More affordable green home plans coming to market

| by Gary Wollenhaupt
More affordable green home plans coming to market

Photo courtesy Homeplans.com, design ©William Poole Designs.

As environmentally friendly, “green” homes become a larger part of the homebuilding landscape, San Francisco-based Houseplans.com, is helping bring that trend to life.

In September 2014, Houseplans.com acquired FreeGreen.com, an online company known for their custom green home designs, offering designs from traditional to modern homes.

In an exclusive interview with ProudGreenHome.com, Houseplans.com CEO James Roche discussed the growth of green building and the home plans available for people looking to build a high performance home.

Homeplans.com CEO James Roche

Roche said Houseplans.com offers tens of thousands of homes, cottages, kitchen plans, and more, designed by world-renowned architects, making the once-expensive and complex process of designing or renovating a home both simple and affordable. 

Q: What is the goal of Houseplans.com in meeting the demands for house plans for high performance homes?

A: We're focused on lowering the cost of getting people into their dream home. It's possible because now people have the another option instead of going to an architect that might cost $8,000 to $10,000 or in California or on the East Coast might cost $50,000 or more. Now we provide architect-designed plans for an average of $800.

That helps people get started faster. The process of creating plans with an architect and a builder takes months, compared to a few days. The third piece is, from the beginning you know what the house will look like.

Q: Can people customize their home plans?

A: People like to say, that's the house I want but I want to make a few changes. That's much more comfortable than starting from blank piece of paper. Basically, 100 percent of our plans end up being customized. Everyone wants it to be their dream home.

Q: What trends are you seeing the marketplace?

A:  We're seeing growth as the market begins to recover. We're also seeing significant trends towards contemporary, eco-friendly and energy efficient homes. People used to be looking for gigantic Tuscan villas. That was their dream. Now people are realizing they want a house that is physically comfortable and is affordable.

There is some virtue in building in a sustainable way, so you're having the least impact on the earth you can get away with when building a new house.

Q: How do you create a high performance home starting with the plan?

A: We do things that are easy to incorporate, such as almost all the plans we sell have 2x6 walls for more insulation. In our designs and modifications, we talk about siting, because what solar orientation the house has is critically important. We talk about the quality of the windows, we talk about solar mass and what will be used for the floor, will it be built on a slab or are there other options.

We're focused on getting the highest bang for the buck that we and to get people to consider not buying a high-end range in exchange for doing better insulation, for instance. Those are not always easy conversations to win, but we're now having those conversations now and that's important.

Q: Are there any specific green building technologies that people frequently mention?

A: There's an increasing interest in structural insulated panel (SIP) houses, but we talk to people about it a lot more than we than we actually get people to do it.

The thing is, our plan buyers use a local contractor, and if the local contractor is not comfortable with the SIP-based system then he won't do it. There's a piece of the process that needs to evolve that we don't control, that's the construction practices of your local contractors.

People are listening, and as building codes continue to evolve we will have more success in selling these energy efficient homes.

Q: Is there still reluctance in the market place to consider a high performance home?

Courtesy homeplans.com

A: People have long-term dreams about their houses, and it's hard to change their minds at the last minute. They think they wanted this Tuscan home in the Texas countryside or the mountain chalet in the Carolina hills, it's hard to come in at the last minute and say what you really want is a panelized system with a butterfly roof that's oriented for solar panels and so on.

We've done ourselves a little disservice saying you should build green because you're a steward of the earth. I believe that personally but I don't think people respond to it. What I think people respond to is more day-to-day.

Two things they care about, they want their house to be cheap to operate and they want it to be comfortable. They want it to be warm and they don't want it to be drafty. Those are the kinds of things you get if you have a nicely designed house from an energy perspective.

We're hearing people talk more houses that won't take a lot of work. That means smaller, easier to keep comfortable and less expensive. We've found they're coming to us more open to this kind of thing. People are becoming more educated on the desirability of these kinds of homes.

Read more about green home plans and designs.


Topics: Building Green, Going Green, Healthy Homes, Home Design & Plans, Remodeling



Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.

wwwView Gary Wollenhaupt's profile on LinkedIn

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