Affordable by Design Housing Playbook

The AFFORDABLE BY DESIGN HOUSING PLAYBOOK is designed to apply innovation in the accelerated production of affordable housing solutions. Together with its partners, Omaha by Design is proud to introduce this series of open-source affordable housing prototypes, collaboratively designed to assist prospective homeowners and developers in their efforts to address the “affordability gap” in new-construction infill housing.


// Download the Playbook

Playbook Partners

Design Process

Design Concept

Playbook Prototypes + Customization

Resources + Best Practices


At Omaha by Design, we recognize that housing can either be a barrier or a gateway to accessing civic life and equitable opportunities for prosperity.

Recognizing how Omaha, like cities across the nation, is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, we launched the first chapter of the Affordable by Design Housing Playbook to help:

• Address the “affordability gap” in home design, construction, and maintenance
• Broaden access to wealth-building through home-ownership
• Provide for a wide variety of family structures and cultural preferences
• Introduce and employ universal design best practices
• Identify and implement construction efficiencies to reduce up-front and lifecycle costs
• Promote people- and neighborhoodcentered urban design.

Conceived as an open-source set of housing prototypes, the goal was to develop a resource that will help potential homeowners and small developers understand what is possible on the typically narrow lots in Omaha’s older neighborhoods.

Along with our professional and community partners, we have worked to create a conceptual design that accommodates the conditions of urban infill sites, complements and enhances existing neighborhoods, and allows potential homeowners to have agency over the final design while using a simple base prototype.

The design shown within this document is conceptual and is intended to provide homeowners, developers, and builders with an idea of what they can do on their own properties. The base design is simple – a rectangular footprint for the house, and another rectangular footprint for the attached garage – but is paired with a number of customization options including material palettes and roof forms to ensure that the resulting homes are anything but cookie cutter.

The simplicity of the base plan is intended to provide a straightforward building envelope that can be constructed out of a variety of typical construction systems–from stick framed to structurally insulated panels. This is intended to allow flexibility to accommodate owner/developer preferences as well as changes in material and labor markets.

But design alone can’t mitigate all of the volatility in today’s construction and homebuying climate and solve for affordability. As such, this study is intended to be just one tool in a set, providing conceptual plans that can be partnered with financing, development incentives, and other components within the development ecosystem to create an affordable product.

Scott Dobbe
Executive Director, Omaha by Design