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How to position the house on the plot?

by | Jun 6, 2022 | Pre-build preparations | 0 comments

Positioning the house on the plot is finding the most optimal place and orientation in relation to the natural aspects and in relation to the urban aspects, which will allow the compromise of mutually opposed design requirements, and, in addition to all that, also meets the legal regulations. The goal is to place the house towards the street in such a way that the positive impacts are maximized, and the negative ones are minimized. We will talk about all of this and give you the ultimate house positioning guide in the text that follows.

What are the natural aspects that affect the positioning of the house?

What are the natural aspects that affect the positioning of the house

The natural aspects that affect the positioning of the house are the direction of the south (in the northern hemisphere), or north (in the southern hemisphere), the predominant direction of local winds and the shadow of the nearby hills and mountains.

These are key aspects of positioning the house on extremely large plots because in such cases there are almost no legal and urban barriers. Of course, such plots can be found in rural areas or in elite settlements of large cities that are not accessible to the majority of the population.

What are the urban aspects that affect the positioning of the house?

Urban aspects that affect the positioning of the house on the plot are divided into two groups. The first group includes those that are regulated by law, and the second group includes those that represent the legacy of quality construction.

The law specifies the following: floor area ratio (FAR), street and building line, propagation of underground installations, and distance from the neighbor’s house (other legal restrictions affect the construction and design of the house but not the positioning and orientation itself).

In order to achieve good orientation and positioning of the house, one should also take into account the following: noise sources (inns, industrial and commercial facilities, traffic…), sources of pollution (dust, rainwater floods, garbage…), shading from tall objects, shielding yourself from the view from the outside and allowing yourself a good view from the house. There are also security issues!

How to orient and position the house towards the street?

How to orient and position the house towards the street?

The house needs to be positioned and oriented towards the street in a way that will balance all natural and urban impacts with the aim of maximizing the potential that the plot has, and on the other hand, amortizing the shortcomings. In essence, it is necessary to give the best possible answers to a number of questions, listed below, that represent the challenges of construction, and the end result of the process is optimal position and orientation of the house. The questions are listed in order of priority (starting from the most important).

The ultimate house positioning guide

1. How to comply with the legislation when positioning a house?

The first step in designing each house is to determine its position (determine how much plot area the house can occupy and where on the plot that area can be located) and the first thing to do when determining the position is that it meets Site Conditions. Local authorities define Site Conditions.

From the standpoint of positioning the house, what interests you are floor area ratio (FAR), street and building line, propagation of underground installations and distance from the neighbor’s house. Therefore, in the first step, we determine the maximum volume space allowed by law and its position on the plot, which we can use to build a house. Once we have determined this we move on to the next step…

2. How to protect the house from pollution by orienting?

Within the given spatial volume in which we design the house, it is very important on which side the bedrooms will be facing, and on which side the living room or auxiliary rooms. It is necessary to determine where potential sources of pollution come from and what they impact the most.

If you find that traffic noise is present continuously then it is better to turn the living area towards the street, because then the sleeping area will be protected and you will have better sleep. If traffic noise is present only during the day, then it is better to turn the sleeping area towards the street and thus protect the living area during the day. Noise can also be caused by nearby industrial facilities, shops or inns. it does not necessarily have to come from the direction of the street, but the orientation of the living and sleeping area should follow the same logic as when it comes to traffic.

The next source of pollution to be considered is dust. It can come from the direction of a busy street but also from the direction of a warehouse or similar source of pollution. If turning the “blind” side of the house in that direction is not feasible then we must conceive a way to protect ourselves. A hedge or an enclosed fence are the simplest options.

After considering the potential pollutants, we move on to the next step.

3. How to orient the house towards the Sun to make the most of it?

The house (within the limits of what is possible, and we wrote about the limitations in the previous steps) should be oriented in relation to the direction of the Sun in a way that will allow maximum use of passive heating in winter, minimize the greenhouse effect in summer and to have enough light in the house always.

As a general rule, we can say that part of the house with large glass surfaces (and this is most often the living room) should be turned to the south (in the northern hemisphere, or to the north in the southern hemisphere), in order to maximize the effect of passive heating in the winter.

This effect is negative in summer and we need to protect the house from it. One way is definitely setting up blinds or shutters. Here we must note that only external blinds are effective. But there is also a smarter solution! Due to the Sun’s lower angle in the wintertime and higher angle in the summertime, it is better to install external shading, such as retractable awnings, louver canopies, deciduous trees or vegetated pergolas to help minimize overheating in summer, but let sun in during the winter.

Local climatic characteristics define the number of sunny days during the year and thus the total average insolation. We need this information, on one hand, to determine the required area of the window that will be able to illuminate the rooms enough, but on the other hand, to decide also, is it even worth orienting the house towards the sun at all.

The Sun is not the only natural influence that makes the orientation of the house important.

How to orient the house towards the Sun to make the most of it

4. How to orient the house towards the wind?

A properly oriented house should provide protection from the negative effects of strong winds, but also the use of the positive effects of breezes.

Nowadays, it is not difficult to determine the prevailing direction of wind blowing during the year at a location. There are a number of professional, but also free ones, programs that you can download from the Internet that give you the answer to this question. It is important to know that the prevailing wind direction is influenced not only by climatic factors but also by orography in rural areas or massive objects in urban areas.

The house should be sheltered from strong winds by some auxiliary building or dense and tall vegetation, if possible. If not, then it is necessary to minimize the effective impact area of the house. Therefore, in that case, it’s better to have a ground floor than a two-story house, it is better to turn the narrow side of the house in that direction… The surface of the windows is better to be reduced on that side of the house and of course, protected with shutters.

However, the breeze, especially in the summer, is a very desirable ally for cooling the house, and efficient ventilation is required throughout the year. Therefore, it is wise to orient the house in the direction of these weak currents, and we can effectively influence their direction by arranging the seedlings of vegetation in the yard.

5. How to make the house safe when positioning it?

Keeping in mind the security aspects, a few simple things need to be done when positioning and orienting the house:

  • The main entrance to the house should always be well lit and visible.
  • The house should have at least two separate entrances on different sides.
  • The side entrance should not be visible, and should have an open exit to a side street or neighbor’s yard.

There are a huge number of active and passive security devices and systems that protect your house from burglars but we will not deal with that here.

6. How to provide privacy by orienting a house?

You need privacy from unwanted curious looks from the outside, but your neighbors also need it from you! After you have properly positioned and oriented the house by following the steps above, you need to check if such a plan is compromising someone’s privacy. If so, try to adjust the plan a bit, and if that is not an option, use some of the usual ways to provide the necessary privacy:

  • Make a nontransparent fence.
  • Landscape along the property line.
  • Build a shed or garage.
  • Tint window panels.
Should you incorporate elements of traditional architecture

7. Should you incorporate elements of traditional architecture?

The last step of this process is more emotional than rational in nature. If traditional architecture is not mandatory, and the optimal solution conflicts with the traditional one, we need to ask ourselves what our priorities are.

It is almost unthinkable to build a house in the south of the United States without a front porch. Some people are committed to the rules of feng shui…
And that’s perfectly fine. Sometimes the feeling of coziness of your home is more significant than the actual energy efficiency of the house.

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