Debra Rucker Coleman, Architect
Floor 1
1,484 sf
Daylight Basement
1,177 sf
Unfinished Basement
305 sf
Entry Faces
South Glass
Fernwood 2
The home owners had a north approach to their property and desired the healthier detached garage, so the Fernwood 2 was created. The design is simple with numerous exterior porches. This 2 bedroom, 2 bath, small footprint plan has room for additional bedrooms, baths, and living areas in the daylight basements. Homes with two levels of sunny, south windows are some of the most popular sun-inspired home designs.
First Floor
The primary living areas with vaulted ceilings are on the south while bedrooms and baths are on the north. The dining has western views and opens to a screened porch. The living room has eastern views and a large southwest deck. The cozy built-in breakfast nook has panoramic views to the south. The centrally located kitchen makes bringing in groceries as easy as possible for sunny kitchens that are by necessity further from the garage.
The master bedroom will catch a sunrise and the study or bedroom 2, the sunset. The baths have two doors to allow for both public and private spaces and the laundry is conveniently accessed from both. Most spaces are wheelchair accessible (see 5' circle turning radiuses.) Bedroom 2 with lower light levels is well-suited for computer work.
Daylight Basement
The daylight basement with 9' ceilings can have up to 3 more bedrooms, a recreation area, and a walkout patio to the east. It is easily accessed from the center of the home. The sun will stream down the stairs in winter. The root storage and mechanical are on the cool, bermed north and west ends.
A two-vehicle detached garage has several options for location depending upon the approaches of your drives and slope of your land. Placement to the west of the house will work best for northeast approaches and setting the garage to the north will work best for northwest to southwest approaches.
Construction Info
The Fernwood 2 is designed to be constructed with a trussed roof, 6" exterior walls, and an ICF (insulated concrete form) foundation. The first floor has 8' ceilings with the south rooms vaulted to the center. The north rooms could be vaulted too, but the flat ceiling allows for some attic storage above. Thermal mass walls around the kitchen temper the strong winter heat gain if finished in tile, stone, or stucco, and the tile covered south floors will also help moderate temperatures. The exterior is designed for horizontal cement board siding, stone veneer foundation, and a metal roof make the Fernwood 2 resistant to exterior fires. The exterior surfaces are the easy to change.
Modification Ideas
Since these ideas may affect energy performance and structural integrity, they should only be undertaken with professional assistance.
  • Place the drive on the west for a west-facing house
  • Make an east-facing house by reversing the plan OR make the east door into the living area the front door. The north porch then becomes the back or side porch
  • Reverse the kitchen and dining for a strong dining to living connection
Construction Drawings
For this plan, the following are included with Construction Prints and CAD Files:
  • Schematic Site Plan
  • Daylight Basement Plan
  • Floor Plan
  • Exterior Elevations
  • Building Section
  • Kitchen Elevations
  • Typical Wall Detail
  • Schematic Electrical Plans
  • Schematic Framing Plans
  • Garage Plans
Comments and Photos
Brandy and Rod shared some lovely photos of their home. They said sorry about the dogs, but the majority of Sun Plans clients are pet owners and some are like family members so we are accustomed to designing for them as well.  There are certainly acceptable in photos! Brandy shared:

"The photos show the sun shining in and how bright the downstairs bedrooms are even though they are in a basement.

"One of the photos shows the inlay that we put down in the foyer. Since the house faces due North, we had them orient the arrows to point in the directions of a compass with respect to the front of the house.

"With all of these efficiency items, in addition to the passive solar, our home was certified as a Gold Level Green Home by the National Association of Home Builders.

  • All lighting was LED with the majority recessed.  (Sun Plans: Recessed is acceptable when the attic has sprayed foam insulation on the roof deck rather than on the ceiling below.)
  • We did closed cell spray foam insulation in the attic which we floored for temperature controlled storage.
  • We did ICF on both stories. (Sun Plans: In colder climates, ICF walls may not have high enough R-values.)
  • Additionally, we did geothermal heating and cooling." (Sun Plans: Often less complex and expensive systems are recommended.)

None of the above strategies are specifically required by the program, but when added together, they do make for an energy efficient home. Other than the mostly LED lighting which is a Sun Plans recommendation, these types of insulation, wall construction and heating/cooling may or may not be recommended for either another Sun Plan or another climate.

Like many home owners that start with a pre-designed house plan, once Brandy and family started building, they changed many little things to personalize the home. Often (but not always, so you need to check with the building inspector) field changes are allowed during construction rather than having Sun Plans make the drawings changes. Even with the latter, once the framing starts going up, it is common for minor changes to be made.
The builder was A Better House, Inc. of Nashville, TN who constructs ICF homes. They coordinated the energy detailing to obtain the Gold Rating. The house scored 45 on the HERS (home energy rating scale) which means that it uses just 45 percent of the energy of a new home built to code. Although some Sun Plans clients have even higher energy priorities especially if they add PV and go for net zero energy, 45 is about average for many.