PDP Community Series – Blog 17 – Model Homes

Model Home Concept

There are six groups of buildings or building areas of buildings and each will serve a different function and showpiece. The overriding concept for the project is sustainability/self-sufficiency and showing what our options are until 2050. Building 4 will show what living options are for us in 2030 and 2050. Of course this would be in conjecture and in most cases guesses because of all the options that could happen in leading up to those periods of time. How soon the world gets started on what is needed to be done about climate change, inequality, biodiversity, improving soils, etc. affects each option. This will be discussed later in detail.

The intent of the project and model homes is to act as an Environmental Center to promote what must be done to prevent a period of disturbance or chaos for ourselves. This chaos could last a long time and be a period of devastation that has never been seen before. We are using the same patterns of living that brought down previous societies. The main determinant leading to this chaos is the rich getting richer and creating ever larger gaps of inequality between the rich and poor. We have been using the resources of the earth and these resources could disappear by 2100 or sooner. Jeremy Rifkin in his book The Green New Deal – Why The Fossil Fuel Civilization Will Collapse by 2028, and The Bold Economic Plan to Save Life On Earth is providing one pathway for the world to decarbonize. One review by Gordon Gill, Architect states:

The Green New Deal is impressive in its ability to connect the dots of environmental, political, social and geographical issues that define our sustainable future. Rifkin has laid out a vast Green New Deal Plan that is radical and defensible for a historic twenty year retrofit of the nation’s millions of buildings to reduce global warming emissions, taking us into the green century.”

This may solve some of our main problems of sustainability but there are many more to work on in regards to biodiversity, soil remediation, inequality, etc. This is the beginning of a long road for survival. Some of our main worries is our financial system and the perpetuation of the greedy nature in many of us. Technology alone cannot solve this.

I will list the main buildings in the model homes area and then each one will be discussed in detail to show what they will be used for to create an Environmental Center that will showcase what needs to be done and ways to make it happen. Many ideas are also mentioned in other chapters of this book and they will compliment what will be in the model home complex. The ideas presented are just suggestions at this time and may be changed to accommodate better ones to fit specific situations.

Building A and Reception Area:

Building A is a model home for one of the triplex plans and will be fully furnished. Built in seating, storage areas, Murphy beds, pull down tables will be used as much as possible. The kitchen is compact and easily removable (this includes kitchen cabinets if necessary). Kitchens and cabinets are reusable in other homes. The carport will be converted to a reception area for visitors. Programs will be passed out explaining what is being presented in the model home area. The three landscape areas will show various uses as examples of various uses in each landscaped area. A wind turbine will be used to power the house keeping it off of the grid.

Building B – Model Home for Student Housing or other Uses:

There are several building designs that can be selected for this building and they are shown in the appendix. The main consideration is to select a building most applicable for its use, since all designs presented could be used for student housing, homeless housing, senior living, a home for single women (or men) that are in financial difficulties, or other uses. The model will be furnished and will have some of the design considerations shown in building A. Power for this building will be solar. Next to this building will be a vertical farming greenhouse which also would have a solar installation. There will be another greenhouse typical of all the four greenhouses as shown on the master plan. The land next to the model home will be an agriculture testing garden demonstrating regenerative farming practices. Parking will be available next to buildings 1 and B. The rooms in the model will be used for staff offices and spaces for closing sales.

Building 1: Duplex using Triplex design.

This building may or may not have a carport. The single building on the right will only have a bathroom with the rest of the area used to show building materials, various fixtures and other wall sections. This will allow any proposed homeowners a means to see the pros and cons of what to select. As noted in the book there will be many different types of walls to be used in the PDP. Each wall section will have a sustainable rating. The left side of the building will show the area converted into a single family building. There will also be three ares for landscaping or other uses. These rooms will not be furnished. The building will also show how the building can be converted back into a duplex.

Buildings 2,3 and 4 are in a duplex with two add-ons. These add-ons can be used for bedrooms or other uses. There are larger landscaped areas adjacent to the buildings. Canopy trees will only be used in areas where they would not interfere with any area that could be for a solar installation. Each building in the PDP will allow for using solar, wind turbines or other renewable systems even if they are not on the building at first. The homeowners can have the option of being on the grid or not. Information will be available to determine cost benefits on any material or types of energy use. This will also show what may happen if you are on the grid and prices have to be raised in the future. Additional information about add-on units is shown in the appendix. Most suggestions made will be to make a change more sustainable or self-sufficient now or in the future.

Building 2: Deniers, Believers or Skeptics of Climate Change Display and Discussion Areas

Literature and books will be available showing various opinions. Conversation groups of various sizes will be formed between staff and persons on all sides. Most discussions will be recorded to be used for teaching manuals. Waste, inequality, biodiversity, soil remediation, decreasing, etc. are some of the topics for discussion.

