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Bill Randall built his architectural practice doing solar and energy-efficient design, but recently, he's had an itch to get into small, sustainable housing.  So last November, he launched thesimpleHOUSE, and the concept has already been given an Honorable Mention in the 2008 green dot awards.  thesimpleHOUSE is all about providing simple, contemporary, green house plans at an affordable price.  You can order your choice of the expanding line of plans from prices of about $475 — a straight up deal when you think about it.

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The homes are designed with passive solar, vaulted ceilings, exterior gathering space, LED lights, motion / timer switches, and other energy efficient features.  The renderings look pretty good so far.  

But other than the designs, I like thesimpleHOUSE because the founder's perspective is timely and refreshing.  Bill Randall mentioned in an email yesterday, "I saw a banner the other day that said, 'our families are getting small and our houses are getting larger' — that's bothersome to us."  Which is why thesimpleHOUSE has a goal to keep their plans under 2000 sf (and most under 1600 sf).  This is a good spot to be in these days. 

thesimpleHOUSE is a new entrant in this space, so who knows, maybe we'll see an entire neighborhood of simple houses.  As thesimpleHOUSE grows, they'll be in good company with a couple other home plan providers.  For instance, FreeGreen provides free plans of various styles and LaMiDesign provides modern plans for a price.  I guess it comes down to style, cost, and liking what you see. 

[+] thesimpleHOUSE blog

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Photo credits: Bill Randall; top two photos = 1024 sf FERN; bottom two = 1056 sf FERN.