Drive through Mayfield these days and you’ll see many new homes that have been designed and built with efficiency and affordability as their top priorities.
Among those involved in this building boomlet is the Central Virginia Housing Coalition, which is constructing a pair of prairie-style houses on Myrick Street that will provide attractive, comfortable places to live for people who can’t afford homes that cost an arm and a leg.
According to Lou Barnett, the coalition’s director of community outreach, the houses will list for $174,900 each, and they are expected to be move-in ready by the end of the year. They remain unsold. Programs are available for buyers who qualify, based on income, for down payment assistance and other programs that help people buy and keep their homes.
CVHC also provides 78 rental units in the area—some of which have 20-year tenants—and Barnett said it is always shopping for grants to improve its units’ energy efficiency with upgrades to windows and HVAC systems, and always welcomes state and federal funding to help it pursue its mission of providing housing for the homeless.
“There is so much need, and we’re doing everything we can to meet it,” said Barnett.
The coalition’s prime mission has always been “to get more people into home ownership,” she said, and it would welcome partnerships with area builders willing to help.
To that end, the organization has built a dozen homes in its 25 years of existence, and the two homes under construction at 1004 and 1006 Myrick St. are excellent examples of working to put good, affordable housing where it’s sorely needed.
Barnett said the coalition seeks not only to build homes that are energy efficient and use sustainable materials, it also looks to do business with local suppliers and subcontractors. That not only keeps the money in the community, it limits the pollution and costs associated with transportation.
To create the Myrick Street homes, CVHC partnered with TightLines Designs, a Raleigh, N.C.-based company that describes itself as “a socially responsible architecture firm whose mission is to provide eco-friendly, quality affordable housing design solutions.”
A quick look at the Myrick Street homes, along with the architectural floor plan sketches, suggests that these concepts are the kind that go beyond the affordable applications found here to broader use in any new-home construction.
The homes and their appliances will meet Energy Star requirements. The floor plans make the most of the 1,120 square feet of living space available. The first level features an open main living and dining area separated by low-level walls that define the spaces without closing them off.
The corner kitchen will have an angled, bar-height counter perfect for grabbing a quick bite.
Access to the back door is through a laundry room/mud room space that can be closed off. Under the staircase is the main-level powder room.
Upstairs features a master suite with its own bathroom and two secondary bedrooms that share a full bath. The cleverly designed angled doorways to the secondary bedrooms leave symmetrical spaces for a linen closet and
There’s even a small backyard for the kids to play in.
There is no wasted space here, and there are plenty of windows to provide ample natural light. There’s even a dormer window to illuminate the attic storage space.
ANSWERING A NEED
Lindsay Locke, TightLines’ director of business development, said the company’s small-footprint designs are popular with non-profits such as Habitat for Humanity and the CVHC.
“Our single-family houses are about 900 to 1,600 square feet and designed to fit on narrow lots. They don’t look like your typical affordable housing,” she said. “They are the solution for organizations that are looking for socially responsible, eco-friendly and affordable housing.”
Locke said the plans can also be drawn to meet universal design standards whether the goal is Americans With Disabilities Act approval or simply to allow people to more comfortably age in place.
She added that the company is seeing an increasing demand for multifamily designs that meet the same criteria for affordability and efficiency as its single-family plans.
Locke noted that TightLines homes provide front porches to foster “neighborhood awareness and connectivity” because the more time people spend socializing with neighbors outside their homes, the more they are able to keep tabs on their neighborhood while discouraging undesirable activities.
An attractive aspect for the non-profit groups is that once they choose a suitable design, TightLines can transmit the pre-drawn architectural plans within 24 hours, so that part of the project is accomplished very quickly.
As of this week the drywall is going up in one of the Myrick Street houses. The exteriors are pretty much completed. Because of the narrow space separating the houses, their side walls are fire-rated to prevent the spread of fire.
Barnett said CVHC is always looking for additional properties on which to build affordable housing. She notes that the addition of new housing in Mayfield appears to be spurring owners of existing homes to fix up their properties.
If the maintenance and remodeling trucks scattered throughout the neighborhood are any indication, she makes a good point.