In researching the possibility of placing a small secondary dwelling on his rental property, the owner discovered that Austin is one of three cities in the country that encourage alley flats for inner-city lots.

The Alley Flat Initiative and Austin’s Smart Housing program encourage small accessory residences to help create affordable rental units near downtown and assist homeowners with income to offset rising property taxes. The builder and architect collaborated on an alley flat in 2008 and were ready for another opportunity to work together and utilize their previous experience.

The project’s tiny footprint of 660 square feet called for a two story dwelling located behind the main house. Two bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen and living/dining area now fill out a total of 850 square feet. The limited budget did not preclude efficiency. Operable windows are positioned to catch prevailing breezes and a large oak tree shades the building’s west side. All living spaces have fans. High efficiency HVAC kicks in when passive measures need a boost. A heat pump water heater is centrally located to shorten hot water lines. Even small roofs can host solar panels and this alley flat is designed for that future scenario. The alley-facing landscape on any lot can be tricky, but this architect understands the secret: “I didn't design the home, the site did.”

Located at 5413-B Duval Street | 78751

Austin Community Design and Development Center
Richard MacMath, Project Architect

Z Works Design Build Inc.
Khairuz Zaman, AIA.

Straight Solutions, Inc.    
Brian Fuller

Alley Flat Initiative Home Tour, June 18    
Austin Community Design & Development Center

Austin Energy Program Participant
5-star Austin Energy Green Building rating

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