Increased Sustainability and Lower Cost The Focus of Small Green House Plans

The architectural design firm 5 Elements Design has launched their first three semi-custom stock home plans, designed to be eco friendly, lower energy costs, and allow families to benefit from a custom house plan without the cost of an architect. The firm is concentrating on small house plans from 500-1500 square feet in response to the increased desire of homeowners to downsize while still retaining all the function of a larger home.

MOD 15 House Plan

Partner and co-founder Misty Weaver says, "Our clients really want to live smaller, but they aren't interested in giving up their family rooms, or storage. We are focusing on designs that feel bigger than they are, and incorporating built-ins and other design features that make room for realistic family living. In the past, designers creating small and tiny houses have ignored families almost entirely, instead designing for singles and couples. We are changing that, allowing families to reconnect in a smaller, distinctive home."

You won't see the traditional ranch and colonial designs available on most house plan websites. Each house plan is designed around one or more of the natural elements found on Earth, including water, fire, and wind, to take advantage of geographic topographies and incorporate energy saving design into each home. The MOD consists of three different modules, the living, sleeping and bedroom suite, which can be combined in many different configurations to meet the needs of a growing family. The Stilts combines the style of a modern beach house with an eco friendly butterfly roof and rain cistern to conserve water usage. The Introvert takes the idea of a hacienda and marries it with a traditional roman home with central courtyard that allows every room to open onto each other to take advantage of passive heating and air circulation. The designers have tried to maintain traditional lines outside the homes with a modern edge to attract more conservative home builders. "We've found that when a family is building a home, they say they want modern design, but they don't want a home that looks completely different than the homes they are surrounded by, so we have tried to incorporate traditional design that can blend into older neighborhoods."

Weaver says, "We spoke with a lot of potential clients that wanted green design but didn't know where to start as far as product and material options, and couldn't afford the typical 5% to 8% commission an architect charges for custom home design. By focusing on this segment of home buyers whose needs aren't being met by traditional stock home plans, we are helping green home design become more mainstream even in the lower new home price ranges."

Each house design includes a range of energy saving elements such as solar panels, rain cisterns, green roofs, trombe walls, passive heating and cooling, and recommended energy star appliances. Included with the house plans is a list of recommended building materials to help those clients that don't have the time to research products on their own. "We designed each home around traditional building material sizes to minimize waste during construction and allow the possibility of using SIPs and other modular methods to help cut energy costs even further. Connecting clients with builders in their area that are open to green, energy efficient design methods is another perk we offer our clients. Unlike traditional stock house plan websites, we don't just send our clients a printed house plan and leave them to figure out the next step," explains Weaver.

5 Elements Design believes that eco friendly design should be accessible to everyone, not just families building on a large budget. House plans range from $995 to $1995, and custom home design is available. "We hope to take our designs a step further and offer the houses in prefab and modular methods in order to lower building costs and increase energy efficiency in the future," says partner Sarah Ascolese.

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