I've spent most of my architectural career in conventional residential design, but for the past few years I've been concentrating on two types of factory-built housing. Working on affordable housing has given me a new respect for those builders and designers who try to make architecture on a budget that might seem to call for an oversized refrigerator carton. Here are a few tips I've picked up to make low-cost homes look better without busting the budget.

Figure 1.This plain house is an economical starter home for a "colonia" in South Texas. Just by steepening the front and back roof pitches, you add a certain dignity to the house that's lacking in the version with the 5-in-12 roof slope on all four sides.

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