Affordable, modern architecture is a white whale. Which is where Hometta comes in. The site, which goes live next month, will offer modern house plans designed by 20 up-and-coming contemporary architects. The plans will range in price from $1,195 to $3,195 for a one- to three-bedroom, which is in line with majority of home plans on the market today. They'll also be selling "design subscriptions" and "building subscriptions" for $9.95 and $99.95, which will allow varied access to the plans, so that you might have your builder vet them, or crib ideas.
Each one of the houses is relatively small. None of them is over 2,500 square feet, which is the average size of an American home. And each of them has several energy efficiency measures, including radiant heating and cooling, passive ventilation, and building walls clad in solar panels or guarded by plantings.
Of course, the X-factor is how much these homes will cost per square foot. Hometta says they'll offer choices in finishing, and that the houses will be "relatively affordable for a fine architectural product." That leaves lots of room for sticker shock. But when you're spending $2,000 for a home plan, rather than a $30,000 or more for architect, upgrading the finishes could make more sense.
The push to make contemporary architecture more widely available isn't new—that's the entire rationale behind prefab houses. But the open secret about prefab is that the homes have never managed to catch fire on the market. Many of the most famous designs have sold fewer than a dozen houses. And that, in turn, has spurred the market for contemporary housing plans—some more radical than others. One extraordinary experiment along those lines is Free Green, which distributes sustainable housing plans for free, and supports itself by partnering with building-supply manufacturers. (You can read more about how that business model works here.)