The Expandable Saltbox House

Ideas for a simple solar house design

Here you see the basic design concept for the house. Start with something simple to build and then add amenities as interest and budget allow.

We used the saltbox shape (24'x 32') since it gives us an upper floor about 1/2 the area of the lower. It also allows a cathedral ceiling in the living room and stair area. The pop-out at the center of the gable end at the 2nd floor is a alcove with a glass roof.

Click HERE for a photo tour of the house.

The basic house was built for $55,000 in 1983. We added a later addition in 1987 (and spent another $50k).

The house sits in the middle of five acres at the top of a small knoll. We cleared a relatively flat area and built the house to the north edge of this clearing so that the house looks out over the yard and gets a clear shot at the low winter sun. The patio serves as a transition between the indoors and outdoors. We put the carport around behind so we don't have to look at cars or garage doors.

The house is laid out to follow the sun. Upstairs are three bedrooms and a second bath. A later addition to the north added a guest suite (to the second floor) with a sleeping loft, its own soak tub bath and a private deck. 

There's also an attached home office in the NE corner of the main level where I do my architectural and website work for countryplans.com.

Here's the house as seen from the southwest.

The house has cedar siding, wood frame windows, and a drywall interior with fir panel doors and wood trim. A concrete recirculation column in the center of the house moves air between the two floors and stores heat from the solar sunroom or the cental wood or propane stove.

Download and print a PDF study plan of the house. If you order the blueprints they include copying and "cut and paste" modification rights allowing you to customize the plans to your needs and make additional sets of blueprints for your project. If you have trouble with the PDF file download the free Acrobat Reader here.

Order the plans for this house in the box below:

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