The Tata Group, which brought us the world’s cheapest car the Tata Nano, is also set to build world’s cheapest homes. Tata’s new project is to build houses which cost only $700 and can be built in a week. Each house will be 215 square foot with pre-fabricated kit including doors, windows and a roof.
The price tag for the house is $700, which translates to Rs. 32,000 INR. For that price you can buy an iPad or a Samsung Galaxy S2. Imagine buying a house instead of an iPad. That would be might liberating. Of course, the house has to be placed on a piece of land which has its own cost associated with it.
$700 is the price of the base version which comes with interiors clad in coconut fibre or jute. The house has a lifespan of 20 years. There is another variant of the house which is a 30-square meter version with a solar panel and a verandah.
Tata already has three designs in the works and is going on a field test in West Bengal. The state of Bengal and Tata go long way back. Tata’s Nano project was pulled out of Bengal because of strong opposition from Mamatha Banarjee, now Chief Minister of West Bengal. Tata’s choice of Bengal for yet another Nano project is interesting. Tata plans to sell these houses to private buyers who already have a plot of land and to state governments who plan to build houses on a mass scale.
In a country which has a $2bn house with 27 floors, having a 215 square foot house might actually sound poor. It isn’t poverty. It’s a symbol of simplicity. Of late, there’s a silent revolution going on across the world where people are re-thinking and re-designing their living spaces. Some are doing out of curiosity and some are doing out of necessity. Jay Shafer lives in a 89 square foot house which has a loft as a bedroom. Fuyuhito Moriya lives in a 323 square feet house in Tokyo which is built on 30 square meters. Best part is, it is a 3-storey building. Of course for Shafer and Moriya, money isn’t a problem. Space is. For Tata’s test case which is India, both money and space are a problem.
Regardless of what motivates people it’s well proven that living in small space is possible. With great plans and intelligent furniture designs, small living could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. You don’t have all the maintenance to deal with.
Just like the Tata Nano car became the first choice for a second car for many wealthy Indians, I hope this $700 house doesn’t become a summer home or honeymoon suite.