These low-cost tiny homes, built for $20,000

These low-cost tiny homes, built for $20,000

If tiny houses can be built in rural areas for around $20,000, why isn’t this something people are doing more? These are nice looking, small, manageable studio tiny homes.

The designers behind this particular tiny house designed the building with price in mind. It’s called the 20K house. The project was exactly that: to design a tiny house people could build for 20 thousand dollars. But the other side of the project was that the tiny house not be too tiny.

So this tiny house is 550 square feet. It’s not one of those under-300 ones, so people have a bit of room to swing their arms.

The project dates back to 1993 and a fellow named Sam Mockbee and is part of something called “social justice architecture.”

The organization that builds these tiny homes, Rural Studio, has designed and developed over a dozen models at around the same square footage.

According to Rusty Smith of Fast Company, these tiny homes are built a bit different from traditional and prefab houses:

“The houses are designed to appear to be sort of normative, but they’re really high-performance little machines in every way. 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.”

Some design features that contribute to the uniqueness of this style of tiny house (which you might have noticed from the image above):

– Small windows, and not many of them
– Building sits on piers and wooden joists
– Transom openings over rooms for cross-ventilation (interior)

Anyone thinking of building one of these should be aware that 20K was a term invented in 1993 — that’s 23 years ago. Prices have gone up a bit since then. For example, the house in the picture cost around 14K for materials, and total cost was higher than 20K. However, the 20K name is still used and is still the idea behind these tiny homes: houses that people on a smaller budget can afford and can start living in a house. For more of Rural Studio’s work, find them in the Building Homes and Living directory.