What to consider when designing your new home – part 2

  1. Part 1
  2. Part 2
  3. Part 3

Building Orientation

In Australia and the Southern hemisphere, 12.00 O’clock midday is in the North while in the Northern hemisphere 12.00 O’clock midday is in the South.

When building in Australia the perfect orientation for constructing your home and other structures is that the main rooms are facing north because in winter your main home rooms should receive the winter sun to warm your home and less need for heaters. The problem with new home buyers is that the view from the home is important to them. It is important to have a middle ground regarding the placement of your new home on your property.

It is advised that a front covered veranda would shade the North and West orientation from the harsh summer sun when facing North and West in Australia. The covered veranda structure will keep the home cool in summer and keep the warmth in winter as it allows the low winter sun to warm up the rooms through the low set north and west-facing windows.


The veranda became popular in Australia around the late 1790’s – early 1810. They were introduced by colonial soldiers and free colonials that have seen and experienced the veranda during their travels to the West Indies and India. Today the veranda is still a great place to relax, sleep and entertain to keep out of the heath of the day during our hot summer. Many verandas were converted into bedrooms if the need arises to increase the size of the family and home. This occurred during the late 1880’s up to the time that councils started to raise revenue and made it compulsory to report your intentions to lodge a DA and CC. (Development Application & Construction Certificate).

I have come up to many older homes that had a covered rear veranda converted into a bedroom or rooms that was built a long time ago and never was approved by the local council. You will get unstuck when you want to sell that home and the client’s solicitor or conveyancing agent find out that that covered veranda was never approved by the council. Council will insist that the structure be drawn up and submitted to the council for approval.

Solid Walls And Glass In Windows

It is recommended that in winter, walls facing the North and West are constructed of a solid mass such as brick or concrete. While these solid walls are facing the sun in winter they will warm up during the day and radiate warmth throughout the home. These walls will take some time to cool down and this will reduce time to warm up your home in winter with an electric or wood-fired heater and this should reduce also your power bill. In summer these solid walls will take some time to warm up after the cool night and in most cases will stay cool during the day because of the shielding of the veranda or other shade structures built around your home.

Glass windows facing the north and west must be of a high-quality aluminium or timber/cedar structure. They must be totally sealed around the wall frame with no gaps or openings. Most of your heat loss or gain into your home is through your windows and doors. It is therefore very important that good quality aluminium or cedar windows and timber doors are installed professionally.

The glass of the windows is a very critical item and must be observed as per specifications and in NSW the Basix requirements. Glass in windows comes in forms and specifications by architects and building designers. Double glazing to single glazing with a specific coating to keep the heat and cold out of your home. The windows with specified glass facing North, West, South or East can have different glass to suit the orientation of the home. The windows size is also a very important item. Stay with the recommended specified size and don’t make changes unless approved by your architect or building designer. If you make changes without the approval of your designer the house will be either too hot or too cold to live in.

Doors are also an important item to consider. It is recommended that all exterior doors to be solid with a rubber bottom seal attached this makes the door seal proof provided that the door has no gaps to let the air in. Interior doors can be of the core variety and would help if they have the same or similar rubber seal on the bottom of the door.

Orientation is an important item that could make you fry in summer or freeze in winter and on top of that a hefty increase in power energy bills if the orientation of your home was neglected.