Remember I told you we were originally going to buy a 5-acre block of land in the mountains, but that fell through? We were so sure we were going to buy that block that we had a house designed all planned out. A simple, rectangular house with a single-pitch roof, bullnose verandahs and open living areas. That land is flat and in a different environment/climate than the central west where we’re heading. We didn’t need to take into account views, winds or particular sun angles because of the lay of the land.
Now, we have a hillside block – freezing in Winter, windy in Spring, hot in Summer, mild in Autumn. There’s a view, an uneven slope, and a lot of rock to contend with. However, we still really love that original design we came up with. It’s a sensible design (boring rectangle uses fewer building materials than fancy shapes) and very family-friendly (central access to bedrooms & bathroom & big open living areas leading outside). So we just wanted to adjust it a little to suit.
We (well, I) have also been reading up on solar passive home design, because if we’re going to be responsible for all of our own power we should really reduce how much of it we’ll need. The main principles of solar passive design are to use high thermal mass materials in the floor and walls (to capture heat in winter), to have most windows facing north or south (again to capture low winter from the north and to avoid too-hot westerly sun), to have eaves over the windows (to shut out hot summer sun) and to have lots of ventilation.
Ok, so. This is my hilarious, absolutely not to scale, Paint version of the plan.
It’s okay, Captain Housebuilder is better at plans than me…
We have all the bedrooms facing south overlooking the view (I didn’t want arguments over which child got the best view!). That’ll avoid them getting any hot summer sun too. The living room has big windows facing north and very small windows facing west. We can’t really avoid having some windows on the west, because that will be the entrance to the property. Those three windows will be tall narrow ones like this…
That’s what the house will look like as you come up the driveway. We like the old-fashioned churchy look of it.
Oh, except there’ll be covered verandahs on both long sides. And the garage over there on the left. We will also put deciduous trees in front of those westerly windows to further cut out heat in summer.
It’s a shame that the garage will be blocking some of the nice winter sun, but with the slope of the land and the rocks at the homesite we couldn’t have it at one end of the house as originally planned. It shouldn’t matter too much – it’s only blocking the bathroom, laundry and media room (which will only have a small window) anyway.
The main bedroom will have views over both south and east, and I’m planning a private little garden of my very own just outside that eastern door. I’m looking forward to relaxing in a nice big bath looking across my garden to the hills.
The biggest change we had to make was to abandon the plan to build on a concrete slab – the ground is just far too rocky (and a bit too slopey). The excavation needed would be crazycakes. So we’re going to have steel pillar thingies (technical term!), set in concrete, and timber floors. That means less thermal mass, but good underfloor insulation should make up for that. Plus, the walls will be made of a high-tech new type of mud brick which has an extremely high insulating (and fire-safety) rating and will hopefully keep the place at a perfect temperature year-round.
Now, all we have to do is build it! Shame we can’t just click our fingers and twitch our noses… but speaking of building it, Noel spoke to the bank yesterday and everything’s looking good… we can just get building! ….ahaha, sounds so easy – I could make a long list of things that need sorting before we can actually start! However it’s exciting to know this is going to be possible -dream home might actually be really going to happen!
Rock star happy dance!
Okey doke… apologies if this one’s a bit all over the place! I’m tired, it’s late, I’m excited about my pretty future home and now I’m a little distracted by happy Gerard there.🙂
‘night, lovely readers…