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Stylized Text: TheAffordable Expandable Florida Home.

Three houses showing how each one expanded in size


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The Affordable Expandable Florida Home — Three Energy-Efficient Designs

To be truly affordable, a florida home should meet criteria beyond the mortgage payment.

  • First, it should be energy-efficient, because utility bills also come due once a month.
  • Second, it should fit the changing space requirements of the people who live in into, so they can buy what they need today and expand to meet their needs tomorrow.
  • Third, it should fit a small enough "footprint" so that rising land prices don't push costs through the roof.

It's Within Reach

For those who dream of building their own home, many plan books offer disappointment. Are the homes they present energy efficient? Can they be built small and expanded later? Will they fit on a plot with a price that fits the budget?

The Florida Energy Office and the Florida Solar energy Center helped home designers answer those questions in the affirmative. A statewide design competition resulted in three winning designs of truly affordable homes.

Each is designed for maximum energy efficiency. Each can be built with two, three or four bedrooms or can be expanded in phases. And each will fit on a lot no larger than 40-feet wide, minimizing land costs and conserving the native landscape.

These award-winning designs include important energy-efficiency features:

  • Radiant barriers and ridge vents
  • Fans in all living and sleeping areas
  • Air distribution equipment in conditioned space
  • Structural shading of windows.

Use of high-efficiency equipment is recommended. Each home is designed so that some roof area faces south, which makes a solar system the ideal water heating option.

The state of Florida requires that an energy code calculation be done for all new homes. The code is administered by the Department of Community Affairs. The energy performance index (EPI) of each house must be lower than 100 points. By including natural gas for space and water heating and a high-efficiency air conditioner; or by using an electric heat pump for space heating and a solar panel for water heating, the calculated EPI for these homes is less than 60 points.

Before you select a plan, determine the orientation of your lot. Each of these plans have energy efficiency aspects designed for specific orientations. Orienting them in another direction could resulting reduced comfort and higher energy bills.

Your site may offer interesting views or mature trees that would have to be sacrificed for one of these plans. If that's the case, you may want to consult a designer or architect to develop your own home design — one that takes advantage of your lot's natural aspects.

Cypress Breeze (193 kb Adobe Acrobat icon)

Cypress Breeze has an ideal floor plan for Florida comfort, with rooms open to cross ventilation and plenty of porch and balcony space for outdoor enjoyment. the second floor bedrooms even feature private balconies. Solid walls on the east and west block the hot summer sun and assure privacy. the 900-square-foot base house can be built with one bath or bath and a half. The home can be easily expanded by adding dormers and bedrooms to create a third floor, and the plan offers two expansion options: a master suite and study, or two equal-size bedrooms.

This conventional wood frame home is designed to face north, but will also provide energy efficiency if sited to the south.

Solar Essence (148 kb Adobe Acrobat icon)

Enjoy the home of the future today in an energy-efficient home built of steel beams with concrete panel walls, a modern, innovative construction technique. The Solar essence even offers an expanse of south facing roof for solar panels.

An airy, open plan for each floor makes Solar Essence feel larger than the design's original 900 square feet. The south-facing glass wall opens to a large porch on the first floor, and a covered second-floor balcony offers and enjoyable perch for watching the days begin and end. Expansion begins with a second-floor bedroom and can continue with addition of a master suite on the first floor. Plans for a carport offer additional utility.

Solar Essence is designed for west-facing sites, but a mirror image of the plan will suite east-facing lots.

Sandstone Villa (151 kb Adobe Acrobat icon)

Sandstone Villa offers very affordable maintenance and energy costs on any north-facing lot. The concrete block home features a tile roof for long-term, low-maintenance coverage and excellent fire protection.

The 900-square-foot original plan offers living room, dining room, kitchen and a powder room on the first floor, with two bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor. a spacious screened porch, patio and second-floor balcony assure plenty of space for enjoying Florida's many mild days. The second-floor balcony space can be expanded to become a master bedroom suite, and a detached garage apartment makes a perfect guest suite or private space for an older child.