Debra Rucker Coleman, Architect
Floor 1
1,588 sf
Floor 2
1,028 sf
2,616 sf
Daylight Basement
1,305 sf
Unfinished Basement
1,588 sf
Entry Faces
South Glass
Sunny Dreams
The Sunny Dreams is carefully designed to maximize land use on a narrow lot yet still achieve moderate solar gain. Every square foot has been carefully evaluated to meet the wish list without waste. A small front porch welcomes while the large back porch houses lively entertaining. The transition from front to back reveals a surprise around every corner from the built-in family foyer to the open staircase to the diagonal hearth. Every space with its numerous windows possesses its own character of daylight to match the room and activities that take place within.
"So much light inside!!! Enough that we did not feel sun-deprived after a loooong....winter."
 "Yes, we are enjoying the house EVERY SINGLE DAY!  It feels like a vacation home, and that was exactly our intention."
First Floor
The front bedroom that captures the morning light is perfect for a home office or guestroom as well as a bedroom for those who have trouble navigating stairs. Of course the room where the most time will be spent - the living area - has the number one spot for both solar gain and the lovely west view. The adjacent kitchen and dining also take advantage of those aspects yet are designed to feel like individual rooms. The away room with French doors can be private or an open part of the living space.
Second Floor
A master suite with its own private sitting room that opens to the sunny dining and a balcony that overlooks western sunsets is truly a relaxing get-a-way. The other two bedrooms upstairs are full of character frequently seen in older homes with the sloping ceilings. Ample storage and a nook for a stacked washer-dryer are tucked under the eaves.
Daylight Basement
Close to the bottom of the central staircase in the ground floor is the safe room that can also be a root cellar. The basement foyer then opens into a large game room or family room with a cozy, sunny, sitting area. The west side is perfect for a small studio apartment that can have its own outdoor access.
The three-vehicle garage has side-entry overhead doors and two doors into the house - one into the foyer and one into the laundry which makes it convenient to hang out clothes via the small side garage door. Pull-down stairs access a large attic area between the roof trusses. Permanent stairs can be constructed.
Construction Info
Exterior, above grade walls are drawn as 6" to allow for 2x6 studs with exterior insulation, or 6" SIP panels. The roof is designed to be constructed with deep rafters to allow for thick insulation. Thermal mass is primarily in the tile floors in the south-facing rooms. The daylight basement with its ICF walls and tile floors has an abundance of thermal mass that can help keep the upper floors cool in summer with the doors between the levels open. The basement and first floor have 9' ceilings while the second floor has sloped ceilings of various heights.
Modification Ideas
Since these may affect energy performance and structural integrity, they should only be undertaken with professional assistance.
  • For south-sloping land, make a full walk-out basement
  • For a larger first floor bedroom and bath, lengthen the house
  • Construct the walls & roof with SIP's for quicker construction
  • Reverse the house for a sunny brunch on the screened porch
Construction Drawings
For this plan, the following are included with Construction Prints and CAD Files:
  • Schematic Site Plan
  • Daylight Basement Plan
  • Floor Plans including Attached Garage
  • Exterior Elevations
  • Building Section
  • Kitchen Elevations
  • Typical Wall Detail
  • Schematic Electrical Plans
  • Schematic Framing Plans
Comments and Photos
Sunny Dreams is living proof that obstacles of Subdivision Covenants can be overcome in green building.  While sun-inspired design styles are adaptable enough for most architectural guidelines, the minimum size requirements that subdivisions often require can be a challenge, but one that was worth it for Nenad and Biljana in their Sunny Dreams home.
 "Yes, we are enjoying the house EVERY SINGLE DAY!  It feels like a vacation home, and that was exactly our intention."
The home was certified gold by the National Association of Home Builders.

Homeowners may want a smaller home that is less expensive to build and to operate.  They may also value quality of space over quantity of square footage.  In creating a custom home for Nenad and Biljana, early in the process they presented Sun Plans with their values and space requirements.  Sun Plans then to created a right-sized home that would be as small as the subdivision allowed yet include all the spaces and features that they wanted.

In a letter written to their local paper, the home owners stated "After hundreds of e-mails and phone calls over about eight months, architect Debra Coleman from Sun Plans, Inc. provided plans that elated the couple, custom-designed for their lifestyle. Then, they went looking for a builder that has a reputation for meeting green standards. They chose Cook Builders in Crown Point."

The home achieved a Gold Rating by the National Association of Home Builders. It also achieved an Energy Star HERS index rating of 53 which means that the home should use about 53% of the energy that a new home built to code would use. With their conservative life-style and attention to energy use, they are hoping that the actual use comes in lower.

Approximately 25% of their heating needs will be provided by the sun and their cooling savings due to right-placed windows and porches will also be reduced.

To stay within budget, the design underwent one stage of plan revisions  that required some changes both in the design and a few energy features.  Working closely with Cook Builders on details of pricing various levels of insulation and Energy Diagnostics as the Energy Star home energy rater and NAHB Green Verifier, both in Indiana, the homeowners were able to identify which energy features were the most cost-effective to bring the house within their budget.
In their case, the basement has concrete walls with rigid insulation board while the upper floor walls are insulated stud cavities with a thin layer of sprayed foam to seal the walls, then cellulose blown on top.  Exterior rigid insulation wraps the exterior walls.  The rafter system has the same combination of sprayed foam and cellulose.  This attention to more insulation that is better installed along with high quality windows increased construction costs by approximately 5-10%.
"It feels so good to live here and that is priceless."
In describing winter comfort, the home owner says:
"At -20F outside, during the sunny days, inside the house was above 73F with the heat turned off."
When asked what they like best about their sun-inspired home, they state:
"So much light inside!!! Enough that we did not feel sun-deprived after a loooong....winter."- Nenad and Biljana