A home must be expandable. It must be designed with efficiency in mind for current and future configurations.
Browsing thru an old sketchbook today, I stumbled on a 5 yr old sketch of what I was dreaming up for a house of my own. It had a central element with the most basic home needs in it. Kitchen, living space and sleeping area – into an efficient block. Then from there modules can be attached to it as needed. The basic module will already be laid out and built to accommodate where potential expansion modules would be added. This means that the framing will be robust. The roof will be simple and easy to connect to. Interior spaces will be flexible to having a wall removed. Utility lines will be pre-routed into zones where expansion will not be a hindrance and maintenance for present and future layout would still be accessible.
The benefits to this are many-and obvious. One of the big costs of a home is the enclosure-the roof, walls and foundation. This means the expansion module of the home would already save on one side of it-where it is connecting to the main home. Where portions of that original wall are kept and used in the interior would also have the benefit of being a sturdier core. As an exterior wall that is now an interior wall-it also has potential for use as part of a safe room.
The utilities also being predesigned for the expansion means you will have less need to rip out and extend your water or electrical lines. I am thinking pre-locating future pull boxes to extend electric, and a similar approach for water. These would be routed where it makes best sense for future repair, connection and access-while being efficient so that it can reach your kitchen and bathroom with the least amount of distance needed.
This also means that one can build at a more remote location more easily. The basic home module will be a small, easy to start component. You build it in phases and it will provide shelter for your equipment and materials as you build it out. I guess it would match how homes were built back in the pioneering/homesteading days when a family would start with a basic shed and expand as their stability in their land was established-this as opposed to the conventional home being put on a site in a six month construction blitz. A family would have access to their basic needs and can expand as they realize their future needs or as they get established to do so.
This concept of phasing residential construction goes against our current culture where we want everything done in one go. Nobody has patience anymore and wants a finished and furnished house from day 1. Homes need establishment like all permaculture systems. This allows you time to observe and interact (permaculture principle) to your location and to the lifestyle you are building there.
I hope to illustrate this concept into a prototype in the near future. I am juggling some duties at home in the interim as we adjust to the crazy things going on in the real world. Setting up a blog and developing it as a base of operations requires a lot of time and effort. Still, my main goal is to develop these into designs that can be used in the real world needs of people to build their own homes. I plan to continue on this path with anyone who will join me.