How would you build a sustainable, affordable house?

As many of you know, the smilingdad family sees a big opportunity for sustainable, affordable homes. People are priced out of homes, due to large price increases for materials, labor, financing and the value of existing homes increasing. Additionally, these homes are not built in a sustainable way, re-using existing resources, being able to be recycled, lowering energy costs, and sourced locally. Many release volatile organic compounds, impacting health.

When you build homes and apartments that last decades, that’s a problem.

If you look at modern roof lines, they are not built facing the roof towards the equator, to maximize solar potential. There are a lot of unnecessary peaks and valleys to make the house pleasant to see.

I had the opportunity to design a sustainable house recently. These are some of the elements I listed for a 2200 to 2400 sq. ft house (about 223 square meters). The cost was quoted around $500,000, which is high and prices out a majority of the population. Surely, with our modern technology, we can do better to design sustainable, affordable, and pleasant looking houses. Why aren’t we? Below, I listed our higher listed needs with 4 points, and optional items as 1’s.

Sustainable House Wish list

Exterior / Overall (35)

Balcony (4)

Wraparound porch for E and S facing windows (4)

More windows on North and West side (4)

Lowest cost for highest points (4)

Roof at 34 to 35° facing south (2) – this will change based on your latitude from the equator.

Roof built to maximize solar (2)

Stainless steel Metal roof (2) – is it feasible and what is best for solar?

Maybe Euroshield instead of Architectural shingles to reduce cost – Euroshield has rubber tiles that recycle end of use car tires into a hail resistant roof that lasts a long time.

Standing seam, stone of something else?

Consistent slope without valleys or peaks (2)

Minimize construction waste (2)

High quality (2)

Lighter color Stucco (2)

Lighter color roof (2)

Fast speed to market (1)

Walk out basement (1) – I crossed this off, as it was purely an ask and the cost was $60,000.

Carport (1) – optional, as carports and porches are a good place for solar panels.

Bushes, small trees to shade house wo shading rooftop solar (1) – west side?

Solar window film for 2nd story windows using Ceramic Dual Reflective 45 (1)

Zero scape parts of the yard (1)

Plant native TX wildflowers and shrubs (1)

Capture rain water with rain barrels (1)

Zoysia grass (1)

Internals (35)

Fully electric (4)

Net zero electric use per year (4)

Sustainable materials (4)

Well insulated (2)

Sheep wool or denim insulation (2)

Straight ducts and pipes (2) electric panel (2)

Heat pump water heater (2)

Heat pump air furnace with noise insulation (2)

LED’s (2)

Cat 6a wired (1)

House built for Vehicle 2 Home (1)

Home built for home storage batteries (1)

Two electric vehicle chargers (1)

No wifi dead spots (1)

Natural light lamps (1)

Rooms (13)

2394 to 2483 sq ft (4)

3 bathrooms (4)

Media room (2)

Game room (2)

Big white wall in living room for projector (1)

Everything has a cost and benefit. What would you remove, what would you modify, what would you add? Share your thoughts with us.

Warmest regards,


Published by smilingdad

My story is one of tragedy and redemption. We've made many mistakes along the way regarding our money. Our goal here is to show you how to take care of your money life long, and as much as we can, help the Earth along the way. I call it sustainable personal finance and ethical capitalism. Currently, I am a part time writer for Cleantechnica and part-time licensed financial professional, along with being a full-time dad.

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