Direction/Position of the house?

TammyTEOctober 14, 2012

We think we know the way the house will be situated but I would love opinions here.:)

The house will sit on 90 acres. The road is to the North. There are trees to the West. Corn/Bean field to the East.

The driveway is about 1/4 mile long-ish.

We think we would like it to sit at an angle facing North/East. Thinking this would alleviate the mossy gunk that ends up on the north side of the house. ;-) Also thinking this would provide more light into windows more often throughout the day.

The front of the house has living room and master bedroom.

Back of the house has kitchen, dining and then a school room off the back about 15 feet. The garage is off the West end of the house.


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We live in the Midwest and our house faces north. We did this on purpose as I wanted a ton if light in the living areas which face south. This is a new build and I hope I don't regret it during the summer with the sun. For this time of year I love it. Our study is in the front and we have a covered porch there and it's dark but I new that going in.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 3:05AM
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It depends somewhat upon your geographic location, and what potential views you might have. We are building in the deep South, so A/C is the main concern. We angled our home so that no walls are dead north, as that has a cold feel, and the aforementioned moss/mildew. Our view is to the north, so the back of the house faces northeast, and gets nice morning sun. The hot (southwest) front of the house is shaded by a porch across much of the exposure, and the northwest side is blocked largely by an attached garage.

In the summer, the sun is much more over head, so solar gain is minimized to the south and more pronounced to the east and west. In winter, when the sun is lower in the sky, your southern windows may get some welcome solar gain.

There are also things you can do to help, such as high or low solar gain windows, depending upon what you are after, larger (or smaller) roof overhangs, porches, pergolas, and awnings, and last but not least, trees. Deciduous trees provide shade in the summer, but allow sunlight through in the winter.

The slope of our property and the direction of the best view guided our orientation and room placement. The fact that it is also well-suited to an A/C climate was a bonus. Our house is over-built and over-insulated for our climate, so it should be very cheap to heat and A/C.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 6:39AM
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The naval observatory has a website that will tell you the angle and altitude of the sun at your location throughout the day for any day of the year. It helped us decide what angle we wanted our house to point.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sun or Moon Altitude/Azimuth Table

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 8:48AM
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For buildings in the northern hemisphere, the old passive solar principle is for the long elevations to be oriented to the south and north, with the short elevations oriented to the east and west.

This is because the sun is in the south for most of the day. In summer, the sun is high and roof overhangs, wall set back, and trellis/pergolas all prevent direct sun from directly hitting the walls and entering the building through the walls. In the winter the sun is low and can hit the walls and enter the house for passive heating. These summer-winter angles are well known and can easily be figured into the design of a building to allow "cooling" in the summer and "warming" in the winter.

North light is a mixed blessing. It is appreciated and sought by artists and others needing relatively constant illuminaton levels throughout the day, without any direct light. Unfortunately, north is a common direction for cold weather storms in many parts of the northern hemisphere, which leads, in turn, to a reduction in the number and size of windows.

The sun cannot effectively be managed on east and (in particular) west directions (the sun is too low to control), so orienting the smallest elevations in these directions is a strategy to minimize the sun's impact on the building.

Of course this model does not take into account local conditions such as views, terrain features, and the like.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 9:57AM
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For us, we definitely took into account bad weather conditions (wind/snow/rain/etc.) --- where does the wind normally come from, when it is bad? It can howl here for months on end. People said "oh, the wind always comes from X direction in the Winter." Unfortunately, that wasn't correct. Fortunately, we had a year to observe the weather on the lot before we bought it.

So, if you don't know all the details, I think your best bet is talking to the neighbors. I am sure the sun orientation rules always apply, but there are other variables they would be privy to.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 10:13AM
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Oh wow. I will have to give this info to dh. He has more of a mind for this type of thing. ;-) I will check out that link though, that should help!

He knows this land very well. It's been in his family all his life. I am familiar with it of course but honestly not paid much attention. He has camped, hunted and farmed it.

The back yard is surrounded by trees on the east, south and west sides. The north side would be the house. It's hard to say how big the yard is. Everything looks so small out there with no actual building on site. I think the whole clearing might be about 3 acres?

Here's a rough plan on the main level if that helps.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 2:26PM
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Tammy, why do you have what appears to be a bedroom in the middle of the back wall of the house, cutting off views from the space to the left of the kitchen?

Why not just slide the bedroom all the way to the left so that it's left wall aligns with the house left wall, maximizing the views?

In another thread, you ask about a two-story entry and your stair. I agree that this area is oddly proportioned and the direction and size of the stair make the space almost unusable. Any chance to restudy that area?

Good luck with your project.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 9:42AM
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Thanks Virgil. Should I have just one thread about the plan? I wasn't sure so I just started based on what I was asking about.

That room is the school/play room. (We home school.) It's not off the end because dh wants a walk out basement and he is concerned about the way it will be near the retaining wall.

I want the school room near the kitchen because I spend 80-90% of my awake time in those two area of the house or walking between them. ;-)

I am open to most anything! The builder basically took a plan I had done to fit a module home builder's regulations and had me look at some exterior pics. I chose one and he made a footprint of what he thought would fit our budget and work with the general plan. I have been tweaking ever since.

How would you do the stairs? The thing I do like about them is that they open to the rear of the house. I find that convenient. Otherwise I don't have much of a connection with it.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 12:49AM
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