Opinions please on best direction a house should face
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Thread: Opinions please on best direction a house should face

  1. #1
    Junior Member Gilley's Avatar
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    Default Opinions please on best direction a house should face

    OK, I'm gonna have a house built, but I also have to pick out the lot. What's the best direction for a home to face (N,S,E,W) and why? Does it really matter? Pros and cons? The house will be in Florida. Here's the floorplan.

    First floor
    http://www.delucahomes.com/images/6HeronFP1.gif

    Second floor, where the master bedroom is at the back of the house
    http://www.delucahomes.com/images/6HeronFP2.gif



    Imbedded images changed to links, due to size - nhparrot

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    Supporter peid's Avatar
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    Since you live in FL I would have the garage be to the North.

    Early morning sun rise comes into the family room and bedrooms to make it easier to get up.

    Afternoon sun doesn't bake the bedrooms during the summer for cooler sleeping.

    In South Dakota, you ALWAYS want your garage to face the West. Otherwise your driveway never melts in the winter.

    Just my .02, but I don't live in FL.
    1996 T100, 203,000 and counting

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    Veteran Member Boone's Avatar
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    My thoughts also that the garage/front of the house should face North. In the winter time, you will have sunlight in your backyard and shine into your breakfast nook as well. Enjoy!

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    Veteran Member Buzzard's Avatar
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    I would do it different ---the hottest part of the day comes from the west. Your garage should face west. It would help insulate the rest of the house from the hot sun AND your patio would be shaded in the heat of the day. My patio faces kind of south/east and is comfortable in the afternoon. My neighbors patio (across the street) faces n/w and is useless except in the mornings when the sun is on the opposite side of the house. Its to hot to sit on in the afternoon when the sun is the hottest. If I lived in a cold climate I might try to take advantage of the warmth of the sun. In Florida as in Texas we are always trying to shade ourselfs from the sun. ---Buzzard

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    I agree, the kitchen should look to the east for early morning sun. In addition, the patio/deck would be shaded in the afternoon and make it much more pleasant.

    I recommended my in-laws get a "south facing" lot in Jersey a few years back and I heard nothing but complaints for several years. Luckily they're rather nomadic, so it didn't last too long. I mention this because I would be cautious about having rooms you use a lot during the day facing to the south as you may end up with a lot of solar heating in the winter months.

    Finally, while I was having my house built, I was "allowed" to go in and run telephone (single and/or dual line), cable, stereo, etc. wires throughout the house before it was finished. Anyone can run low voltage wiring, so it was a way for me to save a few bucks and add in all the extra outlets I wanted. Having phone and cable, etc. at two or more locations in a bedroom makes it easier to move things around if you ever get the whim. And having your stereo wired to play out on the deck is great for parties and just relaxing on lazy summer afternoons.

    Congratulations and good luck.

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    I'm working on new house plans as well and have been thinking about and researching this for years.

    I want the back of the house to face the south and have lots of glass so that I can take advantage of the solar effect from the sun when it is low in the winter. In the summer, the sun is high enough that a 1.5-2.0' eve will block the midday sun from hitting the windows.

    I want my breakfast area windows on the southeast corner of the house so that I can watch the sun come up in the morning while I drink my coffee and read the paper. The window over the kitchen sink will be facing east as well.

    Optimally, I would put the garage on the west side of the house to help block that hot afternoon sun from the main living part of the house. In my case, I have a large stand of red oaks and post oaks on the west side, so it doesn't matter that much, plus my driveway is along the east side of my future house. I'm going to end up putting the garage on the northeast corner of the house with the garage doors facing east.

    By the way, my house will be along the back line of my 52 acres overlooking the Arkansas River. Ain't life grand. And I found a fresh 5 point buck shed antler in my front yard yesterday afternoon. My black lab apparently found it and brought it to the house. That 10 point I saw roaming around my place apparently made it through the season. Maybe I'll get him next year when he is even bigger.

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    Junior Member Tundraholic's Avatar
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    I've dreamed about this for years, and wished and wanted so badly. The house needs to face away from the beach front: it really doesn't matter which compas direction. That way when you go out on the back patio and open a cool one sit back in the lounge chair you can enjoy your fine looking beach and surf. Maybe even putting some burgers on the BBQ. While sitting back you could admire your jet sky and 50 ft cruiser tied up it the dock running from your beach front.
    Ever been to the Cayman Islands ? I think the british have some type of control there.
    Any way......
    It would be even better if the beach front was on the leeward side of an island, but its hard to beat Florida.

    Tundraholic

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    Junior Member darth tundra's Avatar
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    Let me start by saying that I'm an architect, and much of what I learned in school and on the job relates to orientation in relation to environmental effects. Building orientation is a very important aspect of design for heating and cooling loads, and for daylighting.

