The New Economy Home is the first house of its kind, designed specifically to meet the needs of our shifting times. It is a 1771 sq. ft. 4 bedroom/3.5 bathroom house that addresses the impact that the current economy is having on how we build for today and in the future.


The New Economy Home is designed with the flexibility to adapt to the owners needs in either good times or bad. An adaptable suite is located on the first floor with a private entrance and porch. The suite can function as part of the whole house or break off into a private suite or income producing apartment. In good times this suite can be used a a family room or guest bedroom. In tighter economic times, this suite can be rented to help offset the mortgage, used by an adult child returning home, an elderly parent, or even one member of a divorcing couple that can’t support two households.


The New Economy Home is designed to be efficient to both build and to maintain over time. The small and simple footprint is based on standard dimensional lumber to minimize cutting on site. Plumbing fixtures are grouped in centralized locations to simplify plumbing installation and reduce consumption. The building envelope and construction details merge the latest technologies in green building with common sense details that maximize the value of sun and water, while minimizing the load they place on the mechanical systems. Every set of plans comes with a full materials list and product specifications.

The New Economy Home responds to the realities of our time with a design that is economical to build, efficient to maintain and adaptable over time. But just as importantly, it is comfortable to live in and attractive to look at. Living within our means does not have to mean trading down, it can and hopefully will, mean trading up and making our lives better.

About The TEAM: Marianne, Fernando & Mark

Marianne Cusato is well-known for her work on the Katrina Cottages, now sold in kit form at Lowe’s home centers nationwide. In 2006, her 308 s.f. Katrina Cottage won the Smithsonian Institute’s Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum’s “People’s Design Award.”  In June 2006, Congress appropriated $400 million for an alternative emergency housing program, based on the idea of the Katrina Cottage.

Ranked the No. 4 most influential person in the home building industry in Builder magazine’s annual “Power on 50” list, Cusato and her design principles are changing the landscape of the housing industry.

Cusato has also been honored with the American Society of Interior Designers “2007 ASID Design for Humanity Award” and the American Institute of Building Designers (AIBD) Florida Society “2007 Honor Award of Excellence.”She is the author of two books: Get Your House Right: Architectural Elements to Use and Avoid, with Ben Pentreath, Richard Sammons and Leon Krier, foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales (January 2008, Sterling Publishing) and The Value of Design (February 2008, James Hardie). In the fall of 2008, Cusato was a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame teaching agricultural urbanism and residential architecture in a 5th year studio design course.

Born and raised in Anchorage, AK, Cusato is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture and is currently based in Miami, FL. She is the founder of Cusato Cottages, LLC.

Fernando Pagés Ruiz a builder, developer and author, is an expert on how to save money while keeping quality high when building or remodeling. Pagés' unique approach to homebuilding comes from 30 years of research and experience in developing better and more efficient, environmentally sound methods of construction.

His company has won numerous national awards including the 2008 “Green Building Single Family House of the Year” and the 2007 “Workforce Housing Award” from the National Association of Home Builders. In 2006, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's PATH project chose him to build America's first PATH Concept Home, a home that is affordable to purchase and to maintain and while meeting the criteria of LEED for Homes, ENERGY STAR, MASCO Environments for Living, and the NAHB's Green Building certifications.

He is the author of two books published by the Taunton Press: Affordable Remodel: How to get custom results on any budget (2007) and Building an Affordable House: A high-value, low-cost approach to building (2005). He is also a regular contributor to Fine Homebuilding and the Journal of Light Construction. Pagés is the president of Brighton Construction, a builder and developer in Nebraska and Wyoming.

As a distinguished trainer, writer and consultant, Mark LaLiberté has devoted two decades to educating the homebuilding industry about the benefits of constructing durable, energy efficient and healthier homes.

A presenter in high demand, LaLiberté has been featured at leading industry events such as the NAHB International Builders Show, PCBC, Sunbelt Builders Show, and JLCLive conferences. He delivers training sessions for major manufacturers, utilities and for non-profit agencies. He co-created the program curriculum for the Energy and Environmental Building Association (EEBA) Houses That Work™ program which is based on the U.S. Department of Energy's Building America Program, served in an advisory capacity on the EPA's ENERGY STAR® Program and the Minnesota Energy Code Advancement Project. LaLiberté was the recipient of a lifetime achievement award for his long-standing commitment to helping the home construction industry embrace building science at the 2002 EEBA Conference.

Building Knowledge Inc's Building Better Homes™ Program features LaLiberté as the on-camera guide for the highly acclaimed 3-CD interactive training program, which teaches cutting-edge, easy-to-access techniques through hands-on video, close-up photos, construction details, animations and step-by-step instructions. A Prairie-style home LaLiberté built as a living laboratory in suburban Minneapolis is a backdrop for demonstrating some of these techniques in footage illustrating proper site drainage, water management, advanced wall systems, ventilation, window installation and other topics.

LaLiberté has also served as spokesperson for the Ad Council's Energy Hog Campaign, TLC's “Home Pro” and “Home Savvy” series and the PBS “Hometime” series. He is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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