Debra Rucker Coleman, Architect
Floor 1
1,999 sf
Entry Faces
South Glass
Sunset Bungalow
The Sunset Bungalow can blend in with a Craftsman neighborhood with narrow lots or the middle of the woods in the country. Its bay window, front porch, and side deck allow for sunset views. This three bedroom, two bath home will be easy to build and it is also wheelchair accessible for the later or injured years. The front is designed to face west (or east if reversed) leaving the side of the house for south passive solar windows. Home Power featured this design in its magazine.
First Floor
The open kitchen, dining, and great room allow the cook to take part in conversation and sunset viewing. The large pantry will hold any mess and is just a few steps away from the outside doors when you bring in groceries. The hall to the back is full of shelves, desk/mail nook and bright sky tubes above. The master suite is private and its bath is full of south and east light. The large closets connect right to the laundry room. The laundry in back opens to the garden and outdoor clothes drying. Bedroom 2 with its suggested fold out bed will make a great guest room or study as well as a child's bedroom. The safe room (or wine cellar) as well as mechanical closet are conveniently located in the middle of the house. The sunroom allows you to view the sunrise and sunset most of the year. Its location is also convenient for a breakfast room and it buffers the kitchen from direct sun, yet allows for sunny views outside through the pass-through counter top.
Carport or Garage
The house includes a 2 vehicle carport which doubles as a covered workshop. This is a healthier alternative than an enclosed garage, yet garage doors could be added. The shop space could also be turned into a third garage space if needed. The pull down attic stairs are in the middle of the carport between the cars or you can construct a narrow set of permanent stairs which would arrive at the highest point in the attic.
Construction Info
The dining, great room, and kitchen all have vaulted ceilings. The other rooms could too instead of the 8' ceilings. The entire roof is designed to be constructed with trusses. There are several sky tubes throughout to bring light into the middle of the house. The Sunset Bungalow with its long south wall allows for an abundance of solar gain in winter, yet the overhang will keep out the direct sun in summer. It would be good for all climate types. The slab on grade construction covered with tile floors is the most economical way to add thermal mass to the house which helps control interior temperatures and comfort. Since the sunroom is not tucked within the main house, its temperatures will swing a little more in the seasonal extremes, but the glass on east and west will allow for great views year-round and cross ventilation in summer just like a screened porch.
Modification Ideas
Since these ideas may affect energy performance and structural integrity, they should only be undertaken with professional assistance.
  • Raise the exterior walls to 9 or 10 feet and adjust the overhang and south glass too
  • Add a bedroom where the shop is now
Construction Drawings
For this plan, the following are included with Construction Prints and CAD Files:
  • Schematic Site Plan
  • Slab On Grade Foundation Plan
  • Floor Plan
  • Exterior Elevations
  • Building Section
  • Typical Wall Detail
  • Kitchen Elevations
  • Schematic Electrical Plan
  • Roof Framing Plan
Comments and Photos
According to the Home Power magazine, "The Sunset Bungalow can make its home in a traditional neighborhood with narrow lots or in the middle of the woods. Several sun tubes (aka tubular skylights) throughout bring light into the middle of the house. The long south wall allows for an abundance of solar gain in winter, yet the overhang will keep out the direct sun in summer. The slab-on-grade construction, resulting in a concrete floor that can be covered with tile, offers an economical way to add thermal mass to the structure. Since the sun room is not tucked within the main house, its temperatures will swing a little more in the seasonal extremes but the glass on the east and west will allow for great views year-round and cross-ventilation in summer, just like a screened porch."

Mark Bighley, Bighley Construction, chose the Sunset Bungalow (in reverse) to build as a spec home then sent us the lovely photos showing casing their attention to detail. See the first group of photos shown. They have built several Sun Plans homes.
The small, custom designed windows and other colorful craftsman touches by Rachael Bighley illustrate that this builder also goes above and beyond the minimum in the delightful finishing details. They included a sun railing on the front porch.

This home saves energy by requiring less artificial light during the day and less heating and air conditioning all year long. Forty percent of the Sunset Bungalow's heat is estimated to be supplied by the sun  for moderate climates. This home was ENERGY STAR certified by a H.E.R.S.(home energy rated services) Rater. 
Features by Sun Plans and Mark Bighley Construction. These were appropriate for their climate at the time the home was built. Different recommendations may apply for various locations and with today's building codes.
• 10 percent glass on the long, south wall
• Bright sky tubes that lighten interior spaces
• Selective north, east, and west windows to add balanced light and increase passive cooling
• Below-slab insulation underneath concrete slab on grade construction
• Colored, polished concrete floors to absorb sun's heat
• Glass in South windows .59 SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) - using 59% of available sun's heat
• Glass in North, East, West windows .33 SHGC (higher reflectivity keeps out unwanted sun)
• Sprayed foam insulation in ceiling and walls
• Blower door tested low air infiltration
• Energy Recovery Ventilator
• 3 ton 14 SEER Air conditioner
• 94 AFUE fuel-fired air distribution
• Programmable Thermostat
• Energy Star appliances, lights, fans
• Pre-plumbed for active solar

While saving energy was the goal, this home became "green" in other ways as well:
• Carport instead of garage to minimize dangerous air pollutants from vehicles, paint, or gasoline
• No VOCs: paints, sealants and solvents that contained no volatile organic compounds
• Metal roof designed to collect rainwater for use
• Vegetation cleared from the land was recycled for use in the final landscaping
• Ground cover, native grasses and flower seeds minimized the need for irrigation

Mark and Rachel had a hard time parting with the home. It sold just 2 weeks after being placed on the market. The home that they constructed is shown in the first group of photos with the golden colored exterior.
The other Sunset Bungalow pictured is a home built by James and Paula.  It had a shingle roof and solar panels along with many wood beams inside. They allowed Sun Plans to visit and take photos. James is a builder with above average attention to detail as seen in the craftsman woodwork. They used a type of concrete block for the exterior walls and added solar panels. The home has a large below grade cistern as well so that they can truly live unconnected.  The western sunset views are phenominal!

The sunroom was designed to be isolated from the main house, but Paula wrote: "For now, we've made the decision to not install the window between the kitchen and the sun room. We've not felt much difference at all in great room and sun room temps. Jim will trim it out so we can put the window in later, if need be. We just really like the openness. It is a beautiful design and there aren't enough words to say how happy we are with it. Everyone just loves it."

Later she said: "I just wanted to update you on the solar aspects of the house. I know you were a little concerned about the overheating in the fall. As you may know, we've had an exceptionally dry, warm fall and yes, we are getting a lot of heat through the south windows, but we've found that the insulated draperies do an excellent job of blocking the direct sun and heat. If we want to leave the draperies open, we just open a couple of windows to get a cross draft and it cools the house down very nicely. With the wooden blinds in the sun room, it's shaded enough where it doesn't get too hot.

It also doesn't seem to get too cold at night, just a little chilly in the morning, but the warmth from the great room area pretty much takes care of it. The house is holding the temperature in the evenings and it's such a pleasure to walk in at 10 p.m. at night from the very cold outside and the house just feels so good, like a warm blanket! So, during the day, it gets up to about 76-78 with no windows open and at night, gets down to 68 or so. Very comfortable!

My nephew has been so anxious to have a fire in the stove, but we haven't needed it at all. I don't think we will, unless we start getting some cloudy days. Of course, we haven't turned the heater on at all! APS recently went to net metering and our bills have been in the low $40s per month. I'm sure they'll go up a bit in the winter, but considering we don't have gas, that's not a bad monthly utility bill!...Thanks!"
- Paula