Ask The Architect
SAMPLE QUESTION & ANSWER
I'm thinking of designing my own house and have already purchased a plot of land which faces north to the street. How do I go about orienting the house to the neighbourhood to provide us with maximum sunlight and privacy?
THE ARCHITECT REPLIES:
I take it you're in the northern hemisphere. Ideally the house should face south to enjoy maximum sunlight. This situation demands a 'back to front' approach relative to the street which will also provide maximum privacy. I suggest you position your house closest to the street as permitted by your municipal authority's zoning code. You can either erect a boundary wall to enclose this front [street] area for even more privacy. Or some neat fencing to demarcate the boundary of your property. This area could become garden or lawn. If fenced, this area will be your 'face' to the neighbourhood and you'll need some kind of walling at the house to hide plumbing and drainage pipes etc which inevitably find their way there. You really don't want to present that view to the neighbourhood. This wall should be decorative background to that garden. The remaining area on the other side of the house is yours to do with what you wish; more garden or pool or patios? Whatever. Your personal choice will solve this requirement and the wall will assure you of privacy.
This situation also allows for direct access from the street to your garages.
This information should start you thinking. "Ask the Architect" is here to help so if you require further free guidance, contact me and provide more details of your plot of ground, its dimensions and topography, the accommodation you require. Anything that you consider relevant. Thanks for your question.
EMail "Ask the Architect" at [email protected]
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We want to add another floor to our house. What do you advise? Concrete or timber? We'd go for concrete but it's such a mess. Please advise
THE ARCHITECT SUGGESTS:
Your present house should guide your final choice. It might be wrong to introduce a concrete slab in a situation that doesn't welcome it. If you go for concrete, I suggest you opt for full length precast "planks" which are positioned by a mobile crane. Naturally, the house should be prepared to receive them. The advantages are less mess, it is quick and neat and easy. I would go for a system with the least amount of units. Ideally choose lengths that can span the entire width of your house. Have them even longer and you get an instant balcony! The disadvantages? Make sure that a mobile crane can access your property or work from the street. It helps if there are no municipal poles or wires in the way. There usually are but don't panic. You could have them moved even temporarily but it may cost you some. Inside the house, know that minor cracking will occur at cornice level. If your interior walls are in brick, cracking will occur at the 'interface'. Nothing serious. It's because the co-efficients of expansion of concrete and brick vary enough to cause minor damage. However, affixing cornicing will cover the "defect".
Also, never use precast planks as flat roofing. Being exposed to the sun, additional cracking and waterproofing may become a problem. Which you don't need. Thank you for your question.
Need more advice? EMail "Ask the Architect" at [email protected]
Our blog will be published soon.