Budget Breakdown: A Young Couple Turn a Termite-Infested Shack Into a Luxury Home for $46K

Eager to test their design chops, an American couple go to Costa Rica to tackle their first design-build challenge—for under $200 per square foot.
Text by

Tired of the daily grind and city life, junior architect Mike Donahue, 27, and self-taught designer Lauren Walker, 30, packed two suitcases—and their poodle—and left the U.S. for the tropics of Costa Rica. But it wasn’t a vacation that the couple sought—they wanted creative freedom, and saw the move as a chance for a year-long "self-guided study abroad," where they would design and build in a different culture.

Join Dwell+ to Continue

Subscribe to Dwell+ to get everything you already love about Dwell, plus exclusive home tours, video features, how-to guides, access to the Dwell archive, and more. You can cancel at any time.

Try Dwell+ for FREE

Already a Dwell+ subscriber? Sign In


Last Updated