Ohio-based on-your-lot builder Schumacher Homes had been offering between 400 and 500 house plans from its 25 locations in 14 states. But what it lacked, says CEO Paul Schumacher, were “cutting-edge” designs that appeal to younger buyers who put energy efficiency at the top of their lists.
Enter G-Line, Schumacher Homes’ series of 12 new house plans and 24 elevations. When it introduced this collection in August, it seemed like the builder was pitching G-Line as the latest and greatest in eco-friendly shelter, touting the line’s “unique designs” that “embody the principals of sustainable design” and “come with an array of carbon-conscious standard features.” But Schumacher Homes is marketing more than greenness. Its website highlights several features with a “G,” which in some cases stands for “green,” but in others also signifies “generation.” In the first category falls such features as Energy Star certification and high-efficiency HVAC systems. Also designated are exterior walls insulated with spray-foam that, in some markets, has an R-value of 49. All of the homes are painted with low-VOC architectural coatings. Kitchens and baths include water-saving fixtures.
The website text, though, also shows a “G” next to recessed can lights, OSB exterior sheathing protected with housewrap, subflooring screwed and glued to floor joists to reduce squeaking, a recycling bin base cabinet, and “duct connections sealed with mastic.”
Schumacher explains that his company isn’t claiming these basic construction features are energy efficient or environmentally kinder. “They are part of the design package, and we simply wanted to call attention to them,” he says.
What Schumacher Homes is really promoting with G-Line, he says, is a “philosophy” about how and where buyers want to live. “G-Line is about design first, features second.” Dominick Tringali Architects in Michigan came up with two architectural styles—Next Gen Traditional and Eco Contemporary (pictured below)—which the builder tweaked in response to customer focus groups. The house plans—which range from 1,100 to 3,400 square feet, and cost from $81 to $93 per square foot to build, excluding land—are distinguished by walls of windows, steep pitch gables and single slope roof pitches, and deep overhanging eaves.
“The look of the product and its floor plans are completely different from what Schumacher had been selling before,” says J.R. Ruthig, managing designer for Dominick Tringali Architects. Geometric- and linear-designed modules “make the plans flexible and reduce material waste.”
The company sold its first G-Line home in Asheville, N.C., in August. Mary Becker, Schumacher’s vice president of sales and marketing, says interest is spanning “all demographics,” not just the younger buyers who are its primary targets. Becker and Schumacher won’t project sales, but have high hopes. “A lot of [builders] are maintaining a low profile,” says Becker. “We’re not. G-Line is our way of introducing something fresh into the market.”