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Steel Magnolia: Anna & Leon

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Sun room breezeway. Expandable second floor. 4+ BR. 1 story w/ loft. 3258 sf
 
The Steel Magnolia is a perfect example of how Sun Plans caters to its custom design clients to create a house that fits all of their wishes. The Steel Magnolia is larger than than average passive solar homes, but it still retains the elements of passive solar that keeps the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter - even more so  due to tile (over concrete slab) floors and insulated concrete walls.
 
Anna's first concern when she contacted us about designing a custom home for them was whether the larger than average house size was something we would consider. Elsewhere on our web site we had stated our preference for designing smaller homes.  Anna understood this, but said that after living in a 1400 s.f. home her entire adult life while raising several kids, she was ready for some space and wanted enough for the adult children to be comfortable when they came home to visit.   Plus her mother-in-law was likely to be living with them. 
 
With their land just 50 miles inland from the Gulf Coast, they wanted a home where they could confidently stay during hurricanes and the associated tornadoes.  "Passive survivability" became a goal.  If they lost power for extended periods of time, they wanted to remain safely and comfortably in their home without electricity and therefore heat and air conditioning. But they also wanted a home with a traditional exterior which to them was defined with brick and a large front porch. The connecting sun room/breezeway we recommended to keep the garage detached, create a cool room in summer with the windows open, and a warm room in winter with the windows closed. Anna originally wanted a two story home in addition to the rooms on the first floor, but both Leon and Sun Plans talked her out of it for cost control and instead designed in an optional second floor that could be finished out later. 
 
Their builder friend John Morgan was proficient with both ICF (insulated concrete forms) and structural steel.  He was great at improvising.  And when Anna saw the optional second floor, walk-in attic, she worked out some on-site field changes with John.  Before you knew it they had added front and back dormers, a central two story elegant stair cases, and had "found" the money to finish off the second floor. They had already planned on spraying foam to the roof deck instead of placing blown insulation on the ceiling so the attic volume was already there.  This is not the first time that we've seen client spend a little extra once they see their dream home unfold before their eyes.  Last we heard right after we visited and took these photos, the house had comfortably held a great crawfish boil with music supplied by the finish carpenters who also were also full of ideas. They almost got carried away in the sun room breezeway with pine and cypress finishes. The space has since evolved into a display area for Leon's fishing and hunting trophies.