July 23, 2024


Designing done right

Flexible and Expandable House Plans – How to Achieve Affordable Homeownership

3 min read

For many future homeowners, today’s economic environment can present a significant hurdle when it comes to the cost of home building. Be it a newly wed couple or downsizing baby boomers, the reality of what they need and what they can afford are at odds. Young couples can’t afford to build the size house they will need for their growing family. Retiring empty-nesters are faced with the dilemma of rising construction costs that have outpaced the value of their current homes from which they need to downsize. Even young singles with good jobs and promising careers don’t have the cash for a decent down-payment on a new home and are forced to rent.

Build in Stages

For people who can’t afford the entire home that they will ultimately need, starting out small, building in stages, one phase at a time may be just the right solution to set them on the path to affordable homeownership. This has proven to be quite a popular choice with our firm, especially for many young families. With the expectations of a growing family, starting out small and adding on later as the need arises and the budget allows, not only solves a limited budget problem but also avoids a potential hassle later on of selling and relocating to a larger home. And with the right kind of pre-planned expandable home design, the disruption of future building can be kept to a minimum, avoiding the loss of use and having to seek temporary living quarters.

Expandable house plans start with the basic essential rooms to be built during the first phase of construction. The construction plans provide, in advance, the specific structural details and specifications needed to easily accommodate subsequent additions with the least amount of disruption to daily family activities and limited retrofitting of the existing building. Future framed openings, wall pocket studs and plumbing/HVAC access are all anticipated in the layout and arrangement of the expandable home design. Complete, detailed construction plans are provided for all future additions showing the exact location with respect to the existing first phase, as well as the exterior elevations of what the entire final project will look like.

Expandable and Flexible House Plans

Expandable, build-in-stages house plans aren’t just for young families seeking a starter home. We have seen a growing request at our design firm for future retirement/semi-retirement combo-vacation homes. People planning for the future by building in stages with multi-use expandable home designs are starting out small with either vacation cottages or small rental homes.

One expandable house plan in particular we designed for a client was for a build-in-stages combination vacation and retirement home in a small village where their young daughter just accepted a new job. Noted for its ideal retirement qualities, this mountain and lake region provided a welcomed vacation retreat from their city lives and daily work, as well as a place for their daughter to live until she could afford a down payment on a home of her own. Starting with the garage apartment for the daughter and semi-attached vacation cottage, their property would be maintained and watched until they moved down full-time at a later date.

With expectations of semi-retiring to this home, the construction plans called for a future home office to be built at the connection between the cottage and garage apartment and additional bedrooms in a wing off the other end of the cottage. Once the daughter left, the garage apartment could then serve either as rental property, guest quarters or in-law apartment. Since the cottage house plan was designed as an age-in-place home (a barrier-free design allowing them to live independently as they age) the garage apartment could also serve as care-giver quarters sometime down the road.

This type of expandable, build-in-stages house plan is very flexible and versatile, providing many incremental options as the budget allows and life style situations change, all without sacrificing the simple pleasures that a home can offer.

With a little innovation and reorganization of priorities, young families or downsizing baby boomers will stand a better chance of achieving their goal of economical home construction. Implementing the build-in-stages method offered by expandable house plans can provide a convenient affordable alternative for cost-effective homeownership.

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