So, you’ve secured a block of land and now you’re tasked with finding the perfect home design. When we look at floor plans online, we’re often drawn to designs that suit our lifestyle without considering if they suit our block. As we move toward National Construction Code 2022 (NCC 2022) and the associated 7-star requirements, it will become increasingly important to choose a design that complements the orientation of your block to assist with its energy efficiency.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to designing for your block, but it’s much easier when you’re equipped with the right tools and information to make smart, considered design choices; that’s where we come in.
So, what exactly is block orientation, and why is it so important?
Put simply, block orientation means which way your block faces – North, East, South or West. And why is this so important? Because by understanding your block orientation you can choose a home design that harnesses the natural advantages of your site.
34% of an average home’s energy usage is a result of heating and cooling. A further 11% is a result of artificial lighting. Designing a home that works with your block orientation goes a long way in maximizing winter sunlight to help heat up and light your home in the cooler months so you don’t have to flick a switch. This is commonly referred to as passive heating.
In addition to solar benefits, proper planning allows you to harness the cooling properties of air. If you know the direction of prevailing winds you can align doors and windows to allow breezes to flow through your home. This is referred to as cross ventilation and it is a form of passive cooling.
A properly oriented home is more comfortable and energy-efficient and will ultimately save you money. Whilst a lot of things in your home can be changed after it’s built, orientation is not one of them, so it’s important to get it right the first time around!
We know it’s important, but how do we achieve it?
The most important thing to consider is northern exposure. The north side of your home will receive the most winter sunlight, so ideally, your main living areas should be positioned on this side.
Conversely, southern boundaries are exposed to low hours of sunlight during the winter months and therefore, this side of the home is best suited to bathrooms and laundries.
Due to summer heat, west-facing rooms are best utilised as spaces that are unoccupied during the day, like bedrooms or the garage. The severity of the afternoon sun can be filtered out with good landscaping. Plant deciduous trees on the west side to provide shade in Summer but let the light through in Winter.
East brings the morning light so is perfect for your kitchen, dining room or home office.
For cros-ventilation, position openable windows in line with prevailing winds. You can get a sense of this by observation on your block, speaking to neighbours or through the Bureau of Meteorology website.
Can I alter a Sienna Homes floor plan to better suit my block?
Yes! If you’ve found a home design you love but know it could be improved to better suit your block orientation, we are happy to accommodate your changes.
Our floor plans can be mirrored to suit crossover requirements or improve passive heating and cooling. Alfresco’s can be added or increased, and we also allow you to increase window and door sizes or even add them if there’s space. An increasingly popular addition is skylights, which are a highly effective way to increase natural light whilst also adding a striking design element to your home.
Sienna Homes also have a growing number of designs to suit different block orientations. Speak to a Sienna Homes new homes consultant for more information.
In the end it’s bit of give and take…
Achieving the best home design for your block is all about striking a balance. You may choose to compromise on energy efficiency to take advantage of views or to ensure the home design is going to work for your lifestyle.
It’s okay to do this, and there are other things you can do to improve your homes energy efficiency that won’t affect the structural design. Some additional things you might like to consider include:
- Solar panels
- Double glazing
- Increased insulation
- Ceiling heights
- Building materials such as hebel render, roofing and sarking
- Roof ventilators
- Heating and cooling systems
- Hot water systems
- Water tanks
- Ceiling fans
- Flooring choice
- Water saving shower heads, taps and toilets
- Cooking appliances