It's a formidable challenge to design a home that will be affordable for people living under the poverty line, but will also appeal to prospective home buyers able to pay a higher price. This January, architecture students at Rural Studio, Auburn University’s design-build program, finished their first pilot project in Newbern, Ala. that might serve both groups—two one-bedroom houses, that each cost only $14,000 in materials.

The project, 20K Home, is a result of decade-long efforts from students and professors at Rural Studio, who hope to offer affordable homes out into the public’s hands. The Rural Studio team spent countless hours tweaking details of the homes in order to reduce costs and maximize value.

image via Fast Company
image via Fast Company

The foundation of the 20K Home is supported by cantilevers with seesaw-like joists in order to minimize the cost of wood and concrete. This allows better home performance than traditionally built homes, without compromising any structural integrity.

The students initially aimed for a total cost of $20,000 (including construction), but later modified the cost to construct their prototypes because they believe construction workers deserve a better living wage. They also opted out of manufactured prefab materials, which allowed the project to create jobs and contribute to local economy.

image via Fast Company
image via Fast Company

The students produced an elaborate user guide—just like IKEA instructions—to explain every step of the 20K Home building process. Using that guide, clients who wish to cut labor costs will still be able to build the home for less than $20,000.

Visit Fast Company for more details about the project.

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