Could Someone Please Explain Housing Orientations to Me?

Hi All,
I am planning to set my foot in the property market to build my own house. Few things I have been asked to look into before I finalise a lot are -

1) Aim to get a rectangular plot as easiest to find maximum house designs for rectangular plot. Irregular plots = could need custom designs = higher costs
2) Easement/Fall etc. to ensure site costs are kept at a minimum
3) Check the orientation of the house - North and East facing are preferred.

It is this 3rd one that has me confused. By North-facing house, are they referring to the direction that the main door would face? My confusion is that if I buy a plot of land the main door of which would eventually face true north, wouldn't my living and dining area be facing south if it is towards the end of the house?
I have attached a crude photo to hopefully explain what I mean.

In summary, should I just blindly look at where my main door will face to determine north, east etc. or is there more to it wherein I decide the best plot (rate-wise and size-wise) and let the builder do the needful to make best use of the directions for passive heating/cooling.



    • No, it is to maximise warmth in winter (most sunlight entering windows during the day) and not get harsh sun coming in in the afternoon (turns your house into a furnace in the summer) which it will do if facing west, and if you face east then you'll get annoying glare in the morning and in winter the house will be dark from early afternoon.

      • +3 votes

        Then it’s better to have the wider side of the house facing north, so the house can have natural lighting.

        Looking at OP’s land image, the longer sides are West/East aspect. North/South is the narrower sides of the land.

  • The side of the house that has the most windows is the one you want facing north, where your living areas are. Also you want your roof line to face north as you'll get better results from solar.

    • You are right. Wouldn't that be my Living/Dining area in a " main door facing south" house?
      I guess it would be incorrect of me to assume that all houses have the living towards the end but that's how I see most of the mass builder home configs to be structured; Living/Dining at the end.
      But that means I shouldn't be blinding be buying a lot that faces true north. In fact, it should be facing south if I want the living to be facing north. Would that argument be correct?

      • I think you are trying to make a procedural rule out of some general guidance.
        The “north east facing” comment in real estate means a property with most windows oriented that way with a nice outlook (I,e, not 1.5m from a 2 story McMansion to the NE) so that the house is light and bright feeling, particularly in winter.

        If you tick the boxes to be NE facing but the outcome isn’t a bright, warm house in winter, then the initial goal wasn’t met.

        So you can see as well as the block, there is a need to consider the building design very carefully.

  • North facing windows for maximum sunlight throughout the day. East so that you get morning sunlight

    • I actually read this before coming here. The article doesn't explain the concept of "facing". What should face north/south etc?. That's my question.

      • The parts of your house you spend most time in during daylight hours.
        I.e. not the garage or media room, yes to living areas and kitchens, maybe to bedrooms if the design allows.

  • The idea of orienting north is to provide light and warmth in winter whilst being able to shade against heat in the summer. You don’t want your front door orienting north, you want your main living area to be.

  • I have no idea, all I know from living often is that when I wake up in the morning I hate having the sun in my eyes, so I hate to have a main living room or bedroom window to hit the east. It also gets warm in the morning though i guess thats better then the evening.

    In the evening I hate the going down sun in my eyes (west) and my room gets boiling hot during that time, so I prefer it on a place out of my eyes and not hitting my room/windows. I imagine those rooms would have to be airconned harder/longer during the summer periods.

    Backyard on the south means the sun is on it all day, I guess? though you may want a nice sunny backyard with a shade?

    Just a random guess, but looking at the picture you have, I guess the other houses may stop the sun directly hitting you on either side as well as they may provide some shade?

    • Backyard in the south means it will be shaded more, as the house will be between it and the sun

    • all I know from living often

      You mean you just choose not to live at will sometimes? What do you do when you're not living? Do you just take some time out from being alive and hang around in the afterlife for a bit, where things are more carefree? I think you should start a thread on your unique lifestyle.

      • haha I meant renting! Not living. Though the thought of not living… and just hanging out in the afterlife and coming back. Sounds good.

    • You should have a tiny house on wheels and rotate it throughout the day to mean your demands.

      Or build your house on a turn table.

      • I love the idea of unique houses! And the idea of a house on wheels that move, or one that rotates is pretty innovative!
        They're of course not demands, just thoughts for OP of things I had to deal with that may help make OP prefer one side or another (say he might prefer a loungeroom with sun in the morning and not the evening and so makes it that way).

      • Haha, I thought the screenshot would give you a feeler that "tiny" won't do!

        • Build 2 floors, make the 2nd floor rotatable. Like those rotating restaurants.

  • +6 votes

    North to north east are the most desirable because you get light all day around, and with a shading device, you can eliminate direct sun in summer but still have direct sun in the other seasons.

    South is the best for bringing in natural light without the direct rays. It won't get too hot and your floorboards and furniture will not fade.

    East is good if you want to wake up to a blast of sunlight. Good for breakfast area.

    West is gets too much afternoon sun and is the least desirable to have windows.

    • When you say North is the most desirable - what should be facing North?
      The rooms or the house?
      Because I could have a south-facing house but ensure living and master (where I am spending most of my time) facing North.

