It’s often argued that providing homes to people will alleviate poverty, the problem is that homes are insanely expensive. Many attempts at making cheap house have happened but most meet with little success because of a litany of reasons. The material cost of a building aren’t the burden – instead it’s everything else. A new house that costs only $20,000 (USD) is looking to change all of that.
Years of architecture students, and their advisors, have spent more than a hundred thousand hours tweaking each detail of the house to optimize both the function and the price. But the bigger challenge is fitting a house that’s completely different than normal into the existing system of zoning, and codes, how contractors do their jobs, and even mortgages.
“The houses are designed to appear to be sort of normative, but they’re really high-performance little machines in every way,” says Smith. “They’re built more like airplanes than houses, which allows us to have them far exceed structural requirements. … We’re using material much more efficiently. But the problem is your local code official doesn’t understand that. They look at the documents, and the house is immediately denied a permit simply because the code officials didn’t understand it.”