20 April 2022

House Orientation Guide: Why a North Facing House Is Optimal

Danielle Redford
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There’s no denying it. Home buying gets our emotional engines firing on all cylinders.

After shortlisting favourites and pencilling in inspections, you’ll begin showing up to several potential dream homes with hopes and hearts racing.

You’ve likely examined all but one important thing, though - the property’s orientation!

With each of a building’s sections fronting different directions, the key to securing a comfortable, long-term living space lies within its exposure to the elements.

Orientation is a criteria item rarely seen on priority lists of most open-house-goers, often paying for it later between seasonal changes.

Here’s everything to consider when buying or building to establish the perfect living arrangement for you. We’ll also delve into why a north-facing house could be where to start!

Property Types

A lack of natural light is generally a deal-breaker, with a property’s ability to utilise it largely dependent on its type.

A north-facing house collects and administers the sun’s heat most effectively, with the added benefit of conveniently shading it in summer.

Essentially a natural solar heater for those crisp winter months, houses feature a range of entry points for light. Apartments or townhouses, however, may only have two walls exposed, minimal smaller windows, and no roof (unless you’re on the top floor, of course).

Unfortunately, having limited orientational options is part of apartment-style living. However, it’s not as imperative to get it right as it is with houses. The view should be at number one on your priorities list, which we’ll discuss further along.

Location

Visiting an existing house multiple times at different stages of the day provides a key insight into where the sun shines and when. It’s also important to note what’s situated around the building and whether anything obstructs the breeze, sun, or other elements.

Geographical locations also play significant roles in how a home should be orientated. For example, southern states, including Tasmania or Victoria, would likely see you place a ‘north-facing house’ next to your very first checkbox.

Browsing the country’s topside, think about how those searing UVs turn dwellings into saunas pretty much all year round. Planting some trees or installing heavy-duty shade blinds on the north side would be the best combattant here.

The Advantages of Building a North Facing House

We’ve discussed how a north-facer can be a jackpot existing buy, but knowing what orientation achieves (especially when you get a say in it!), is a game-changing ace to play.

Deliberately constructing a north-facing house provides homeowners with a spectrum of advantages, including:

  • Maximising daylight

  • Increases heating and cooling efficiency

  • Increased privacy - Higher north side windows with shading at a 1:2 ratio provide homes with a trifecta of benefits; warmer in winter, cooler in summer, and more privacy!

  • Building stairwells facing north - Glass-enclosed stairwells adopt tonnes of natural light, dispersing radiant heat more effectively throughout the home.

  • Achieving those ideal angles - Suns beams into your home at 67 degrees during summer and 32 degrees in winter. Incorporating these figures into window positioning and overall designs makes all the difference between seasons regarding comfort levels and energy bills.

All Other Directions

Don’t let others sell you on a single direction, much less take the advice of ‘focus on the northside’.

While integrating north-facing benefits into your search is important, it’s not the only angle to ponder.

Most people want their yard areas on the north side for ideal gardening conditions. But did you ever contemplate what might be happening on the Eastern, Western, and Southern sides of the building or complex?

Your lifestyle also dictates how your home should be orientated. For example, working 9-5 hours in the city where you’ll likely use entertaining areas in the afternoons means a west facing yard might be on the cards.

That means your front door will face east, absorbing those A.M. rays, and a rethink about where the bedrooms are might be required!

Harnessing Light & Warmth to Reduce Energy Consumption

Most older homes weren’t built for energy-saving purposes, meaning considering how a house captures light to heat, it could make all the difference when those bills start to arrive.

We want to maximise light while simultaneously creating indirect, evenly distributed heat.

A north-facing house will likely provide the best of both worlds, eliminating those exorbitant costs throughout all months.

Tiled floors and concreted surfaces do the best job of encapsulating warmth, allowing thermal heat into the home in colder climates.

Views

If you’re lucky enough to find a property with an ocean view or build on elevated land, then the scenery could be your goldmine.

Building around the view is the smartest thing you can do, not only for the wow factor but financially.

Adding decks, removing walls, or just simply installing more glass or bigger windows places all the emphasis on the home’s surrounds.

Views add value, and opening up your house to them creates new levels of luxury that are also bound to boost the resell.

But you might not be so fortunate when it comes to older properties. Oftentimes, these can have original, bar-laden windows or feature walls where there shouldn’t be, requiring some hefty renovation work.

Is there anything else either currently impeding or about to obstruct views from other sides of the house? Finding out what’s next door or what the plans are for the area is crucial as you could be opening curtains to a brick wall instead of a million-dollar panorama in just a few short months!

Is a North Facing House Absolutely Necessary?

Not entirely, but it sure does fit the bill optimally for those looking to tick all the boxes!

House orientation preferences will always vary with each buyer or builder to their own.

But it’s essential to research and discover a home’s directional flaws and your favourite angles long before signing along that dotted line.

Deciding what you are or aren’t specifically keen on first saves you tonnes of time and hassle as a prospective homeowner.

It’s now time to call some agents with your newfound knowledge and a clear vision of what to make offers on!

Get amongst the market and happy hunting!

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