The 20/20 House Part 4 – How should a site be oriented when you want to build your energy efficient and sustainable home?

The Gruen Eco Design blog about how to convert your dream from an energy efficient home into a reality.

Now that you have narrowed down the area you want to build in. It’s time to check out what’s on the market and to observe. Go to a few inspections and maybe a few auctions and keep an eye on for how much houses or land is getting listed and for how much it has been sold. This will give you a better idea about what you will be able to afford. Also see if you can get hold of RP Data from the area and a market analysis from a real estate agent.
What to look for on your ideal block depends also on what kind of house you are after. Ideally the site should be facing east-west. With the road either on the west or east side. This allows you to place your new home close to the southern boundary and have the long side of the house facing north. To get all the passive solar gains you want and need. (of course, you have to be careful not to overglaze and need shading, but we will talk about this in a later blog). However, this set out only works if the side is wide enough, so that you still have enough room between the north wall of your house and the fence. Ideally you should have 5.5m or close to that. This scenario will only work if you are happy to live in a relatively compact home, as opposed to a big mansion.
If you do want a rather large house with a large number of bedrooms and several living areas, or if the side is fairly narrow, you will most likely not be able to setback the walls enough from the northern boundary and therefore north should be orientated towards the rear, so that at least the living areas can open up to the garden and face north.
Of course, you can also make the house work if north is not straight out the side or the back, but I would advice on having north on the side of the road. Although a clever design can often overcome a poor orientation to some degree, this will make the layout and the design of your home much more restricted and might increase your construction cost.

In the next blog I will talk about council regulations and trees and how they can have a big impact on your project.