Where Homework Means Building Affordable Housing

Each year, beginning in the fall, a group of third-year architecture students from Auburn University take up residence in a small rural Alabama town to begin building a house. In the winter, when a new semester begins, they are replaced at the Newbern, Alabama, project site by another cohort of 16 students who finish up the job and prepare the house for its new occupants. The 20K Home Project began 13 years ago as a challenge to architecture students at Auburn to build a $20,000 house, with $12,000 in material and $8,000 for labor. The idea was to create “the perfect house” for needy families in rural areas where dwellings are often substandard and where affordable building can be a logistical challenge.