Selecting the right block for you

Hi, I’m Rob the Builder and I’d like to explain why choosing the right block is the most important first step in building your dream home.

There are a lot of things to consider when purchasing a block, some are quite obvious; river or sea views. The location geographically will determine the cost differences. When considering two properties of similar calibre, one could be significantly better without you knowing and I’m going to tell you why. But, before I do this I want to explain something.

The sun in summer at maximum height is 81 degrees and in winter its lowest point is 34 degrees. I know you are thinking – how can this impact on how I choose which block? It’s simple; in summer you don’t want the sun coming in as it’s hot outside and you want to keep as much heat out as possible. However, in the winter it’s the opposite; it’s cold outside and you want as much natural warmth entering your home.  This can easily be achieved by professional design with the use of windows and eaves located correctly and not impacting on the class and style of your new home.

East and west facing properties are the best for this reason – if the block is longer down the northern side then you can achieve more area where the natural light and warmth can enter your home. Have you ever come home to a cold and dark home when it’s a sunny winter’s day? This is quite often down to poor design. North facing windows are not enough alone as the sun’s rays must enter your home to warm it passively.

North facing to the rear comes in third and has less potential for this principal to work. The morning and afternoon sun will be entering your home and make it harder to manage the heat and light passively between the seasons.

North facing to the front is the most challenging, especially for a single storey home. Unless the site is a corner block or has rear access, the front elevation is going to be dominated by a garage door. There is less potential to capitalise on window space to heat your home passively. However, this is not a hard and fast rule and building a two storey home in this scenario gives you more options. With more potential to include windows to the northern elevation, an upside down home with a north facing outlook, you can enjoy living areas facing the northern aspect.

So what’s better than an east or west facing block? East or west facing corner blocks give you a lot more options because you have the northern aspect facing the street and you don’t have overlooking issues, which means you can have any size of windows on the upper floor. If it’s elevated to the rear this will achieve a lot more street presence as well.

The challenge with any site is to get the most potential from each property. My opinion is the bigger the challenge, the bigger the trophy. I have designed homes that don’t meet any of the criteria I have provided above and still come out with a positive outcome. We have designed homes that fall away to the rear of the property and this is excellent for splitting levels through your home and achieving much higher ceiling levels to the living areas with little or no extra cost, because we have followed the topography of the block in lieu of expensive retaining.

The best thing to do is to get your potential builder/designer out to look at the block you are thinking of purchasing – if they want your business they will make the effort. If they can’t answer the basic principles that I have outlined above, the question you should be asking yourself is, are they worthy of designing your next home?

The most important point I can’t stress enough is get references. Ask plenty of questions, do your due diligence and make sure you have a professional giving you the right information in the purchase of your next property.

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