Self-Sufficient Living in the Texas Hill Country

self-sufficient living

Nestled on 100 acres in Texas Hill Country, this artist’s compound is a colorful gem of self-sufficient living and connection with nature. It is an energy efficient and creative nod to quintessential, self-reliant, Texas ranch living.

A heavily integrated design process included builder, client and architect and after a careful one year process this design began construction. The homeowners did their own landscaping and incorporated a holistic approach to site planning and landscape, programmed from the beginning of the planning process. Family and community are the focus of this ranch, creating a space where the homeowners could age in place surrounded by family, food, and the Texas countryside.

self-sufficient living

An abundant one acre garden and orchard are watered solely by a 30,000 gallon rainwater collection tank. This tank is also used to water cattle and other livestock on the ranch, providing the family with their food needs. An additional 40,000 rainwater tank provides 100% of the water necessary for domestic water usage. This solar powered compound is complete with a battery backup system to support energy needs for the main house and detached living quarters.

The building envelope integrates 2×6 advanced framing, full fill spray foam insulation and Zip SystemⓇ into an exceptionally energy efficient yet affordable home. Whole home air filtration and a high efficiency CarrierⓇ InfinityⓇ variable speed heat pump provide a comfortable and healthy home environment. No VOC paints and stains were used throughout creating healthy indoor air quality. Low flow water fixtures, dual flush toilets and energy efficient appliances were also used to minimize energy and water usage. Large overhangs and screened porches were essential to reducing the exposure of the intense Texas heat and provide the family with an additional living quarters. Locally handcrafted blacksmith handrails are a beautiful touch that incorporate local materials and support the local economy by employing local artisans.

self-sufficent livingWith the combination of these sustainable features, this home has currently achieved a 10 HERS rating which indicates that this home is 90% more efficient than a standard home built today. The homeowner is already planning an expansion of the solar array to achieve their ultimate goal of having a net zero home (HERS rating of 0).

Homeowners removed invasive species and took special consideration to land stewardship and property management throughout the process of this project. In the past few years Texas has been plagued with drought and wildfires, and the homeowners built this passive solar home in response to the changing landscape. A preliminary Wildfire Defense assessment was incorporated into the building site to minimize risk of loss. Equipped with Firewise stucco exterior and a galvalume reflective metal roof this home is built and designed to local wildfire standards. Additionally, this property has an approved Texas Agricultural Exemption and features the iconic Texas Longhorn, highlighting the effort to be a balanced part of the surrounding environment.

Throughout this house and property the homeowners, builder and architect have shown attention to detail and thoughtful reflection before execution. Adorned with special touches and color at every turn, it is evident that these homeowners love art, cooking, and time with family as much as they love preservation of energy, water and the environment.

See more pictures, video interview with architect Stephen Colley, and more about this self-sufficient home here: Burnet, Texas Custom-Built Sustainable Home


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Born and raised in the midwest, Ryan went to school for art, film, & theatre, attending Purdue University, Oxford, and the University of Central Florida. He has a varied background, with experience working in graphic design, film, computer-aided drafting, website design & optimization, marketing, education, construction, carpentry, and solar PV. Ryan works for NATiVE, a leader in net zero energy construction, solar, rainwater collection, and other green energy-saving solutions for both commercial and residential. Ryan manages the NATiVE website, produces videos, graphics, and maintains NATiVE's digital presence. Build Smart. Build NATiVE.

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