The brief: Create a new approach to rural infill housing development

The Frugal House project, a partnership between Allen County, Thrive Allen County, and “a boulder Humboldt”. This project aims to create a new approach to rural infill housing development that is valuable, attainable, and relevant to revitalizing rural communities.

Background: The Frugal House project was inspired by discussions with David Broyles on the challenges and opportunities of building small houses in Humboldt. We realized that there was a clear need and a potential market for affordable and attractive housing in rural areas. Jonathan Goring, the economic development director for Allen County, initiated a small grant opportunity from KHRC to support this vision. We leveraged this modest grant into a comprehensive initiative that considered all aspects of affordable housing construction in rural areas.

Objective: Our objective is to build moderate income housing that uses simple construction methods, prefabricated modules, and design variation. We want to support local builders, create simple and familiar homes that enhance rural communities, and involve more people in the building process. We also want to allow design customization and adaptation to suit different needs and preferences.

Deliverables: Our deliverables include a prototype house that demonstrates the potential of our new methodology for creating housing markets in small towns in southeastern Kansas, a design toolkit that provides guidelines and templates for creating different types of rural infill housing using prefabricated modules, and a community engagement strategy that encourages more people to participate in the building process.

Challenges: We have faced some challenges along the way, such as the lack of supply and support services for housing in rural areas, the high costs and low quality of conventional housing construction methods, the limited design options and customization for rural housing, and the low involvement and participation of local residents in housing development. We have also encountered some market fluctuations and supply chain issues that have affected our budget and timeline.

The prototype: The prototype is not just a single house, but a different construction process that breaks away from the standard models of rural housing. It is an opportunity to redefine what housing means to small communities like Humboldt. We started with a definition of a Humboldt house: Frugal House is a bold statement paying homage to the rural forms and simple construction combined with an urban lifestyle suitable to the direction of the city of Humboldt.

We are building localized home building industries and creating distinctive markets for housing. Our mission is to deliver a high-quality product that will make small towns more competitive in larger regional markets. A community engagement strategy that encourages more people to participate in the building process and share their feedback and preferences.