Karrie Jacobs


February 12, 2009

The Perfect $20,000 House Scrapbook

The Bridge House, Greensboro, Alabama, designed and built by Rural Studio, 2008.

I just noticed that my Metropolitan Home article about the 20K houses that Pam Dorr and Rural Studio have been building in Greensboro, Alabama is available online. Pam is a former Rural Studio outreach student who settled down in Alabama and began to work on housing rights issues through a non-profit called HERO. She came up with the concept of the 20K house as a way to provide decent housing to elderly widows on extremely limited incomes, and got Rural Studio to build prototypes. The photos accompanying my article show the newest and cutest batch, completed spring (or early summer) of 2008.

I thought I’d post some of my photos of the newest houses, which range in size from 300 to 600 square feet, and also some of the earlier iterations (larger, but less cute). And also give a shout out to graphic designer John Bielenberg and his Project M Lab crew, a do-gooder/trouble maker design workshop that I went down to Greensboro to visit last year. (Of course, the real reason I went down was because I’d been hearing about Pam Dorr and her 20Ks for ages and wanted to meet her. But don’t tell anyone.)

P.S. The Perfect $100,000 House is now available electronically via Kindle and MobiPocket books.

The Loft House, by Rural Studio, 2008.

Ignore the woman in the pink tube top and check out the Loft House’s scary but efficient staircase. 

The Roundwood house, framed with logs sold as scrap by the forest service, took a little longer to complete.

The cutest of the cute is the Pattern Book house.

My favorite detail on the Pattern Book house is the ventilation system.

This is the 2007 edition of the 20K project, a neighbor to the four houses above. It’s actually two apartments occupied by brothers, joined by a screened dogtrot.

This one-room shotgun house, completed in 2006, is the model that the current students are trying to refine into an easily replicable 20K model.

This house gains inexpensive square footage with a generous back porch. Unfortunately, the owner hasn’t found a real use for this space.