Jade Small
Jade Small
February 19, 2024 ·  3 min read

Couple Built a 480-Square-Foot Home for $68K in Cash

Large and luxurious homes are becoming less popular by the day. As more and more people are seeking alternative ways of earning an income, they are branching out with their ideals of the perfect home. We are now able to create a gorgeous home at a fraction of the cost that a normal house would demand. One couple has paved the way towards affordable housing by building a 48-square-foot house for $68k.

Affordable Housing At its Finest

Before Madison and Mark moved into their new affordable housing, they lived in a camper van. This might be a dream for the nomads. But, for Madison and Mark, it seemed to be a temporary solution before their new home, which they now live in with their 4-year-old son.

Affordable housing
Image credit: Dwell | Ann Madden Photography

Featured on Dwell, the house they designed looks like the typical tiny houses that people have been popularizing over the last few years. However, it sure is no small house. Built predominantly with containers, it is approximately 480 square feet. “We didn’t design it as a tiny house. We designed it as a super-efficient house we could pay cash for,” explains Mark. “If that makes it tiny, so be it, but it wasn’t a marketing thing—this is all we need, and all we can afford.”

Between the living space an bedroom
Image credit: Dwell | Ann Madden Photography

Furthermore, Madison and Mark designed their home and built it themselves. The best part is, they only spent R68k and they paid for everything in cash. This means they did not have to apply for a home loan, or use their credit cards and add to any debt they may have. “We wanted to build what we could without a loan,” says Mark

They built their affordable housing in 2017, and the budget was according to the state of the economy at that time. Sadly, Mark did point out that the costs would not reflect the same in today’s economic status. However, they were indeed lucky enough to have constructed their home, along with the help of their dedicated friends, just in the nick of time.

Image credit: Dwell | Ann Madden Photography

House Specifications

Their affordable housing consisted of two containers. Both are 10-foot-by-24 feet. One side is the living space, which includes a lounge and an open-plan kitchen. The other side is dedicated to their bedroom and bathroom. Between the two containers is a beautiful open-aired deck area. This doubles as a second lounge and porch. Madison and Mark could sit outside and enjoy their morning coffee if they wished.

Madison and Marl outside on their porch
Image credit: Dwell | Ann Madden Photography

At first, the house was experimental. They played with durability and affordability and found a balance between the two. “We built the house as an experiment,” says Madison. “How could we live in a cost-effective, smaller way? And I’d say it was a pretty successful experiment. We bring in only what we need. We live more minimally because we have to.”

The bathroom sink for affordable housing
Image credit: Dwell | Ann Madden Photography

They live in Madison County, where hurricanes frequent the land. This was taken into consideration in the design of the house, and Mark ensured it was safe to withstand a strong storm. As opposed to vinyl windows, they chose sturdy aluminum-clad windows for extra longevity.

The Bedroom
Image credit: Dwell | Ann Madden Photography

In terms of the floor, it is made of plywood with top-notch hard fortune floor paint. The color of the floor in the bedroom is a teal shade, and the living room is a marigold hue. Madison proudly spoke about this cost-effective decision. “It was a great budget decision, but also, they’re not too precious,” says Madison. “We didn’t want it to be a big deal if something got scuffed up.”


  1. Budget Breakdown: How a Couple Built a 480-Square-Foot Home for $68K in Cash.DWELL. Stacey McLachlan.
  2. Budget Breakdown: How a Couple Built a 480-Square-Foot Home for $68K in Cash.MSN. Stacy Mclachlen. Dec 13, 2022