In the fourth part of our “How to Design Your Home” series, you’ll learn the basics of building a passive house. While this is best lead by an experienced architect and builder, you as the homeowner, should know how it’s gonna work.
Designing your home is an opportunity to build yourself a passive house.
Basically, a passive house makes use of the sun to warm the home and the breeze to cool it down. It opens your home to nature but keeps you protected from all weather conditions. In a house like this, you remain comfortable every day, in all seasons, without turning on mechanical heating or cooling.
And because you’re not reliant to your electrical heaters and air conditioners, you’ll cut 40% off your annual energy bill.
This is the main reason why passive homes are sought after by a lot of people. The energy prices are skyrocketing and building a passive house is paramount to reduce the costs of running a house.
So, in this blog, we’re going to teach you the basics of passive design. We’ll give you insights on how to orient your house properly, how to do a mud map exercise, and how to integrate the sun and cooling breezes in your home design.
This way, you can ensure your home suits the site.
The best homes are designed based on the location
A home that’s suitable for its location isn’t just plonked on the land like before.
Designing based on the location is the new standard now.
It begins with an expert architect who studies the site. He/she examines the assets of your block of lands such as the exposure to natural sunlight, shade, breezes, landscape, views, and privacy. Then, he/she produces a house design that maximises those features.
It is important for the designer to get this right. These elements are available for free, but when harnessed in your home design, it will give you a wonderful space to live in. The finished structure always has wow factor because you’ve integrated nature in your home design. Your home is unique and sustainable too.
Homes uniquely built to suit their sites possess a magical, wow factor.
We don’t notice the impact of the design when planning. Yet, we respond to it immediately once we see it.
To get this right, you need to orient your home properly.
Orientation is the most important factor when designing a passive house. It refers to which compass direction your home faces.
Here in Australia, homes are best oriented to the north. Place windows here so your home receives enough morning sun to brighten and warm your home. Locate the common rooms such as your living, dining and kitchen here as well.
And that leads you to the next most important element: daylighting.
Decades of research has proven that natural lighting…
- has positive benefits on a person’s mood and mental health.
- induces the fast recovery of a sick person.
- boosts people’s productivity.
- fulfils a person’s need to connect with nature and
- makes any room feel better and larger.
Allowing natural light in your home is the best thing that you can do to make your home look and feel great. Also, it cuts costs for artificial heating and lighting.
Natural light benefits our mood, our well-being, and has significant and positive impacts on how we feel in our homes.
Proper orientation and daylighting should be your priority. Apart from these two, there are other elements of a passive house that are of greater importance. If your goal now is to build a 100% passive house, consider going for all of it.
Yes, it is quite expensive but it’s a good investment. You cut costs of running your house. You did one huge thing to save the planet. Your home looks great and you and other people feel great in your home too.
No worries, you have a goal so the process would be less stressful now. To make the process easier, work with an architect or designer who knows sustainable building well.
Try a little mud map exercise
Grab your pencil and paper because we’re going to teach you how to sketch like an architect. You’re going to do a mud map. The architect usually does this during a design consultation, but you can do it too.
Start with a drawing of your block of land on a piece of paper (see above drawing). You can also print out an aerial photo of it from Google Maps.
Next, identify where the north is. (Printing straight from Google Maps gives out exactly where your north is.)
Then, start labelling the assets of your block.
- where is your best winter sun?
- where is your harshest summer sun?
- what views do you love and not love?
- where do you need to protect from overlooking?
- where do the main breezes come from?
- is there landscaping you’d like to protect if you can?
- is your land flat, or sloping?
You can now use this to sketch a potential floor plan. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be on scale. But, make the most of your sun, breezeways, views, and more.
A mud map exercise will help you plan the arrangement of your new home on your land. It will help you make the most of what you’ve got. Having this sketch means you already know what you want to do and it’s time to polish the plan.
READ THE COMPLETE HOW TO DESIGN YOUR HOME GUIDES
[PART 5] How to Finalise Your Home Layout
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