    In general, buildings with a North-south orientation are much better at controlling heating and cooling. Your floor plan shows that your house is basically square, which means you get the same exposure on each side. Buildings that are more rectangular get, obviously, less exposure on the short side and more on the long. Everyone that posted here is concerned about the windows, which is a part of the puzzle. But the entire wall surface itself can become a solar collector if it faces into direct sunlight. Depending on the material of the wall, and its R-value (how well it insulates) you will get more or less heat gain through the wall.

    Before I go any farther, I think I need to talk about what to expect from each direction.

    North facing: Indirect lighting only. Sunlight will never directly hit a north facing wall.

    South: Greatest exposure. The south wall will get almost constant exposure from soon after sunrise to almost sunset. In the winter, greater exposure because the sun is lower.

    East: Exposure only in the mornings. Great warming potential early.

    West: Exposure only in the evenings. Nice to get west sun coming in on a cold winter evening.

    In the winter, the sun rises to the north of due east, travels at a low angle across the sky, (less than 30 degrees in Los Angeles in December) and sets to the north of due west. the earth is actually closer to the sun in the winter than in the summer, but because of the tilt of the earth's axis, the sun rays are hitting the surafce of the earth at a steeper angle, and thus do not have the same heating power. The atmosphere reflects some of the UV out into space rather than letting it through to the surface.

    In the summer, the sun rises south of due east, travels at a high arc across the sky (almost 80 degrees in Los Angeles in June) and sets south of due west. The tilt of the earth on axis allows the UV light to hit the atmosphere at nearly straight on, so the UV penetrates to the surface, making it warmer.

    So what does this all mean? (I could go on, but I'm sure there are a few that stopped reading already!)

    Which way to face your house? Primarily, you want a north-south orientation. If you have a lot of glass on a wall, you really should face that wall north and get great indirect lighting or have overhangs designed to block summer sun from entering those windows if they must face south. In your case, you have a patio in your plans, on the wall which seems to have the most windows. If you face that wall north, your patio will always be in the shade. You wouldn't even need a patio cover except for rain. If you face that wall south, which I think you should in your case, make sure the wall is well insulated, that the windows are high performance dual-glazed low-e, and that you have overhangs long enough to block summer sun, but short enough to allow winter sun to get in. (An architect could calculate this length for you by getting your location)

    You are going to get good natural light into the upper bedrooms 2 and 3 and the bonus room. Bedroom 4 is going to warm up in the morning. Good in winter, bad in summer! The dining and living room downstairs will do the same. The only way to protect east/west exposures is to have vertical 'fins' designs to block sunlight at the right times, much like an overhang.

    Ok, I've rambled enough, and I'm obviously pretty into my work. If you have any other questions, you can PM me and I'll be glad to answer them......for a small fee! j/k! Let me know if there is anything else!

    DT

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    My house faces north and I live in Florida, just south of Tampa. My old house faced the east, that pretty much sucked. My current house has the garage, living room and headboard part of Master bedroom facing north. My pool is also on the south, which is perfect for keeping it a tolerable temp in the summer. My house stays cool in the summer and warm enough in winter. But I have to pressure wash the front every 5 months or so. Lack of any sunlight makes it favorable for mold and mildew growth.

    I never even considered direction when I bought, I think I got lucky though, otherwise I'd never use the pool.

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    Junior Member Gilley's Avatar
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    Wow, what a great writeup Darth Tundra. That info was great. The neighborhood is a little unique as all the lots back up to the woods or to a lake. If the house faced east but backed up to woods on the west side, then some of the afternoon sun would be blocked by the trees. But, those lots are mostly already gone. Also, the homes will be faily close together so a north-south orientation will be shaded some on the east and west, especially if the home next door is 2 floors high. Here is the layout of the subdivision. The current development is the south -easternmost section with the lot numbers. The lots in the cul-de-sac are already taken. Does this change the analysis?
    http://www.delucahomes.com/images/4W...dLakesSite.gif

    Here's a link for a larger pic.
    Larger pic

    Imbedded image change to link due to size - nhparrot

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    Default Good info

    My house faces West.

    Pros:
    Get to veiw the sunsets
    My back yard is cool during hot summer days for BBQs
    No southern sun to heat my house.

    Cons:
    Gets hot during the summer days
    My backyard is sometimes too cold for BBQs

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    Junior Member darth tundra's Avatar
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    I think lots 22 to 27 would be very nice. North/south orientation, lake view to the south. You will need some type of overhang or window protection on those south windows for the summer. You are right, your east/west exposure will be reduced because of the neighboring houses.

    Nice neighborhood! Good luck on getting a choice lot!

    DT

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    Veteran Member Buzzard's Avatar
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    Very nice neighborhood. Couple of thing im sure you already know but might be worth mentioning. When they install your outside AC unit have them put in a spot thats shaded from the heat of the day. Im told it will be a little more effecient if you can keep it out of the sun. Sometimes the contractors do it the easy way rather than the best.
    Also use ridge vents with plenty of soffet vents (if you can, make the soffets continuous). When they insulate the attic, make sure they dont push (or blow) the insulation so far out to the edge of the roof that it covers up the circulation from the soffets to the ridge. ------Buzzard


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