What kind of house could one reasonably expect to build for only $150 a square foot? Well, that depends on everything from site preparation requirements to construction management fees, so it's hard to say, but the typical answer would be "an unimpressive one." Atlanta residents Michael Lewis and Silvia Vera were effectively told as much when they first floated their plan to build a fetching modern home on that tight a budget. The couple had already been turned down once, and even laughed at by one architect's assistant before they came to Staffan Svenson of the Atlanta firm Dencity with the idea. At the time, Svenson was working on a $4M abode complete with a shooting range and aviary, but he took on the project, embracing the challenge of, as the architect recently explained to Dwell, building a "simple but nice and modern house" on the cheap. Completed in 2010, the Lewin-Vera House is a testament to the difference an above-average amount of personal initiative can make on the cost of residential design.
Working in concert with Svenson, Lewis took it upon himself to source affordable materials—including some that were recycled from the home previously occupying his plot of central Atlanta real estate—as well as acquire the necessary building permit, which was no easy feat, given the steep incline of the site. The old house was demolished in February 2010, and after a speedy construction process, the new house in its place—a minimalist red-orange rectangle—received its finishing touches by November of that year. Locally sourced cypress was used for the deck of the half-covered outdoor living room; steel for the cantilever and bridge; and fiber-reinforced concrete panels for most of the exterior.
With half of the top floor devoted to the sheltered porch, the rest features a combined living room, dining room, and kitchen, with the lower level home to three bedrooms and an office. Head over to Dwell for more on the outdoor furniture chosen for the porch, or to Lewin's blog for month-by-month coverage of the entire project, as well as a more extensive batch of interior photos.