      • Where you spend the most time during the day.

        • Thanks for that. So would you agree, it's more a home design thing than the actual lot shape and direction that will eventually decide this?

          • @thegamerulez: Yeah.

            The best block orientation is either facing south or north and you can design around that. Not sure why you said that east is a good direction because it means your north side is looking into your neighbour.

          • @thegamerulez: When a block is described with a good NE aspect it means it isn’t on the south side of a hill or next door to a block of flats or something- not that the letterbox must be at the NE end.

          • @thegamerulez: It is a bit of everything. You, certainly, need look at the positioning of the sun to determine the best positioning for your “living” rooms and your amenities areas. If you build your house to have, as much as possible, passive temperature control then you will save, a lot, on bills. This means decent size eaves to block summer sun but ensuring your living rooms get a lot of winter sun. Open plan, and high ceilings, are great for summer but you might also want to consider creating a well insulated “snug” to reduce heating a whole house in winter. The most efficient heating/cooling is reverse cycle air conditioning so I would include that in your plans.

            If you are considering solar you might also want to think about the roof space, and orientation, required for the panels.

            • @try2bhelpful: @try2bhelpful - good point on solar rooftop orientation. Are these things that generally come up during Builder discussions?

              @all - Thank you everyone in this thread. Very insightful comments. Much appreciated.

              • @thegamerulez: Do as much prework for yourself before meeting with the builder.

                Something like will help with showing you the sun passage. You can put in the address and the dates you want to see the passage. Look at mid summer and mid winter.

  • You worry too much

    Firstly you limit yourself immensely if you limit plots to a rectangle
    Secondly most plots have plenty of house designs to choose from so not an issue
    Thirdly building orientation is the position of building in relation to the sun throughout the day but you will nearly always have the front of the house facing the street. Corner block gives you more choices - that would be my choice.

    Main consideration for orientation is where you want the morning and afternoon sun.
    Do you want morning sun shining into bedrooms or living room?
    if planning a 2 storey building make sure it doesnt shade your back yard for most of the day.
    There is also consideration for prevailing winds and rains.
    What about the views? Thats another very important consideration for orientation

    In the end the price of the block might be most important.
    Do you want the best block in the worst location or the worst block in the best location?
    Do you want the highest block on the hill or the lowest one?

    Confused now?
    See, you cant have it all.

    • It's actually a pretty big deal.

      I've lived in west-facing places and they're horrible. Completely unliveable for me as the sun is way too hot. South for me has actually been best - love having the sun without having to ever deal with the sun. At end of day person sounds like they're building the house for themselves and hasn't mentioned capital gains so seems to want the best house rather than just building the worst design on the best block.

      The rest of the issues also seem fairly smart to work through.

  • Some houses like men, some like women, some like both

  • I'm amazed at the number of houses I see on my walks with the perfect north facing orientation … and huge covered verandas on that north side. Not a clue, ha ha.

  • Here's a blog that I find really great if you plan to build.

    This should explain nicely why North and East facing designs (which actually means the widest side of the house with the most windows) can be beneficial

    Also, solar power prices are getting lower every year and can potentially pay for itself in a shorter time. So, it can be worth having the largest area of the roof facing North too, above all those windows, so solar panels can be optimised.

  • Could Someone Please Explain Housing Orientations to Me?

    Things facing North are hot, south cold….. East warm in the morning, west, hot in the afternoon.

  • We live in the Southern Hemisphere so the sun is always more to the north (unless you live in the tropics). The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Think about where you want the sun at each time of the day and in each season. You probably want the sun to heat up the house in the morning - but not in the afternoon - so try to put facings and windows on the east side if possible. You probably want more natural light - so you want windows facing north.

    These are just general rules and may not apply to you. If you live somewhere hot then you might just want somewhere as shady and with the best airflow. You might simply put a veranda or other shade to adjust the heat profile of your house. You might put in skylights to supplement natural light.

    With most of the off the plan houses that you can get in Australia you'll have minimal room for making them suitable for the Australian climate, but keep it in mind.

  • North/South orientation only matters if you've got neighbours close enough to provide cover for the east/west side.

  • 1) Aim to get a rectangular plot as easiest to find maximum house designs for rectangular plot. Irregular plots = could need custom designs = higher costs

    Usually irregular size plots are bigger to compensate, plus if you pick the right ones the irregular bit makes for a good vegetable garden or play area.

    Also depends on the size of the property you want to build on the block.

    2) Easement/Fall etc. to ensure site costs are kept at a minimum

    Easements you can't build over but check the title. Falls you can use to your advantage. Enough of a fall you can have bottom car park and one story house or two stories but if the falls is not enough and you need to excavate then it is going to suck.

    3) Check the orientation of the house - North and East facing are preferred.

    Get a good architect that can explain to you reasoning for their plans. If you are opting for a standard build from a volume builder than you would have to consider your land orientation, size, gradient because they just don't really care that much and will charge you extra.

  • What do you think?
    A north facing house will have sun shining upon it all year round.
    Your yard would receive minimal sun.

    A south facing housing would get ample sun in the years, and NONE at its face