying a new home, you are very likely aware that you will need to have $20,000 saved for every $100,000 worth of house you plan to purchase.

But, wait: what if you could buy a brand-new house for that same $20,000? Would you be interested?

If you said "yes", then you'll be glad to hear that the student architects at Auburn University's Rural Studio are beginning the process of marketing their 20K House Product Line, named for the mortgage amount considered affordable for an individual receiving the median Social Security monthly benefit.

Celebrating 20 years of "citizen architects"
The Rural Studio program was created by Auburn University architecture professors Dennis K. Ruth and Samuel Mockbee in 1993. The undergraduate offering, nestled within the college's School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, was meant to educate "citizen architects" who would be instrumental in developing affordable housing options for Alabama's poor. 

Over the years, the school has created over 600 such architects, and completed more than 150 projects for surrounding neighborhoods. The homes were small, approximately 550 square feet, and built by the students themselves for the state's poorest inhabitants. Now, the Rural Studio wants to bring their product to areas beyond their immediate environs. 

Economically sustainable
By the year 2005, the Rural Studio program members were ready to start building their 20K Houses. The idea was simple: Create a quality, buildable design that is affordable for the least wealthy persons, and that could be replicated by contractors in other areas. The school's affordable housing concept included a development program that would infuse $16 million into the local area's economy, while giving the contractor a yearly income of over $60,000 and three assistants annual salaries of $22,200. A bank loan or government rural loan would provide the financing. 

The 20K House is emblematic of Rural Studio's multi-faceted community support model, and the notion of supplying well-engineered housing for a pittance – as well as providing an economic boost to the community where the work is being done – is an admirable one.

The question is, of course, whether the concept can truly be transferred to the masses. After all, not everyone wants to live in the space generally allotted to a studio apartment.

A work in progress
The Rural Studio staff is aware that space can be a problem, and is currently working on a two-bedroom version of the 20K House. Currently, there are 12 styles of 20K homes, and the team stays in contact with the recipients of the experimental houses. That way, the students can learn about the aspects of the buildings that need improvement. 

So far, all the houses are southern homes, and have particular design features because of the locale. For instance, each house has a front porch, something homes in other parts of the country may not find necessary or appealing. Expanding the reach of the 20K House may very well change the design and look of the homes in a positive way.

Though the issue isn't addressed by the team, it is conceivable that the concept house could be expanded in many ways, such as size and cost – as well as the scope of the project's target audience. Perhaps 1,000 square-foot houses could be offered for larger families, for a higher, but still affordable, price. Amenities could be added, and homes could be offered to low-to-moderate income individuals and families, as well.

The possibilities seem endless, and the project is still in its very early stages. As it continues tweaking its plan to bring shelter to the impoverished, there is a very good chance that Rural Studio may be in the process of pioneering the home of the future.

Take advantage of this little-known tax "loophole"
Recent tax increases have affected nearly every American taxpayer. But with the right planning, you can take steps to take control of your taxes and potentially even lower your tax bill. In our brand-new special report "The IRS Is Daring You to Make This Investment Now!," you'll learn about the simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule. Don't miss out on advice that could help you cut taxes for decades to come. Click here to learn more.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 14, 2014, at 9:06 PM, Walkingonwater wrote:

    I am located in Florida ( Englewood, FL 34224)

    This sounds like a miracle for someone low income and basically homeless like me.

    I am staying with a friend for the time being.

    I have health and mental health conditions that interferes with me keeping a job.( I am currently taking medications) There for I don't have one. What I do have is a small savings.

    my only life savings my entire life. I am 37yrs .

    I have more than half of the 20k needed.

    I am running out of options, and fear that I will end up loosing the little I have saved up if I rent a place. I might be applying for SSI in the near future as I see my health getting worst and no income at all.

    PLEASE PLEASE Let me know if its possible that I can be eligible for this wonderful deed you guys are doing for the less fortunate.

    God Bless. Thank YOU in advance.

    I am not sure what the Florida law is on minimum square footage on a house.

    I can be reached at :

    ShineSoBright2012 @ yahoo . com

  • Report this Comment On May 08, 2015, at 2:36 AM, americanindian wrote:

    please do not forget the american indians.....miley cirus is working with homeless people...

Add your comment.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2993334, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 8/29/2015 9:57:50 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Amanda Alix

Foolish financial writer since early 2012, striving to demystify the intriguing field of finance -- which, contrary to popular opinion, is truly what makes the world go 'round.

Today's Market

updated 1 day ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,643.01 -11.76 -0.07%
S&P 500 1,988.87 1.21 0.06%
NASD 4,828.33 15.62 0.32%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes