House orientation is the strategy of designing and siting your home to harness the natural advantages of your land. A properly oriented home will use less energy and be more comfortable.
Orientation is often overlooked during the design phase. It’s easy to get caught up in Pinterest and Instagram pictures, obsessing over facades, finishes, colours, and the latest trends. But fads and trends will change, while the orientation of your house layout is almost impossible to change once your home is built, so it’s important to get it right.
When you start thinking about house orientation, the key factors to consider are:
The first step in determining the best orientation for your new home is to work out what climate zone you are in. Most parts of Australia experience warm or hot summers and mild or cool winters. In these zones, including the Coffs Coast, the main focus is on keeping your home cool in summer. If you are in a Cool Temperate or Alpine zone, your focus will be on keeping your home warm in winter. You can work out which climate you’re you are in by visiting the Australian Government’s Your Home website.
Solar access refers to the amount of direct sunlight hitting your home’s windows at different times of day and different times throughout the year.
Aim to take advantage of the prevailing winds – why turn on an air conditioner when you can open a couple of windows? On the Coffs Coast, the afternoon sea breeze is generally from the north east.
The unique conditions on each site must be taken into consideration. Are buildings on adjacent blocks shading your block? Do you have views? What is the difference in elevation between your block and your neighbour? Is there a noisy road or train line nearby?
Once you have determined which factors apply to your particular block of land, it’s time to start thinking about how these factors will influence the design and orientation of your home.
Determining the best orientation for your block will involve a series of compromises. For example, what do you do if your views are to the south but you want good solar access to the north? These contradictions must be considered on a case by case basis, but in general, the following principles are good starting points:
It helps to use an accredited building designer or architect at this stage, as they will often know intuitively how to harness the potential of your land. Our lead building designer at Balance Design and Construction has achieved HIA Green Smart accreditation, and is well placed to help you make the most of your land.
The climate on the Coffs Coast is forgiving. It rarely gets too hot, and it rarely gets too cold, so we can get away with design compromises that would be unadvisable elsewhere. However, it is still important to get the solar orientation of your home correct.
The sun passes higher overhead in summer, so it is vital to have eaves at least 600mm wide to shade your windows from direct sun. In winter, when the sun passes lower in the sky, the sun will shine directly into properly oriented windows, providing free heating for your home. Extra shading or vegetation on the western side of your home will help to keep your home cooler on summer afternoons.
One word of warning – if you are searching for advice on house orientation, be careful to choose advice from a local Australian source. Many architects, designers, and consultants from the United States, Canada, and Europe have great advice about this topic, but in the northern hemisphere, homes are oriented to the south, not the north. Northern hemisphere designers (particularly those in Europe, Canada, and northern USA) are also usually trying to find ways to warm their houses, not keep them cool, due to their prevailing climate conditions. Orienting your house to the south west may make sense in Canada (where the locals joke there are two seasons – this winter and next winter), but in Australia that will produce a hot and dark house.
The Australian Government’s Your Home site includes a huge amount of information about building a comfortable, well designed home. Information about orienting your new house properly is available at https://www.yourhome.gov.au/passive-design/orientation
Our Green Smart accredited building designer is available to help you start planning your comfortable, sustainable new home. Give us a call to arrange your free consultation!
The team at Balance provides expert assistance at every stage of the residential construction process, from initial feasibility analyses to final touch-ups. Our in-house design team has produced a portfolio of exceptional new home designs, and we also offer custom design services using state-of-the-art design software (including 3D renderings you can view on your smartphone or VR glasses!).
We have solutions for steep sites, beachfront lots, and unusually-shaped blocks. We take care of Council paperwork and approvals, and provide professional interior design advice to ensure your home is stylish and practical.
Seeking a construction partner for your next investment project? Balance are the Coffs Coast experts in townhouse and boutique developments, with multiple successful projects delivered over recent years, producing excellent returns for our clients.
We offer a unique service to investors, with our ability to handle every stage of your development, from early concept plans through to completion. We provide excellent value, and can even put you in touch with quality local real estate agents to help sell or rent your new development.
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Unfortunately, the big builders have convinced new home buyers that the only way to afford a new home is to settle for one of their standard plans or pre-arranged house and land packages. But why settle for a home designed for someone else?
A home designed to meet your specific needs may be much more affordable than you realise! At Balance, our pricing is transparent and we’ll happily tailor our designs to meet your budget and the family’s needs.
You’ve got nothing to lose – visit our display home, or give us a call today on 1300 056 298 to arrange a free consultation.