If looking to build an energy efficient home, it is important to buy a block of land that will suit your preferred home design and allow you to build to take advantage of passive heating and cooling (or be prepared to design your home to suit your land – this is the best option). The ideal block of land will allow for your living areas to have maximum North facing windows to take advantage of the Winter sun. It is also important that these Northerly windows will be unshaded. We recommend a block which runs lengthways East/West and ideally has garage frontage at the West end. This type of land together with the right home design should allow for plenty of North facing roof area for solar panels to be placed upon. Solar access, shade patterns, cooling breezes and air movement (micro-climate) are all key factors to consider when deciding if a preferred land site is the ideal location.
Another important factor before purchasing your land is to be aware of the building and planning regulations of your desired site. Local council laws, land covenants and planning issues could cause you to have to give consideration to and build to accommodate fire and flood hazards, solar panel placement restrictions and specific building material requirements.
The land itself will be an important consideration as there are many factors directly associated to the site that will affect the cost of building your home. Though these factors are not directly related to improving energy efficiency, they are certainly very important as not being aware of the implications of these factors can mean you will have to deal with some very expensive building practices to overcome the wrong land choice. Please consider the soil classification and layout of the site. A site with a considerable slope or fall or one with a problem soil classification will require additional costs to engineer the correct footings for your home or perhaps even require landfill or levelling. Of course the less you need to do to your site to have it suitable to build your home, the more cost effective it will be and the less impact your building process will have on the environment.
Please give as much consideration as you can to the choice of your land. Once you have made your choice and purchased YOUR ideal site, you are ready to start designing your home. For energy efficiency, you’ll need the best passive design for your site. I’ll begin to cover the passive design process in my next blog.