Best person to place house and barn?

gilesrealtyJuly 21, 2014

We purchased 3+ wooded acres. Who would be the best professional to help us decide the optimal house location? The architect? Structural engineer?
I just wander around wondering where the house will go.

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Camp there for several weekends and watch the sun and shadows ...

Stop and think what your priorities and problems will be ...

Privacy versus easy access - how far from the road?

Winter/ice/rain access - Do you need to run the access road to avoid steep slopes and muddy bottoms?

Convenience for caring for horses (since you mention barn) - how far do you want to walk in the worst weather that location has?

How far do you want to haul construction materials
How much driveway do you want to care for

Where will you have winter sun and summer shade?
What angle will work best for solar water heaters?
Where can you sit year-round, or at least 3 seasns?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 12:26PM
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Annie Deighnaugh


    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 1:14PM
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3 acres isn't gigantic.

What will the barn be used for? Is the property fairly level? If not, I'd put the barn where it is most level.

How much forest do you want to cut? If you need a well and septic, you'll need a good-sized treeless space for them, in addition to barn, house, and driveway. Do you want to be surrounded by trees? Is there a change in elevation that would lend itself to a walkout (if you wanted one)?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 1:21PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

DH insisted on a paved, level, short driveway. The last thing he wanted to do was to have to drive to the end of the driveway to see if the paper came.

If you want to build for energy efficiency, build so that the majority of the windows face south, put few windows facing north, berm the lower level if possible on the north side, and locate your outdoor porch/deck area in the SE corner.

Look at the property and decide what you want to look at all the you have a view you want to see? Neighbors that you don't?

But a good architect should be able to help you with all of this.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 4:18PM
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Thank you for the advice.
The 3 acre lot is in a subdivision and 2 sides with paved roads so long access won't be a problem. I was thinking one driveway that splits - one to the garage and the other to the barn/shop.
500 x 510 x 490 x 85 and it's level. And we do want to build for energy efficiency and will have septic. The utilities are already at the street so that's good. Planning on the barn to have a guest suite that we will live in while we sell our current home and build the new one. (50 x 30) And no horses...some chickens and a couple goats and 4 beehives.
Since there are roads on 2 sides, the house will face either north or west. Will have a sunroom/screened porch and we are in Texas.
I'm not sure if we are to the point of choosing an architect, but then again, it would make planning easier if we had the basics in location decided.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 5:37PM
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We had the luxury of observing our land for a full year before building. We built the barn first, and lived in it while building the house. Although we were kind of locked in on location due to access, view, and topography, we wound up rotating the house about 30 degrees off of a north/south or east/west orientation.

In Texas, the west side of a house will be hot, and you want to limit windows and try to incorporate shade trees. The north side of any location is cold, uninviting, and tends to grow mold or algae. If you can rotate the house a bit so the 'north' side gets some sun, it makes all the difference.

Our barn is a little over 100' from the house; close enough to use the same septic system (you WANT a bathroom in your barn!) but far enough that noises and odors aren't objectionable at the house.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 6:41PM
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we are in southeast texas and have a corner lot also-with 4 acres
our subdivision required that we face the house on the street it
was located on (where the address was)
fortunately our houseplan worked well with that orientation

the subdivision requires certain setbacks, including 150 feet from the street, however the side street doesn't have that strict setback and we were able to have a hundred foot drive way which could have been shorter, but we wanted a 60 foot
long shop with doors facing the driveway before you get to the garage on the opposite side of the driveway
so between catching the breezes from the southeast and having the view there, the placement of the driveway for the shop/garage and the subdivision deed restrictions, we really didn't have many decisions to make....

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 7:47PM
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If you need a well and septic, you'll need a good-sized treeless space for them

We didn't. The well site just required a few trees to be removed and the same for the septic. I suppose it depends on the type of septic system you use.

A local architect should be really helpful in determining the optimal orientation for energy efficiency.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 9:53PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Depending on how involved the town is in your building process, we needed approval from the town engineer for where our driveway could meet the street. That is another consideration for siting the house.

Also, water is a consideration. If you are having a basement, if there's a way to allow gravity to drain curtain drains around the basement, more's the better. Nothing worse than having the power go out during a major storm so the sump won't work while the basement is flooding...

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 7:23AM
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Great points all around. If energy efficiency is a concern you should take the time to make the best out of your site and unfortunate orientation plans. Either architect or builder could be good choices as long as they are well versed in the impacts of Western and Northern exposures. Some people are much better than others at this sort of design. Its going to be a tough balancing act regardless.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:06AM
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Interesting question, I am thinking on my future build with a small ranch house and barn behind ... was just talking to the guy that will build the barn.

I envision the house in front, with septic in front of the house. Small backyard. Barn behind the yard. Driveway up to the house/garage on the right of the house, with a split that goes around the house to the right, back to the barn. I need hay delivered, so need access to the barn.

The back part of the property will be pasture for my donkeys.

That's my "vision"! LOL! Will be speaking to an architect this week ...

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:10PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

While a well may be closer to trees, both digging and maintaining a septic system would suggest nearby trees are not good...tree roots love the water they find in sewer lines and are great at blocking them up.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 8:32PM
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