Look on the bright side (which way is that again?)
Questions you should ask about the orientation of your potential new home
‘North-facing’ is a well-worn description in real estate, but not all north facing claims are made equal. Here are some questions to ask that can have a real impact on a home’s liveability – and value.
1. What part of the house is actually north-facing?
North-facing brings little benefit if it refers to the façade of the home, especially in a traditional cottage with little connection to the front of the block. Conversely, a north-facing yard makes the most of all-day sunshine, particularly if it connects to the living space via glass doors or large windows.
2. What else might affect my sunlight?
The joys of a north-facing rear will not amount to much if it’s overshadowed by tall buildings and trees, or in a low sloping area. In these cases, the yard may be filled with sunlight in the summer months, when the sun is high in the sky, but could become gloomy come winter. Be aware of how the sun changes at different times of the year, and different times of the day. Open houses will probably coincide with the time of day when the home is at its best. Get the full picture by arranging your own inspections for morning, midday and afternoon.
3. How will the aspect impact my power bill?
The CSIRO’s ‘Liveability’ list has orientation as one of the 17 aspects of a home that impact on comfort, efficiency and enjoyment. A living area that faces between 20 degrees west and 30 degrees east of true north, is ideal, reducing the need for additional heating and cooling. Real estate floor plans will usually have orientation on them, and a compass app on your phone will help you get a feel for it during inspections.
4. What’s happening next door?
Be aware of any work underway, or planned, on neighbouring blocks. Almost all Sydney councils require a shadow diagram to accompany any development submissions above one storey, revealing the impact on sunlight to neighbouring properties.
5. Can you improve the aspect of a home?
If your orientation isn’t ideal, you will need to get creative to make the most of its aspect. Work out which rooms get the most light and try to zone your rooms accordingly. Awnings and external shutters can help control what light comes in when and a skylight or solar tube can transform a dark room by ‘borrowing’ light from elsewhere. To keep heat in, curtains with pelmets are the best option. If a renovation is on the cards, consult your architect before you buy, to find out what’s possible.
How does your property rank on the liveable scale? Contact us for a free liveability appraisal of your home or investment. Or take a look at this blog for some simple tricks to make your home more comfortable and sustainable.
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