Cost to Build a Solar Home in Texas

Summary: A passive solar design home collects and stores and distributes heat in the winter by utilizing windows, walls, and floors.

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Equinox: Passive Solar Design Plan ID Number: DC-398

Architect: D.R. Coleman

Total Sq. Ft.: 2217 Bedrooms: 3 Baths: 2.0
Additional Features: Open & Spacious, Optional Loft, Passive Solar Sun room, Adaptable, Screened Porch, 2-car detached garage (can be attached)

The Equinox home is a best seller, and it was included in the National Tour of Solar Homes soon after it was built. There are patios and porches (screened or covered) on all four sides of this distinctive home. The entire living area (living room, dining area, kitchen and den) is vaulted, and these rooms are filled with an abundance of natural light. If you wish to take advantage of its passive solar design, the front of this house should face south.

The dominant exterior features of this unique one–story home are the rounded window in the dormer above the vaulted breakfast nook, and the long line of clerestory above the library loft. Like all of Ms. Coleman's designs, Equinox was originally designed for a client who wanted an energy–efficient, passive solar home. You can build this house facing in whatever direction suits your needs, but if you're interested in building it as a passive solar home, please read the next paragraph.

Equinox has been on the National Tour of Solar Homes. To maximize its passive solar design, this house should face south. The slab construction is designed to have thermal mass floors for the south side of the house. The concrete mass floors can be covered in stone, tile, brick pavers, or concrete stain for a marble look. The electronically operated windows in the clerestory aid in cooling. The 35 pages of specifications that come with these plans will give your builder precise details on all the passive solar issues pertinent to the construction of this house.





To estimate cost, I'll use my resource #5 , “Building Costs by City & State”, on "Getting Started" using “Quality Class #6 for the most part with a  slab foundation, but upgrading for the roof design and extra number and size of windows (Quality Class #4).



Using this foundation shape on the cost to build calculator for the San Antonio, TX area, I came up with $160,085 for an owner/builder. That’s an approximate cost of $72.20 per sq. ft.

I determined this amount by deducting the General Contractor’s Markup, equipment rental, and allowed only $2,000 for insurance.

You should keep in mind that the cost to build for this example, or any house plan, can vary considerably depending quality of materials selected, and on actual bids for labor and material.

Until you actually start getting bids and entering them into your own spreadsheet (see my spreadsheet page for FREE spreadsheets), it will remain approximate.

Carl Heldmann