A home of one’s own has always been a cornerstone of the American dream, fulfilling like nothing else the desire for comfort, financial security, independence, and with a little luck, even a touch of distinctive character, or even beauty. But what we have come to regard as almost a national birthright has recently begun to elude more and more prospective homebuyers. Where housing is concerned, affordable and well-crafted rarely exist together. Or do they?
For years, founding editor-in-chief of Dwell magazine and noted architecture and design critic Karrie Jacobs had been confronting this question both professionally and personally. Finally, she decided to see for herself whether it was possible to build the home of her own dreams for a reasonable sum. The Perfect $100,000 House is the story of that quest, a search that takes her from a two-week crash course in housebuilding in Vermont to a road trip of some 14,000 miles. In the course of her journey Jacobs encounters a group of intrepid and visionary architects and builders working to revolutionize the way Americans thinks about homes, about construction techniques, and about the very idea of community. By her trip’s end Jacobs, has not only had a practical and sobering education in the economics, aesthetics, and politics of homebuilding, but has been spurred to challenge her own deeply held beliefs about what constitutes an ideal home. The Perfect $100,000 House is a compelling and inspiring demonstration that we can live in homes that are sensible, modest, and beautiful.