Why site orientation is key

Why site orientation is key

How correctly sighting a house on a block is beneficial for everyone.

Often a home buyer purchases a vacant block of land and then searches for a house design that suits their lifestyle, exceeds their expectations, and looks great – essentially, their dream home. Yet the process is fraught with danger, unless you know what to look out for.

In far too many cases, a house design that appears to be terrific, may not actually be well suited to the buyer’s needs at all. In fact, without modification, the dwelling could end up costing them a small fortune in energy bills to stay comfortable all year round. And that’s why site orientation is so important.

In New South Wales, every new home must comply with BASIX, the Building Sustainability Index Assessment. This assessment is aimed at reducing the amount of water usage for the house or unit, working out how much energy will be needed to maintain a comfortable environment for those living within it – referred to as ‘thermal comfort’, and determining the carbon footprint of the home.

When sighting a new home it is important to maximise what can be optimised, starting with getting the most sun during the Winter months to warm the house, as well as reducing the amount of hot sun during the Summer months. This, along with the type of external and internal building materials used, has a huge impact on occupant comfort and energy use.

“The best way to explain thermal comfort is how comfortable the home will be to live in by either eliminating or reducing the need for artificial cooling and heating systems like air conditioning and heaters,” explains Ian Fry, Principal of Frys Energywise.

“BASIX provides two methods to achieve a pass for thermal comfort,” explains Ian. “A D.I.Y. method and simulation, with simulation offering far more flexibility in achieving a more cost effective and better performing home. The CSIRO-engineered and government-approved thermal software system can only be operated by an accredited thermal assessor in NSW. In fact, the fee for an assessment by a thermal assessor is usually less than the cost of just one improved window, which is a likely outcome from the DIY method.”

“In terms of energy use, correctly sighting a home is the single most important aspect of finalising plans to build a new house,” adds Mr Fry. “When this is done right, architects and builders will benefit from a far quicker path to compliance, and the end-user will enjoy comfortable living with low energy bills, so everyone wins.”

BASIX was introduced in 2004 by the NSW Government and forms part of the Planning legislation in NSW. It is mandatory for every new house and unit. The code also applies to renovations to an existing dwelling where the value exceeds $50,000 and all swimming pools and spas when included with a new home or for a size exceeding 40,000 litres in water capacity when it is being assessed separately.

Frys Energywise can be contacted on (02) 9899 2825 for advice and to carry out a BASIX assessment within the greater Sydney area. The company can be emailed at comply@frysenergywise.com.au.

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