The International Builders’ Show brought throngs of viewers through the two most sustainable show homes on display: the VISION and ReVISiON show homes. Built in an infill neighborhood outside Orlando, the homes show practical application of green technologies and products.
Veteran builders Jon Pleveich and Kim Foy of Southern Traditions Development built both houses.
Ed Binkley of ed binkley design was brought in to make the most of the challenging lot for the VISION house. “In any design project, you need to identify the market, decide who the house is for, and then consider budget,” he explains. He ultimately settled on what he terms an Urban Farmhouse style.
As important to Binkley, though, was to design a house that reinvents what is expected of a long, narrow lot. “A lot of homes are predetermined. You can tell what will happen in a 20’ wide house when you walk in the front door,” he says. “You expect to see walls.”
Binkley treated the space like a loft with multifunction spaces rather than breaking the spaces into discrete rooms. “I wanted the house to ‘explode’ so you could see through it,” he says. “One way you can make a house feel larger is if you can see the outdoors from certain vantage points.” The strategic placement of windows brings daylight into the house. “It’s follow the light syndrome,” he adds. “People will follow the light into and through the house.”
The kitchen is the center of the space, with living spaces radiating from it, including to outdoor entertaining areas that visually expand the 3,000-square-foot house.
Binkley’s concept of a “kit of parts” for the house’s design is what gives it flexibility. “I looked at it like a shell that we could do anything we wanted to. You could get rid of every interior wall and use folding doors or rolling walls and screens to divide the space—you could personalize it for how you live.”
The green technologies used in this house include ICF block, a durable metal roof and fiber cement siding, spray foam insulation, solar hot water, high-performance windows, and storm shutters. The interior boasts reclaimed furniture and flooring, no-VOC finishes, LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, and passive ventilation. The house also earned the highest possible rating from the Florida Water Star program for water conservation both inside and outside the house.
You can read all the articles on this house and view photos and renderings here.
The ReVISION house was a forlorn single-story ranch-style house, which was transformed by the builders with the help of Ray Rocha of Catalyst Design. You’ve seen this house: tired façade, inefficient kitchen, dirty-grouted bathrooms, chopped-up floor plan, laundry in the garage. The home’s initial HERS rating was 128, with the goal is to get it to under 50.
“We wanted to take a ranch style home and beautify it—give it a new style for today’s buyers,” Pleveich says. “We also wanted to show what you can do without adding a lot of square footage.”
Rocha took one look at what he had to work with and went in another direction.
“With the 4:12 roof pitch, overhangs, and lateral appearance of the windows and shallow height of the house, designing traditional would be overbuilding and changing the character of the house,” Rocha explains. He redesigned the one-story form into an updated Napa style.
Rocha believes that street appeal is key to any remodel. “One of the most important aspects was the entry and the fireplace portion of the front elevation,” he says. “Creating a house that could be built today without changing the character of the existing house enabled us to maintain much of the exterior.” The team spec’d stone veneer and an EIFS system and then topped the house with a cool roof product by Boral-Monier LifeTile.
The original 1,800-square-foot house had three bedrooms and one and half baths. The new design gives it four bedrooms and three and a half baths at 2,400 square feet.
“In the 1950s, when this house was built, all the bedrooms were ganged together,” points out Foy. “With the new plan, the master is on the opposite side of the house and has its own master bath.”
Rocha designed an addition to accommodate the new larger master suite and also stole space from an oddly located den. “It was weird,” Foy says. “The house had two family rooms right next to each other. It had originally had a detached garage and the space resulted when they attached that garage to the house.”
Along with the new master suite and updating the kitchen and existing bathrooms, Rocha addressed a number of other design flaws, including creating a proper entry and foyer, bring the laundry room in from its place in the garage, adding a powder room, and creating an 11’ by 20’ covered outdoor living space that has the potential to be screened.
“We maintained the general flow of the house while improving those areas,” Rocha says. “And the interesting part is that we were able to make the existing parlor a space that could flex as a formal dining room or simply remain a parlor.” The team included a family dining room off the kitchen, which they think is more likely to be used by busy home owners than a formal dining room.
Rocha raised the ceiling height to 9’4” in the new addition, which includes the kitchen, grand room, and master bedroom. “We didn’t want too much of a discrepancy with the 8’ ceilings in the rest of the house,” Rocha explains. “We only cut out the center rear of the house to make it taller.”
All told, the team added only about 600 square feet of space (approximately 125 lineal feet of foundation) but the livability of the house is renewed and imminently more usable. Rocha kept the unique aspects of the house intact. “We tried to keep the costs down and also keep the architectural character of the house,” Rocha says. “We kept the corner windows in the bedrooms and living room and maintained the chimney placement and location and the way the windows flank it.”
Most important to the builders, though, is that the house inspire other people interested in remodeling. “We want people to know that you don’t have to get crazy,” Pleveich says. “You can take an older house that needs love; give it love, and make it energy efficient. People should never shy away from doing this kind of project.”
Click here for more articles, photos, and renderings of this show home, click here.