Building 3: Computer Games About the Future – Systems Thinking

Discussions about the future will be the discussions in this building. It will feature a special computer game developed by experts on this topic along with computer specialists on game development. Special funding requests will be made to foundations. The program will be marketed with other schools to acquaint students about what could happen in the future. Deniers, believers and skeptics of environmental studies will be represented in the computer program. Literature for purchase and/or free distribution will be available also. The organization for the education part of the PDP will be under a nonprofit structure so it can be available for outside funding.. The computer program will utilize systems thinking applications where positive and negative multiple feedbacks will be utilized to show various options.

Building 4: Mobilizing and Presenting Other Options to Spread the Word.

What is proposed for this building is two-fold. One is a review of all the building plans including the duplex with buildings 2,3 and 4. The second is a review with staff members and visitors options that are available to further promote how to motivate people about what is happening to us regarding climate change and other environmental problems. The highlight is to join established organizations or begin a new one that would be active locally. In conjunction with these suggestions , there will be a special program for working with school children and college students which would include going to the schools, speaking, and providing literature/ brochures.

Sales Concepts:

Additional information is in the revised edition of Toward Self-Sufficiency which explains the value of using the model homes as a demonstration area to pre sell the homes in the project.  Since the size of the lot(s) available for purchase will vary from the picture of the land plan shown above there will be different layouts and costs for each design.  To simplify the estimating of the costs for the model home area there will be a basic cost based on a flat lot and no extra needs other than what is shown in the present design.  The extra costs will be shown in a separate add-on list.  Some of the management and overhead expenses will also be included as expenses. 

The intent of the original sales program is to sell out the project from the model homes that are on display.  Since the homes have so many options available this seems to be the only way to sell the homes.  Some of the options include the following:

  1. Whether the triplex is purchased by one person and it is used as a triplex, duplex or single family.  For example, the owner could keep one unit (separate unit) and rent the others.  The owner, in the above example, could use one or two units for family members.  The remaining duplex could be changed into a single family unit for the owner with the separate unit rented out or used by a family member.
  2. Each unit in  triplex or duplex can be changed by adding additional space.
  3. The owner can build the attached units and build the separate unit at a later date.
  4. The separate unit can only have a bathroom with the remaining space used for a business, community use (non-profit) or just an open space.  A community use could be a space for teaching or training.  If there is a community use on the property the other building(s) could be rental units owned by the PDP or an owner.
  5. Some of the triplexes can be used for a business use.  The type of business use would be from a list provided by the PDP and also approved by the governing body where the project is located.  The business could also be one owned by the PDP but managed by the separate owner of the individual triplex.  Any exceptions must be approved by the PDP and the governing body.
  6. The triplex can have 3 different owners and this lot could be a condominium.  This type of ownership could be used throughout the project.  Another alternative would be the forming  of a cooperative among a group of lots.
  7. This approach could also be applied to the duplexes or student housing buildings.  The main intent is to allow a diverse group of people living in the PDP.  The first project  will be more selective in choosing who will stay in the community because of the social and cultural dynamics that will be important to establish to make it function properly (sharing and collaboration).
  8. The teaching and learning opportunities  will be an important part of the sales agenda.
  9. There is the option of changing ownership and rental conditions with each of the units in order for each triplex or duplex to change ownership when changing from triplex to duplex and to single family. (or reverse)  This is due to having the ability to remove kitchens, cabinets, counters, etc.
  10. In the preliminary stages of designing the home there should be simple ways of having ductwork., electrical, heating and air conditioning  easy to get too so it can be changed and updated.
  11. The options of the add-ons should be determined when buying the home in order that utility connections and other needs are designed initially so there will be no need to make changes in the part of the house that is built initially.
  12. In some of the units there will be an allocation available where people can use their own labor to finish out the house.  This would include tradesmen buying the house and applying their own trade, painting, special art work, labor, etc. This can also include sharing of trades among a group of members.  Students studying some of the construction trades could be used as apprentices in order for the students to get work credits.

The sales for the houses in the PDP will be made from the model home complex and from one model home located on single lots within the urban area. Initially there will be some advertising in newspapers, TV and radio but this should just be a short period until word of mouth advertising takes over. Different percentages of lot or unit sales will be used for different amenities such as the swimming pool, park, restaurants, etc, to be constructed. Each owner will have an option to use a monthly fee charge for an amenity like the swimming pool, but private enterprise (or PDP non profit) will provide banks, restaurants, child care, beauty shops, etc.

The costs of the educational programs and student housing will have to be determined by the PDP non profit.

The next step in constructing of the first PDP is to determine what funding opportunities are available and the costs involved in getting started. This information will be provided in future blogs.

– George Hunt

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.