The Funke Affordable House

2016 National DiscoverDesign Competition: Design an affordable housing prototype

Define the Problem

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With rising prices in the housing market, and less and less affordable housing being designed and created within the states; new affordable homes need to be designed and created for people looking to buy homes within actually feasible ranges. Aimed towards middle class families, most people within St. Charles have families of four that will all live under the same roof with an average household income of $80,000. Since many homeowners also may not like specific designs or details, the best option for affordable houses will be to make it unique enough that it'll still hold the interest of buyers, yet not so unique that people looking at the home may dislike it for a reason having to do with a particular style of house.

Collect Info

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Before I went into the process of brainstorming any ideas, I thought it would be best to first do some research on what actually qualifies an “affordable home.” From my research I found some aspects of different affordable homes that would provide as good base ideas that I could build on for the creation of my own house. The websites listed below were each used in some part of the research and creation of my future design; also included, the plot of land which I chose for my house which I decided was well balanced after taking a look at other properties and options in the area. Also a large part of my research was one of the most influential materials that I used in my house. I chose to go with a Cognac Cherry Flooring due to the eco friendly aspect and relatively cheap quote that I got for 1200 sq. ft of flooring. Looking to be both eco friendly and save my client some money in the development of the house, I thought that it was a good option to go with. From this website I grabbed information that would help me in designing the future use of the home. Taking into consideration the fact that this house will be mainly used by a family for many years to come, parents who live there will eventually come to the point where their kids are no longer living with them, and so the house will have to serve a purpose continuing into retirement and old age. A general idea of what’s out there, this website helped me in looking at similar designs that are in my area, and those that were widely liked would provide me with suggestions or better ideas as to what my target client would like in their house. Using this website, I took some inspiration from the elements of the eco friendly and sustainable house. Only focusing on what the house has (e.g. the natural use of materials or purpose that each eco friendly aspect adds), I derived some additional ideas and broadened the possibilities in my house to make it as environmentally friendly and affordable as possible. These houses, with each of their designs are great examples of how real architects have utilized sustainable methods to create houses that are pretty affordable yet great to live in. . From the captions, I took how each house utilizes a particular method of construction or purpose to its best value, and then used it to further improve my own house with some other ideas. Plot of Land Final Choice : Google Maps Location :,+St+Charles,+IL+60174/@41.9301277,-88.3398699,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x880f1d392404bf1f:0x2f04d653081fb0bb!8m2!3d41.9301277!4d-88.3376812

Brainstorm Ideas

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My initial sketches for affordable houses under 1230 square feet involved floors that each had 640 sq. ft of living space, with nearly all of the bedrooms and private spaces upstairs. Downstairs I typically had a small front entryway with the stairs, that then separated into the living room and kitchen/dining room. The overall idea was to maintain the individuality of each room while also attempting to make it an open concept. These first steps proved to be useful, as later I was able to find a better way to shift and design my future rooms. My second group of ideas proved to be a few impractical yet basic ranch house designs. In my bubble plans, the original drawings were very flawed because of the transition that occurred between the quiet, entertainment, and then practical areas that I had initially drawn up. Each section had a very distinct part away from each other in the house, and hallways would often go up to exterior walls. A large lack of space, I later improved upon this in my actual solutions.

Develop Solutions

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The solution which I developed after my initial ideas proved to be the best combination out of all my previous ideas. After recognizing the problem which I held within the use and transition of my space, I went about combining both the functionality and floor use of my two floor designs along with the ranch style that I’d had before. What ended up as my final design except for a few modifications that I made throughout the entire design process. Instead of trying to initially perfect every aspect and problem within my house, I first came up with how it is that I would fit everything into the space which would be available to me. As I started out, I focused on making the functionality of the house most important above all, with the entry leading into the great room on the right, and an office for the house to the left right by a bathroom. Leading from the entry and partially into the great room, I put a kitchen with plenty of cabinetry and built in shelves next to a connected twenty by twenty foot garage meant for two cars. In between the kitchen and great room I also put a hallway, which would connect to the master bedroom and en suite bathroom and the other bed and bath. The design, which had lots of open windows and a decent amount of closet space, is what led me to my final design, where I changed a few aspects.

Final Design

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The final design of my affordable house came after I made a few changes to the design which I had initially come up with in one of my developed solutions. In between days and looking at the wasted hallway space that led to the backdoor, I changed the layout and added a closet to improve the overall functionality and use of the space. Having switched the placement of the master and regular bedrooms, I also changed the entrance to the bathroom that was connected to the regular bedroom and made it an en suite. From there, I added a closet and went about adding another hallway access to the second bathroom while also expanding the garage by a slight bit to allow for more movement space with two parked cars. The biggest changes that occurred however were the movement of the porch door from the back of the house to the great room, and the addition of a stairwell at the very front of the house which would lead to an unfinished basement with the water heater, washing machine, and other utilities that previously had no proper place. These changes were made in the essence of better utilizing the space within the house better, and later in the ownership of the house, anybody could finish the basement to acquire more space and add some additional value. As this would also be the final design of my house, I also came up with ideas that could be incorporated which would also help make the house more affordable and Eco friendly after it had already been bought. A few of the additional improvements that I added to my design were solar panels and a water retention system that reduce the cost of monthly utilities. Being able to reuse rainwater for actions such as landscaping, the flushing of the toilets, water that falls during showers, etc. The owner of the house wouldn’t have to pay for the expenses of that water, and would stay right in their own pocket. The addition of solar panels holds the same idea, with the overall addition of being able to sell any additional energy back to the electric company. These additions, along with the changes which I made through my designs, all contributed to the best functionality of the house, and with many expenses being reduced or eliminated, makes the house much more affordable per month than others of its class.