Your Guide to House Orientation

10 December 2020

You’ve decided to build a new home, so what’s the next step? As you start your journey, one of the most important factors to consider is the orientation of your block of land, and the positioning of your new home on it. House orientation refers to the positioning of your home in relation to seasonal variations in sun and wind. Good orientation, combined with other energy efficiency features, can reduce or even eliminate the need for heating and cooling, resulting in lower energy bills, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and a more comfortable living environment.

Tips for South East Queensland

In South East Queensland, we live in a very warm climate, so good orientation will allow better use of the sun’s path and natural breezes. As a general rule, you should minimise the walls of your house being exposed to the western sun, as this is where most of the heat comes from, and will make your house uncomfortably hot in summer. The best house orientation for natural light and energy efficiency is north, so active spaces like living, kitchen and dining areas should face north to take full advantage of this. If possible, windows should also face north – allowing light in, without overheating the house. Ask your home builder to work with you to achieve the best results.

Matching your home design to your block of land

When you’re looking for a block of land, use this simple guide to orientation to makes sure it’s suitable for the home design you have in mind.

North-South with a north-facing backyard

This is the most popular orientation. Ideally, you should position bedrooms at the front, and outdoor spaces and living areas towards the back of the house.

North-South with north-facing road frontage

Living and outdoor living spaces are best located towards the front of the house.

East-West with west-facing backyard

In summer, the western sun can be very hot, so make sure you have sufficient shading. Also, consider having a courtyard on the north side.

East-West with west-facing road frontage

Consider having a spare bedroom, study or second living space at the front of your home (as it will get hot in summer), and locate outdoor spaces on the north and east sides.

How to maximise passive cooling and heating

Passive heating and cooling refers to heating and cooling that doesn’t require a mechanical device. Ideally, you should choose a site with good orientation for your climate and build your home to maximise the site’s potential for passive heating and cooling.  In South East Queensland’s warm climate, we are more focused on looking for ways to maximise passive cooling. Of course, you can cool your home with air conditioning, but passive cooling can help slash your energy consumption, which means lower power bills.

Good orientation for passive cooling keeps out unwanted sun and hot winds, while ensuring access to cool breezes. On the east coast of Australia, cool breezes are generally north-easterly to south-easterly. Unlike sunlight, breezes can be diverted, so find a way to divert them through your home using fences, plants and windows that open widely.

Orientation for passive heating is about using the sun as a source of free home heating, by letting winter sun in and keeping unwanted summer sun out. Poor orientation and lack of appropriate shading can exclude winter sun and cause overheating in summer. Where possible, choose a site that can accommodate north-facing daytime living areas that flow on to covered outdoor spaces with a similar orientation.

Orientation Checklist

Here are some simple ways to take advantage of passive cooling and heating when you’re building a new home:

  • Position your home to take advantage of prevailing breezes
  • Use ventilation systems to allow cool air to enter and hot air to escape
  • Design open plan interiors with openable windows either side to improve cross-ventilation
  • Avoid west-facing bedrooms for sleeping comfort
  • Locate utility areas (laundries, bathrooms and garages) on the south or west where possible
  • Shade east and west-facing glass by adding structures such as a deep, covered balcony or alfresco area
  • Limit the number of south, east and especially west-facing windows
  • Make sure outdoor living areas are covered and have ceiling fans
  • Use generous overhanging eaves
  • Choose a home designed and built from materials that suit your climate
  • Avoid housing styles borrowed from different climates that may not work here
  • If required, ask your home builder if they will mirror or flip the home design to suit your desired orientation. Most builders will do this at no extra cost.
Use landscaping to cool your home

Try to take advantage of the natural landscape features of your location. If possible, orient your house to the direction where there are broad-leaved trees that can reduce heat and provide shade from intense summer heat. Or, if you’re in a new estate, plant shade trees in the right position on your block, so they will provide shade in the future. Explore ways you can use landscaping to funnel cool breezes and block or filter harsh winds. If you’re not sure how to do this, consult your local garden centre or landscape gardener.

Hallmark Homes is perfectly positioned to build your dream home

Nothing beats experience, and when it comes to building homes in South East Queensland, Hallmark have got you covered. With decades of local building knowledge and experience, we can provide expert advice on the best orientation for your new home. Recognised as one of South East Queensland’s most trusted builders, we truly understand the way we live here – and our unique range of contemporary home designs reflects this.

So, if you’re thinking of building a new home in South-East Queensland, our friendly team is ready to help. Come and visit one of our display centres for yourself or check out our virtual tours and house plans from the comfort of your own home. If you have any questions about our single storey, double storey, acreage, narrow lot home designshouse and land packages, or how you can take advantage of the government grants on offer, please contact us today.

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