Town Reinvents Homebuilding With Flat-Pack Houses Under $150k

Town Reinvents Homebuilding With Flat-Pack Houses Under $150k

Holland has always had a progressive take on affordable housing, especially where apartments and co-housing are concerned. But a new government program is making it possible for people who make as little as $US40,000 a year to build their own homes — all through the magic of flat-packing.

The program is called I build affordable in Nijmegen (or IbbN), and it’s more like buying a car than buying a house. The city offers potential owners a loan for the land and the house, which buyers pick from a roster of 30 specially-designed prefab packages which start at less than $US150,000. The cost and schedule of building the house — and here’s what makes this program so crazy — is fixed, eliminating the primary reason many people hesitate to build their own home.

This being the Netherlands, design quality matters. Nijmegen invited 20 Dutch firms to develop the 30 home packages, which range from gabled townhome to wood shack. Each of the options comes with a menu of customisations, too — you can change your facade from wood shingles to metal panels, say, or extend the house with an extra room or patio. And because most of the components are assembled off-site, they take roughly a month and a half to assemble.

In a Guardian article about IbbN, one of the architects involved with the project explains the allure:

Since the economic crisis, both architects and the city are trying to find new ways to build houses. There are few developers willing to build, so the city is selling plots directly to the residents and letting them do it for themselves. People always think working with an architect will be more expensive and take longer, but this way they feel more secure. We’ve always wanted to make a really cheap, sustainable house and this gives us a great way into the market.

There are plenty of flat-pack and self-build companies flourishing in other places. But what makes IbbN innovative isn’t necessarily the architecture — it’s the knowledge that your project won’t go over budget (or schedule). [Guardian]

A home by 8A Architecten (who designed the package in the lead image, too) costs $US150,000 total.

A concept from Bendien/Wierenga Architects. Left image via Wired UK.

EX.s Architecture designed this flatpack cabin.

Lilith Ronner van Hooijdonk‘s contribution to the program uses hay bales for insulation.