An Affordable House in St. Joseph County

These studies of affordable house designs were the result of the first in a five-year contract between the University of Notre Dame and Habitat for Humanity to strengthen the existing portfolio of homes for families with demonstrated need in St. Joseph County, Indiana. Individual designs by three students were strategically merged into one group design and translated into a full set of construction documents. In addition to affordability, the primary motivations for both the individual and group schemes included the relationship of the proposed house with its local context, the incorporation of more sustainable and durable building materials, and the efficient use of indoor and outdoor space. The execution of these goals would result in lower maintenance costs, improved appreciation of the house, and reduced identifiability of Habitat homes to help remove the associated stigma for the families who occupy them. One essential feature that works toward all of these goals in both designs is the porch which is raised above the level of the street, unlike the existing habitat homes which sit at grade. Outdoor space adds square footage to the house with much lower construction costs, and the elevation offers a sense of permanence to the house and increased privacy to its occupants. In both designs, a zero-step entrance is maintained at the side of the house. The added costs of these changes are offset in the individual design by a twenty percent decrease in square footage from an existing Habitat model. In the group design, they are offset by building up to a half story rather than down to a full basement, which helps to reduce expense and the unsustainable use of concrete in construction. In the Fall of 2021, one of the three group design proposals will be built by Habitat for Humanity and the participating students.

Using Format