Debra Rucker Coleman, Architect
Floor 1
1,832 sf
Floor 2
969 sf
2,801 sf
Entry Faces
South Glass
The Solstice is a simple cottage home styled after the Dakota house plan, but with a larger first floor and the master bedroom on the east to capture the morning sun. The great room is vaulted as well as the upstairs rooms which adds character along with the dormers. The front of the house is designed to face north leaving the back facing south which maximizes privacy in the abundance of south facing windows.
First Floor
The front entry can be a large foyer or small music or away room as well as an airlock entry for cold winter days. The master bedroom, great room, large dining area, and spacious kitchen will be full of sunlight year-round, yet shaded from direct solar gain in summer. The woodstove or fireplace hearth is in the center of the home for equal distribution of heat. The second floor balcony over looks this area. The laundry is near the kitchen and side entry, yet you don't have to walk through it coming and going. Like our other plans, there are many special nooks tucked in.
Second Floor
The stairs with a large half-round window lead up to the second floor. There are three bedrooms and a bath making the area great for kids, guest, and studies and the walk-in attic storage is easy to access. For the bedrooms there are many small closets tucked under the eaves instead of one large one.
The two car garage with a tractor, workshop, or south greenhouse space connects directly to the home with a small covered stoop which could be enclosed.
Construction Info
The great room and upstairs have vaulted ceilings while the rest of the first floor has 9' ceilings. With its simple shape, this house is well suited to be constructed with SIPs (structurally insulated panels) should you wish to substitute them from the stick framed walls and ceiling. The thermal mass is designed to be primarily in the tiled concrete slab floors, but with the optional brick or stone walls, the house could still be comfortable over a crawl or basement.
Modification Ideas
Since these ideas may affect energy performance and structural integrity, they should only be undertaken with professional assistance.
  • Add a wrap-around front porch across the front for cool summer evenings and a country look
  • Add a full daylight basement with bedrooms if your lot slopes to the south and eliminate the second floor
Construction Drawings
For this plan, the following are included with Construction Prints and CAD Files:
  • Schematic Site Plan
  • Slab on Grade Foundation Plan
  • Floor Plans
  • Exterior Elevations 
  • Building Section
  • Kitchen Elevations
  • Typical Wall Section
  • Schematic Electrical Plans
  • Schematic Framing Plans
  • Garage Plans
Comments and Photos
Vern Little of Anchorage Builders who built a Solstice home tells us:
"The Solstice was built for Bill and Nicole in Efland, NC. It turned out great and they are experiencing a comfortable, self regulating house with very low electric bills, in the $40-60 per month range depending on season. Bill's professional woodworking shop is running off the same meter, too. They have great cross breezes and the passive solar works like a dream.
Here are the general energy-related specs on the house:
Orientation -- south faces 4 degrees east of true south
Foundation - Raised, insulated slab with extensive tile on first floor
2x6 walls with extensive air sealing,
Wall & Roof Insulation - Icynene (sprayed foam)
South Glass - Cardinal LoE-178 #3 0.63 SHGC glass
E,W, N Windows -- Cardinal Lo-E 170 0.37 SHGC glass
(The window data above is for the glass only. Pella ProLine casements and awnings were used. Cardinal is one of the most popular glass manufacturer's and is use by many window manufacturers.)
HVAC - 2 small heat pumps for up and down, with extra air returns or transfer grilles, and fresh air intake
Wood stove
Solar hot water
Garage & Shop - detached garage, pre-plumbed conduit for future PV (large roof area)
Interior Finishes - hickory flooring in kitchen (dropped slab to allow flush transition) and upstairs, cherry trim and interior doors, custom faux finish paint on some areas, extensive color elsewhere, owner built front door (mahogany) and birch kitchen cabinets,
Exterior Finishes - local craftsman built timber frame front entry with cherry T&G gable inside porch covering, stone chimney
It was a great experience and co-collaboration with the Home Owners on finishing details." We had the house on the local green building tour last May; it was a great example of true passive solar and great architecture." - Vernon Little, Anchorage Building Corp
Second set of photos
The first Solstice was designed for Pam and Paul. Their 2801 s.f. 1.5 story residence in eastern North Carolina was built by contractor, Frank McLawhorn. Ron Sessoms, the interior finish carpenter, was responsible for the design and implementation of the beautiful arts and crafts interior details.
The foundation is a concrete slab on grade with insulation beneath the southern area of the slab that receives direct sun. The 2x6 exterior walls are filled with sprayed insulation, and wrapped with rigid insulation. The vented roof has thick insulation. The glass area of the south windows equals 9% of the floor area requiring the house to have thermal mass: 4-inch concrete slab covered with tile. The auxiliary mechanical system is a heat pump. The thermostat is kept on 68 degrees F in winter and 78 degrees in summer.
The windows are often open from mid-April to mid-June and from mid-September to late October. In the summer, they use ceiling fans. They have a propane instantaneous hot water heater and fireplace that they use only on very cold (below 30 degrees F) evenings or for atmosphere. In wintertime, the house is comfortable except when the temperatures drop below 20 and there is no sun for three days or more. In spring and fall, it is just right and they love to have the windows open. In summer, the end bedrooms can get too warm on really hot days.
Their favorite spaces are the living room and the adjoining deck. Regarding what they would do differently, they said, "One more big 'junk' closet would have been great…" They also wished they could have afforded to add other energy efficient technologies such as active solar. They are glad instead that they focused on keeping the house size down as that allowed them to afford some of the finer interior design features.
Pam and Paul like the "open, light-filled spaces, feelings of comfort, and energy independence. We absolutely love our passive solar house!
Working with Debbie was easy, fun and extremely successful for us. It might be helpful to also know that this is the very first house that we have ever had built, and neither one of us knew the first thing about construction before the process started. I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that Debbie made every effort to understand what we were looking for in a design and to help us better understand the important special aspects of passive solar design. We spent a LONG time filling out the questionnaire that she sent — and she paid attention to every detail. There were many changes made in the preliminary designs as we refined our ideas. Debbie was extraordinarily patient with our changes and questions, and the final plans were still produced by her with a minimum of delay. We exchanged LOTS of emails and phone calls, and actually didn't have the pleasure of meeting her face-to-face until we got to give her the tour of 'her' finished house.
We are especially happy to report that we got a delicious tax break for building a passive solar house. On top of that, our utility bills in the last year have been gratifyingly reasonable."